Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why I don't follow you (or unfollowed you) or twitter

Perhaps it's the new Grace Dent book or the great migration to Google +, but I have been thinking about my own social media practice, what makes it fun and rewarding, and which elements are stressful and need to be minimized.

I think every tweep has some twitter kryptonite -- that individual, esteemed in their field and a valuable contributor, who nonetheless cannot be followed. I am rethinking using twitter as an awareness technology, as its users real a critical mass and its norms shift and mature. There are lots of you I love in real life, ones whose blogs and articles I devour, but I might not be in step behind you on MY favorite social networking site. My kryptonite:

  • Twitter as self-promotion, number one: The person who uses tweetdeck or hootsuite or some other software to send the exact same tweet three dozen times. And you can assume they're not reading anyone else's tweets, or they would get how useless and annoying that is... 
  • Twitter as self-promotion, number two: The person who refers to their own projects using superlatives. You wouldn't describe your own work so enthusiastically if you were face-to-face, would you?
  • Twitter as private conversation: People using the @ when it should be a dm. I can see how this is an easy habit to slip into, but really -- do go private.
  • Over-tweeting, especially of non-original content. This is a sad one, because if those links or resources were packaged more judiciously -- perhaps as a blog entry-- you could scan it and pick up on the few new to you and feel gratified. Instead, you are forced to look at the same tweep again and again, for little reward.
  • Twitter as a means to save yourself a little money. Once in a while, I might be interested in a Groupon, but is it worth spamming all your followers for a $5 Amazon video credit? Also applies to the "retweet this to enter" contests.  At what cost?
  • Are more than half of your updates Foursquare checkins, paper.li dailies you have automated, or your auto-tweeted horoscope? So not interested. GoodReads I can just about bear...
  • People who re-tweet the things our thought leaders say. I really don't get this one, since it logically follows that we all pay attention some of the same people. I really don't feel you get a lot out of someone RTing some XX,000-follower tweep who everyone is following. Too many of these tweeps, who I have decided not to follow, make their way into my stream in this way. I think it's finding those gems from tweeps with single and double-digit followers that proves real twitter acumen.
With those thorny issues in mind, I think I will either have to create lists to manage my tweeps, something I swore I'd never do, or just unfollow a particular dozen or so, mostly people I know in real life, who don't use microblogging the same way I do. I feel both are losing propositions.

I don't think my way of using twitter is better, just different, but it is better for me.


  1. Great insight and some points I can learn from. Thank you for expressing your opinion and helping others see the pitfalls of Twitter no-nos.

  2. Thanks, Nikki. It always amazes me how different people use the tool!

  3. Great thoughts. Also, I'm really glad I didn't make the list!