Here’s a collection of the comments I find in my Twitter replies on any given day:
- You’re a snob.
- What an elitist bitch!
- You obviously have a HUGE ego.
- You think you’re better than everyone.
- I hate your face.
“Wow”, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Lisa must have done something horrible to deserve that!” And I did. I made the deliberate decision to keep my Twitter follows as small as possible, thereby breaking every social media “rule” known to man. I should be hung by my toes. Here, I’ll get the nails for you. Actually, I won’t.
I’m too elitist to gather my own supplies. You go. I’ll wait here.
I’m not going to tell anyone that there’s a right or wrong [coughGuyKawasakicough] way to use social media, but there are legitimate reasons for keeping a small Twitter/Facebook/whatever network. And they hold true regardless of whether you’re an individual or a business. Because I get so many folks disagreeing with how I run my account, I thought I’d give some clarification as to why I run it that way. Maybe it will give you some insight into how I view social media. Or, if anything, I now have somewhere to direct the next person who calls me a Twitter bitch. W00t!
Following Everyone = Following No One
The biggest reason I don’t follow thousands of people on Twitter is because I can’t handle the noise. I view following everyone as following no one because when your stream is being updated lightening fast, there’s no way to keep up. If I followed a thousand people, I may miss the everyday, human tweets from my followers. I’d miss the tweets about how much they love their dog, what book their reading, where they’re going on vacation, etc. And, as the great Aerosmith once said, I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to be actively engaged with the people that I choose to invite into my network. I think that’s sort of the point of following something. That may mean I follow less, but I’m guaranteed to interact more with those that I do choose to follow.
Also worth noting is that I don’t use any tools to manage my personal Twitter account – not Tweetdeck, not Seesmic, nothing. I get everything from the Web version. That means that following a thousand people would turn my Twitter feed into a complete mess. It also means that I am as adorable and outdated as a typewriter.
I Don’t Like Relying On Twitter Lists
I think there are a lot of great uses for Twitter Lists, especially private Twitter Lists. But I don’t like the idea of creating a large network that I have to segregate and banish to a separate part of my Twitter life. This may sound all types of rainbows and bunnies, but I like my community together. I like the stream of constant information, not having to check in with various lists throughout the day to see what my different friend groups are saying. For me, it feels awkward, cumbersome and a lot more impersonal. Again, I like to be really engaged with the people that I do choose to follow. It’s hard for me to do that when they’re banished to my sidebar. Again, that’s just how I work.
It Encourages Me To Switch People Out
Though I try to keep my Following list under 500 people, that doesn’t mean it’s always the same 500 people. I follow/unfollow people like it’s my job, constantly looking for the right mix of voices, information and humor. If I followed more people, I probably wouldn’t have to do this because I wouldn’t see what anyone was saying anyway. By keeping a smaller core, it makes me more engaged and aware of who I am following. It keeps me on the hunt to track down the best of the best of my network.
Small Groups = Better Learning
Everyone learns differently. Some like to be one of many, some are visual learners, some need to be locked away with a book and highlighter. For me, it’s all about small groups.
Something you may not know about me is that I received a BA in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College. The typical class size at Emerson? About 25 students. My Journalism classes often had as few as 12. That provided a very intimate learning environment where you knew the folks you were talking with and you could easily observe and learn from others interactions. That’s how I learn. That’s how I take in information. And it’s a reason that I purposely keep my social networks as intimate as I can. Not because I’m a giant bitch (which I may be, but it’s not a result of Twitter), but because that’s how they provide value to me and how I can provide value to others. I understand that some of my friends thrived off the lecture hall college experience. Some of those people also drank in college. I didn’t do that either. I know, as cute as a typewriter, right?
A Follow Begins To Mean Something
When someone with a low Following count follows me on Twitter, I feel a closer relationship to that person. I know they didn’t just follow me because they were hoping I’d follow back or because they’re not discerning enough. It tells me that I did or said something to get myself on their radar. And as a brand, I think that’s something you want to strive for. You want to be relevant and interesting to your audience, not to the masses. A follow from someone in your niche, and who doesn’t follow often, means you’re on the right path.
I Don’t Have To Follow You To Talk With You
One of my favorite things to do with folks who call me a Twitter snob for not keeping my Following/Followers numbers more closely aligned is to chat with them. Because I think it proves an important point – while I may not choose to follow everyone and their five step-brothers, I do my best to chat and converse with the folks who choose to chat and converse with me. And that doesn’t require that we’re immediately following one another. That’s how you FIND people to follow on Twitter – you start chatting with them through someone else. And then suddenly you get to meet them, share a few conversations, stalk their blog, and you become friends and followers. It’s that whole building relationships thing. We can chat, share information and have great conversations without immediately attaching ourselves. It’s like Twitter dating.
You can call me a Twitter snob, but I’m just using Twitter in a way that provides me the most value. And that means keeping a small network and actively manning my replies tab. What are your standards for following someone on Twitter? Do you think it’s important to keep your numbers close or are you gosh darn tired of people calling you a Twitter elitist?
About the Author
Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.