For many people, following a lot of people on Twitter is akin to collecting baseball cards – the more you have, the better you’re doing. This explains why many people are following thousands of people even though the value of following so many people is, at best, dubious.
I fall into the camp of following a limited number of people – currently about 200. That may make me a bad member of the Twitter community because my follow-followed ratio is 1:10 but 200 seems like a comfortable and management group. It’s enough people to let me know what’s happening without being overwhelmed.
In the spirit of following fewer people, here’s my approach:
1. Simply because someone follows you, you don’t have to follow them back. It may be impolite or downright social media-like but we’re not talking about a quid pro quo environment.
2. If you are going to follow someone, get a handle on who they are and what they use Twitter to do. This means reviewing their profile, Web site and recent updates. If you want to streamline the process, I recommend using Twimailer, which sends e-mail notifications of new followers that include much more than what Twitter does.
3. Have a benchmark for the kind of person you want to follow. Consider things such as how much they update, and what they use Twitter to do (personal, professional, sharing information, asking questions) to see if their approach aligns with yours. It’s great to follow a variety of people to get different perspective but it’s also important to be focused on getting the right kind of people to follow
4. Prune the number of people you follow on a regular basis. Just because you followed someone doesn’t mean it’s a forever kind of thing. People stop using Twitter or they start to update about things that don’t interest you. If you’re not getting what you want, cut ‘em loose.
Update: CNet has an article on how to attract fewer followers.
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