Thursday, 29 October 2009

Twitter - is it acceptable to stop following those who don’t follow you?

By Jon Paget
I was stumbling across various blog topics when I came across a post that had developed into a full scale argument. Intrigued I read on.

The topic was revolving around twitter and whether someone should stop following someone else who wasn’t following them. The ensuing argument was then played out by a number of people using twitter, some for personal and some for business use.

Now for those new to twitter, the micro blogging site limits the number of people you can follow to 2000 until you reach that number of followers yourself.

So the question I now ask is: is it acceptable to stop following those who don’t follow you? If so, when and why.

Largely I subscribe to the idea that if you follow people on twitter for the sole reason they’re following you, you’re missing the whole point of social media (and you’re unlikely as a business to directly/indirectly win business through it). For those that succeed in social media it is because they commit with time and application. By interacting, commenting and adding value on sites such as twitter follower numbers will grow.

However there is usually at least one caveat, and here it is. If you reach your 2000 followers limit and find more people you wish to follow – what do you do?

Well in this instance it makes sense to remove some of those that aren’t following you from your list (are you really going to remove someone who is also following you, knowing you risk losing them as a follower in return?).
However beware doing this randomly; a community is only as strong as its members. Don’t remove someone if they add value to you, your work or your interests.

Instead, try to contact them and build a relationship with them. You may just find they start following you.

There are a variety of issues surrounding this topic. Often the side of the fence find yourself will depend on your motive for using twitter and what you hope to achieve.

My final word; it’s clear to me managing expectation is one of the problems facing social media (for business) going forward. This doesn’t mean businesses can’t succeed using sites such as twitter but it will take time, effort and commitment. Building a twitter following is not easy and patience is needed. If you do need to make decisions about who you're following, think about how it will affect you and your community before you act.

To learn more -

Penny Power, founder of the online business networking site Ecademy, published a book entitled “know me, like me, follow me” earlier this autumn. I would recommend anyone new to social media to get a copy.

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