I’m a snob when it comes to Twitter snobs

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

20 comments
Anne Saulovich @solete
Anne Saulovich @solete

Hi Margie,

I love that you are the tell-it-like-it-is girl. Thanks for this candid post.

I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I'm not a Twitter snob by any means, but I don't follow back everyone. My 'following' strategy relates to my interests, and as a result I now have a tight network of people interested in social media, mobile, marketing and blogging. I love this, and love belonging to a community on Twitter. However, I still try to follow people who are very different than me-- after all variety is the spice of life, and I love people!

It didn't start that way though. In the beginning I mainly followed A-listers because at the time, three years ago, there weren't a lot of people using Twitter. While the stream provided interesting reading and I tweeted frequently, I struggled to find value because the conversation was 1-way. In fact, I stopped and started using Twitter various times precisely because I was tired of "mumbling" on Twitter alone. :)

I really had to invest time to build a solid network that provides value to my followers and me. Participating in Twitter chats and tweeting live at conferences or via live streaming has enabled me to fine-tune my Twitter followers and have fun at the same time!

My conclusion. It depends. I think people, A-lister or not, have to determine their personal objective and devise a strategy from there. There's no one-size fits all strategy.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

I agree - I definitely think that Social Media in general is something we all need to mold based on what we need and want to get out of it. That being said, I think that going to either extreme - auto-following everyone or not following anyone based on some arbitrary guideline can be dangerous. I like the middle ground!

Thanks for popping by!

Freddie winckler
Freddie winckler

I like your pov and to be honest it seems that twitter snobism isn't really good twitter spirit. On the other hand people have a profile that is here to make you want to follow them.
A few lines that in goodtwitter spirit have a lot of power since they might ultimatly decide on what you'll do.
I tend to find that you often get good surprises following people you never heard of. And that to ultimatly keep your twitter flow readable My natural feel away from self proclaimed gurus (if you are one do you really need to claim it?!) from people trying to hard sell or illuminated believers has served me right. Leaving me to focuss on curious, knowledgeable, different, and fun people that make twitter worth waisting so much time!!

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

I agree 100% Freddie. You never know the full story when you start seeing someone's tweets - sometimes you end up finding that their motives are just to spam people or to make money, but other times, you get a really nice surprise, and normally there are hints indicating which will be the case. You just need to look for 'em :)

Joseph Ruiz
Joseph Ruiz

Well for someone who says they are not on the "A-List" you seem to be able to attract a fair amount of attention. But why doesn't that surprise me.

Well written, genuine post, but where is the surprise in that! Anyone who knows you would expect nothing else.

Thanks for keeping us informed and entertained.

Joe

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Thanks as always, Joe. It's not really me getting the attention in this case - it's me drawing attention to two different posts that were extremely well written by other folks :)

Cristian Gonzales
Cristian Gonzales

Oh, looks like you ARE on Klout. 56. Nice score Margie. You're a Klout superstar, it even says so on their site, ha. ;)

Cristian Gonzales
Cristian Gonzales

I loved reading this piece Margie. Like some other commented, it cracked me up a few times, for the right reasons. I can see your exasperation with certain ideas/concepts about Twitter followers, Klout, etc.

RE: Klout, you know I'm always poking at you about it (he he), but I see Klout as something similar to high school elections and voting. People pay attention, but it doesn't really mean much in the end.

Still, something tells me you'd have a pretty stellar score if you'd just register, lol. ;)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Hi Mitch,

I apologize that you feel I did not represent your post accurately.

Here's where the difference lies, I think, because I actually approaching following the same way you do - I have never auto-followed and I always look at a few different things when deciding if I want to follow that person or not.

Difference 1, as I mention in my post, is that your Twitter world is like Jupiter compared to my, well, Pluto. That creates an experience difference that I'm sure I don't really understand fully.

The other difference is that because I have the luxury to, I think I might follow back people that you wouldn't, like that person, for example, who only has 50 followers and a dozen tweets but who I can tell is on the right path.

As for elite, that's just another term I'm trying to use to differentiate folks in your world from fairly new folks like me - no harm intended.

Hope that helps. Thank you for stopping by!

Mitch Joel
Mitch Joel

It actually doesn't change much because that's the same exact way I work. I follow people who are interesting (regardless of how many followers they have). My post was about not auto-following everyone. It was about using the power of the network (i.e. who they follow) to be discerning about your network... to keep it tight and sharp.

I see it as this:

Mark: follows everybody because you never know.
Mitch: follows a ton of people, but curates.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Ah, I see. I think that is where I got confused - I don't perceive that Mark was arguing for auto-follow, or if he was then I missed that.

Mitch Joel
Mitch Joel

Unlike Mark, I don't feel that my point is being clearly explained. First off, I follow and connect to way more people on Twitter than most do. Second, it's not a fixed cap. Of course I have room to meet more people... And I'm adding them daily. Last point, if I were "elite" - a term I don't agree with - I'd only follow those I know. I don't. I explore and learn and meet each day.

What this means? I don't just judge people by who they follow. I actually spend time to look at their tweets, links and audience and then decide if it has piqued my interet. I won't simply auto-follow . I don't see the point. If I wanted to meet everybody, I'd go to twitter.com and start following every tweet. Beyond that, I find it interesting that most who do say that they would follow everyone back seem to only be following people that are following them. If you really wanted to connect more, wouldn't you be following a lot more people than those following you?

dannybuntu
dannybuntu

:) I do hope that I don't appear as such.

I must apologize for belatedly replying to you.

Now, I know that it's not a good excuse and I know that I might incur the ire of the twitter crowd for saying this, I'm just saying that it's harder for me to keep track of convos in twitter.

With facebook, ugh, I know, I know, conversations seem to be structured in a more cohesive manner.

Sorry, thanks and welcome. :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Oh, yeah. You're such a snob...??

No silly head, I was not talking about you at all. Though you have been uncharacteristically quiet. That just makes you mean, not a snob. heehe :)

Mark W Schaefer
Mark W Schaefer

My position has already been well-stated. : )

Thanks for the nod and the well-written post!

Reza Malayeri
Reza Malayeri

I completely agree with you on all fronts. Why be a snob on twitter! What's the point of being on it then? Twitter was not built to be an exclusive club of elite snobs. Twitter does not promote exclusive groups. Twitter moves at a rapid pace. I see it as an information superhighway, where you can get to where you need to go, and meet some great companions along the way. Everyone will use it in a different way, but when it boils down to it, it's a social network. Let the snobs continue their behavior by themselves. I plan on meeting as many amazing people as possible in this lifetime! If you're a human being, and have positive energy, I care not how many followers you have, what lists you're on, or what industry you're in. Let's connect and fill each other with life. Excellent post Marjorie ;-)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Yeah! What you said! Man, I hate it when my readers write better blog posts in the comments section than my actual blog post. hehee :)

Thanks for taking the time to write that. I appreciate it!

Dawn Westerberg
Dawn Westerberg

"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've been chuckling aloud at this one for five minutes. This is what I LOVE about your writing!!!

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Well thanks :) I just write what's in my head. It gets dangerous sometimes, but I'm glad that in this particular case it came out alright :)