You don’t have to follow everyone on Twitter!

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Posted 04 Aug 2009 in Technology

TwitterTwitter is a great social networking tool for sharing with friends old and new. But with any social media phenomenon, there is a culture attached to it that can be borderline excessive.

Many people have started using auto-follow software to automatically follow any Twitter user who follows them, whether it is a real person or a bot. Other tactics include setting up alerts via various Twitter API-based clients for keywords and automatically following people who mention certain keywords in their tweets. These users are more concerned with follower counts than the quality of the people they follow.

Kyle Judkins at Up Your Social would call me an elitist Twitter user – I don’t follow just anyone and I try to follow people who I feel are important and add value to my stream. Following hundreds or thousands of people is difficult, if not unmanageable. That’s why I believe software like TweetDeck is so popular – people can make categories with the people they really want to listen to/read and categories for those who they are following for the sake of following (and subsequently ignore them).

Does this practice make Twitter a more helpful or engaging social tool? I don’t think so. If anything, the vast majority of tweets are simply lost in cyberspace, with few people reading and replying to them. The practice of following people just to follow them hurts the development of real, valuable and sustainable social interaction between Twitter users online and offline.

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3 Comments

  1. I think twitter should ban users that use the auto software. What’s the point in following a million people if you only read 3 or 4? I block anyone that follows me and already has 500 people they are following but have only posted 0, 1, 2 or 3 tweets. It’s also annoying when people follow you only because of a single tweet you wrote on a particular topic. Come on folks, get with the program!

    • I hope Twitter cracks down on auto-follow software, too. It is annoying to many users and isn’t used for good most of the time.

  2. Ellie – I really agree with you on this – I only follow maybe half the people that follow me and I weed fairly regularly. When I choose to follow someone, I not only look at their twitter stream (are the interacting with others, do they have a point of view and a sense of humor, are they real), check out their bio and visit their website, and I look at how much they just talk “at” and how much they talk “with”. That’s how I met you! I can only interact with so many people and I want to be able to actually read the tweets of my follows as I’d hope they’d read mine.