- I will follow any local minister/pastor (my field) or any local person (within about a 3 hour radius), provided I know they are local. This is in part because I'm also interested in the off-line connections that can be made or begun online. Sometimes they follow me first and I follow back; sometimes I find them first. They may or may not follow me back.
- Otherwise, I follow only people I find interesting. This is becoming more difficult to do, so one way I do so is to pay attention on Twitter to the RTs that come my way. An RT—retweet—is a way of repeating someone else's content to your followers. You cannot see the replies someone you're following makes to someone else you are not following, but an RT is broadcast so that you can see it, regardless of whose name appears in it. RTs, then, become a way to find people who have interesting content. Sometimes, based on the strength of the RT'd comment, I will look at their profile, check the ratio of broadcasts-to-replies, and if they look interesting and to be a conversationalist, I will often follow them.
- Sometimes I pay attention to Follow Friday recommendations. This Twitter meme is #FF. On Fridays, some folks on Twitter recommends some of their followers through the use of the hashtag #FF. You will see all these, regardless of whether you follow those recommended or not. If the recommendations are coming from someone I've been paying attention to, I will often check the profiles of those recommended and may choose to follow some or all of them.
- Another way of finding interesting people, this one off-Twitter, is through blogs. If you read a blog you find useful and interesting, check around the blog. Many bloggers also tweet. When you find that link, you can check out that blogger's profile page on Twitter. I personally find that many of the bloggers I look at use Twitter more for broadcasting, but some are very good at engaging with their readers on Twitter.
- What am I looking for on someone's profile page? Several things. Keep in mind these are what I am looking for. They are not what you need to look for and there are many valid, but different ways, of using Twitter. I'm looking primarily for a mix of original content, some RTs, and some @ replies. I'm mainly looking at ratios. Everyone goes through phases where you have a lot of content or ideas to roll out, but if within 2 pages of your profile you have only 1 or 2 @s, I peg you (rightly or wrongly) as a broadcaster, and I'm not looking to follow broadcasters. I'm not looking to follow broadcasters because, on Twitter, I want to engage with people. If I want your broadcasts, I'll follow your blog in my RSS reader.
- Lists are a useful feature. Not extremely useful, because I suspect some people set a bunch of them up when they were first added and have since forgotten about them, but some users are diligent in creating, building, and maintaining their lists. Lists are useful because, on someone's profile page, the more times they are listed is an indicator of the value they add to others. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule for me because some people, newer to Twitter, have not been around enough to be listed by others, though their content and engagement is excellent.
- I like to see a real picture, but I care little about the profile information. A website is useful but not required (for me). Since when do people need to blog in order to converse on Twitter? I do like to see a location listed, but I also don't require that because some people are sensitive to putting what they perceive as too much information online.
- Lastly, I will almost always follow someone who engages with me. This works two ways—you may have followed me and I didn't follow you back (for any number of reasons, some of which are listed here, but sometimes, I don't see everyone who follows me and innocently miss some). One way to get on my radar, if you care about that, is to engage with me. Ask me a question, answer one of my mine, comment on one of my posts, join a conversation I'm having with someone else. Sometimes, people will find one of my tweets through a search or through some other means and correspond, or will join a conversation I'm having with someone else. I will often go to this person's profile page and almost always follow them. The main reason—because they took the initiative and showed engagement. Conversely, this does not mean that you should expect me to follow you because you write back to me to say, “Good post.” or “Nice idea.” That's not engaging at all.
- You probably realize by now that I follow many people who may not follow me back. So what? I'll still correspond with them. Maybe they'll follow me back. But Twitter is not a numbers game; it's a social network. I don't meet someone in the community here on Wednesday and expect to be invited to a dinner party on Friday.
- I'd encourage you not to worry about your following-to-follower ratio. Concentrate on good content, appropriate RTs, and good, solid engagement with people. Build the community—the social network—you want. Be interesting and funny. Don't worry about people that follow you today and unfollow you tomorrow. Twitter is very organic. If you stick around, your network will grow. You never know who will follow, or who you might follow, so enjoy, interact, and grow!
Yesterday I posted about how I use Twitter to post content (both mine and others') and build a community. Today, I post my guidelines for following people.
This blog is for articles and book reviews. I post my sermons at my Sermons page, where you can listen to sermons online or download them in MP3 format.
Although I work for the Otisville Church of Christ in Otisville, Michigan, this blog represents my own thoughts and does not necessarily correspond to the views and workings of the Otisville Church of Christ.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.