Last week, I read two posts on the topic of following on Twitter. First, Mitch Joel wrote a post noting that being a snob on Twitter is a good thing. In response, Mark Schaefer wrote a post called Bringing Down the Twitter Snobs. I commented on both posts. Both posts were insightful. Both posts presented their perspective well. Mitch Joel essentially argues that “The only people you should follow on Twitter are people who are immediately interesting to you or people who might become interesting to you.” Mark Schaefer retorts: “You never know who will connect with you, you never know how they will connect with you, and you never know where it will lead. So why would you exclude ANYBODY?”
So where do I stand with this? I have all of the respect in the world for Mitch Joel, but I can’t really get to where he is in his head on this issue. So let me talk about 2 reasons why.
I don’t have 500,000 people asking to talk to me
I know, I don’t understand why either, but it’s a fact. I think that folks like Mitch, members of the “Twitter elite,” if you will, experience Twitter in a totally different way than folks like me do. Twitter for them is a relentless pull on their experience, their knowledge, their time, and their tweets. People like Mr. Joel do speeches, they’ve written books. They’ve hit it big time.
In that kind of scenario, I can understand how it would be difficult to keep up with everyone who follows you. The time it takes to sift through real people versus the spam bots would be extremely demanding. And let’s face it…if you are in that Twitter elite, you have a lot of people who are asking to pick your brain. You have people throwing fits if you don’t respond. So I get wanting to be selective. Still though, how do you determine who is “interesting”? Mr. Joel talks about looking at a person whose “follow” list was about 400 people, all of whom were “A-list.” What does that mean? How do the Twitter elite define “interesting” or “A-list”?
Why do we talk about “following” like it’s a big job?
Here’s what I really don’t understand about the “Twitter snob” stance. Why miss all of those opportunities? I mean, when you were in high school or college, did you say, “Woah, I can’t meet any more people because I mean, how can I keep track of everyone?” Probably not. You were interested in meeting more people, in befriending more people. Well, that’s how I feel about Twitter. More to the point, if everyone eventually evolved into a “snob,” how could anyone new find their way in Twitter?
When I got started, people took a chance on me. I didn’t have an “A-list” of followers. I didn’t have a high Klout score (so I’m told). I had under 100 followers, and I probably was following more people than were following me. But guess what? People began to follow me. They took a chance. I am forever grateful.
Now that I have a more pleasant foothold in Twitter, I actually seek out people who don’t have a lot of followers. I look at what they are trying to do with their tweets, and I reach out to them. I introduce them to people.
You can’t judge a person by their followers
In real life, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who thinks it’s a good idea to judge people by how they look, right? If you say, “Oh, anyone who wears jeans isn’t my kind of person,” you’ll get raised eyebrow kind of looks. Well, I react that way to the “Twitter snob” concept. How can you tell who is “interesting” if you don’t take a moment to try to get to know people?
I enjoy reaching out to people. It’s what I enjoy about Twitter. I enjoy being, well, social. Sure, there are tons of reasons why I am using Twitter as a marketing professional. But I don’t view following people as a job. Yes, it takes time to make sure you’re not following a spam bot. Sure, it takes time to see if someone is giving a true effort. But you know what? I’m happy to do it, because to me, and to a lot of the people I hang out with in the Twitter world, that’s really the whole point.
So, where do you fall in this argument? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
image by Luca Cinacchio. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/cinacchi