Why I Don’t Follow Back

OK, this is Twitter related. And it’s a rant so only read it if you’re in the mood!

Sheep

One of the best things about Twitter is that you don’t have to follow the streams that follow you. You can pick and choose and fine-tune your own selection of hand-chosen streams; and if you use Tweetdeck or similar, you can have several manicured streams going on. Of course sometimes the people you follow have an interest you don’t share – such as Formula 1 but these things are easy to filter out – mentally or technically.

Some people artificially promote their twitterstream by adopting a ‘follow me and I’ll follow back’ approach. It’s artificial because many of these people’s followers might not be interested in reading their tweets or interacting with them. It is a form of advertising/promotion but surely if people aren’t actually choosing to follow you, they won’t be reading your tweets properly either.

Myspace and Youtube and (to a lesser extent) Facebook suffer because you have to ‘friend’ someone – that is a two way acceptance which can contribute to spam-like advertising and clutter. Twitter means you can follow someone’s stream – like tuning into a radio station; and even interact without them having to reciprocate. And why should they? I don’t follow @solobasssteve, @mattstevensloop, @vurnt22, @Glinner, @Quaerentia and others in the hope they’ll follow me back. I follow them because I want to. Surely that makes my following them more meaningful. That four of those five follow me is great, but I’d follow them even if they didn’t.

‘Follow me and I’ll follow back’ devalues following: are people following you out of politeness or do they really want to. The there are the low-lifes who follow you, hope you’ll follow back and then drop you…And it’s so unnecessary. I have 634 followers as of today. If I lose a few over a blogpost like this I don’t care. I only want followers who actually want to follow my stream.

At it’s best Twitter is about communication and interesting/educational/entertaining tweets and links. It can also be a great place for online support/friendship/fellowship and a great tool for people who actually know each other (yes, cyberspace is becoming an outdated myth) to connect.

I follow people because:

  • I enjoy their tweets
  • I like them
  • I enjoy our interactions
  • They appreciate and interact wit my content
  • I like what they do and hope their tweets will become more engaging/informative one day

I don’t follow just people because they follow me. If you want me to follow you, do one or more of the above.

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