To follow or not to follow on Twitter? Are you part of a community or are you aloof?

One of the hundreds of things that are great about using social media is the capacity to build communities – it’s one of the useful elements I’ve found while managing a twitter account for a local authority.

 

An organisation has an opportunity to find out what people think about what it does, what interests them in general and be able to respond by providing content that is useful and relevant.

 

Using Twitter, by following back those people who look like they have an interest in your organization (as well as following accounts that your org is interested in) you will have a better functioning Twitter presence. [I’m not talking about autofollowing here but active following.]

 

Why follow back on Twitter?

 

It’s useful to get to know your community and what makes them tick.  Real people run your account and real people have relationships with each other – they listen and respond to what people have said to them or about them.

 

By not following someone who has a legitimate interest in your organisation you are giving out a message that you’re not interested in anyone who follows you. If you want to make your organisation approachable then it helps not to be aloof.

 

Some people only follow people who follow back – not everyone does this but some people see Twitter as a place to have conversations and will do a cull of those who don’t follow back after a certain period of time.  By not following back, you may lose an audience for information you want to share.

 

Content – by following people you can come across great information to retweet. There are other ways of course, by using search terms on key words for example but actually looking at what your people are saying now can give you great information to share.

 

Why not to follow back on Twitter

 

You don’t have the resources to have a Twitter account where you engage with people – your team’s too busy.  If you’re just tweeting from an RSS feed from your website and using Twitter to broadcast there’s no point in following back.

 

You don’t want to be seen to be endorsing a dodgy outfit – what if it turns out the tweeter you followed is not a legitimate business or is a racist pressure group?  BUT: I’d say, don’t follow an account you’re uncomfortable with but the likelihood is that there won’t be many of those.  Or, when you find out, unfollow them. Nobody would expect you to be accountable for what other people do on Twitter.

 

There’s no point, your home feed will just be a load of stuff you’re not interested in and you won’t be able to keep up with it all.  BUT: I’d say you don’t have to read every tweet in there and you’ll have a better chance of coming across something useful if you follow a wider range of tweeters.

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7 thoughts on “To follow or not to follow on Twitter? Are you part of a community or are you aloof?

  1. HiThanks for the article. The biggest problem I have with following is keeping up with all the tweets. I miss loads simply because I don’t have the time to read them all. Any thoughts. RichP.S. about to follow you on Twitter and Foursquare!

  2. HiThanks for the article. The biggest problem I have with following is keeping up with all the tweets. I miss loads simply because I don’t have the time to read them all. Any thoughts. RichP.S. about to follow you on Twitter and Foursquare!

  3. Hiya Rich, lovely to hear from you! The first thing I’d say is that if you kept up with all the tweets sent by people you follow you’d never sleep! I guess people have their own ways but I do three things:Saved searches: key words and hashtags are saved and I look at the tweets there. Something like ‘#localgov’ give me lots of food for thought and I don’t even need to be following the people who have tweeted them.Similarly lists are great for categorising people into areas of interest and then I take a look there. If you make a list of the people who most regularly inspire or entertain you have a place to go where you know you’ll get quality tweets. The rest of the time I treat my home feed of tweets like a lucky dip, if I have five minutes I have a look at what’s going on now. I dip in and out whenever I like, sometimes not for days – I am in control of what I want to see and Twitter is not my master! One last thing worth noting is that you can’t send DMs without the user following you so having reciprocal relationships helps you share information like contact details more easily. Look forward to tweeting and Foursquaring with you!

  4. Thanks for the reply. Not waffle at all and your answer really adds to the post. Thank you. I particularly found the hashtags useful. But have another question – how do you discover hashtags please? As a youth worker I am interested in news from other youth workers. Is youthwork a hashtag?I loved the lucky dip part as well because that is basically how I read my Twitter feed!Rich

  5. Thanks for the reply. Not waffle at all and your answer really adds to the post. Thank you. I particularly found the hashtags useful. But have another question – how do you discover hashtags please? As a youth worker I am interested in news from other youth workers. Is youthwork a hashtag?I loved the lucky dip part as well because that is basically how I read my Twitter feed!Rich

  6. Cheers Rich! Hashtags are usually discoverable by guesswork – I did a search for #youthwork and there were loads of tweets. So I looked at those tweets and saw some more:e.g. #youngpeople #youthministry #globalyouth and one for Youth Work Week 2011 #yww11Of course you can also make one up and hope it catches on!

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