Do you follow?

Recently I’ve managed to successfully convince friends to join Twitter, despite their deer-in-the-headlights reaction.

I’ve also been privileged by follows from complete strangers, mostly entrepreneurs and professionals, who I know enjoy and benefit from the level of engaged interaction we have and try to maintain on a regular basis.

autom8 iconObviously interaction is key to social media. But I find few actually take that aspect to heart. While a handful who actually get what the medium is about, would go out of their way to bring to light just how much one ought to share (@jowyang) of their personal versus professional tweets.

That said, the delicate balance you need to keep while engaged on Twitter is largely dictated by whom you interact with regularly: the people you follow and those who follow you.

Below are some personal reflections surrounding following. While I’ve alluded to this before, and many of these points have been blogged about ad nauseum, I am nonetheless hoping these thoughts would speak to newbies and help affirm their own deliberations to the extent that they’ll be able to decide how to use Twitter as a viable tool going forward.

The Trouble with Automation
Engagement is a commitment that can’t be automated. You have to be willing to interact and naturally enjoy doing it.

Despite my relentless fascination over the degree of sophistication technology offers to supposedly simplify and enhance our lives, it would be dangerous to encourage instilling automated modes of online interaction that would normally place the onus on us to psychologically process through reaction, evaluation and action.

Are you dedicated enough to put the effort into building online relationships?

autom8 iconLead Generation over Monetization
Building professional relationships and strategically expanding your network to generate business leads require more than a get-rich-quick scheme. You have to maintain those relationships.

Now, if you’re bent on making a quick buck off of Twitter, then by all means, sign up and use apps that will generate empty auto-follows with single tweets like:

WOW, I’m getting 100% conversion on my landing pages using Sign Up Fuel!!!!! http://tinyurl.com/faKE1 (this is a dummy URL)

If that’s your thing.

Nurturing versus Mass Producing 
It is ultimately more rewarding to invest time getting to know your new-found friends and colleagues than worrying about how many followers you can hook in a day.

Personally, I enjoy interacting with people. Not only do you end up confirming that you are on the same wavelength, but also (and more importantly) you end up getting a good sense of their priorities and style.

This two-way street is what affords you the natural advantages of:

  • being recommended on #followfridays
  • being thanked for your tweets
  • being RT’d (re-tweeted), and
  • ultimately being publicly acknowledged for your contribution to the social media collective.

Mass production is the stuff of efficient assembly lines and ultra smart algorithms. Not the human touch that social media networking requires.

autom8 icon3 Essentials
Three distinct steps have helped me get my following:

  1. Establish a web presence. You must have an effective and sustainable web presence (website, blog, etc.) to be in social media. Make sure your web content is well-packaged and presented; make it speak to your target audience.|
  2. Contribute. If you want to enhance your network, you must be willing to share your insights with people. If providing insights or thoughts is not your style, then be helpful to others by sharing trade secrets, or helping them achieve their needs efficiently.
  3. Interact. Initially, I wrote about how important it is to try and stick to your area of expertise. I now find that a diverse mix of followers, which makes up, say, 25% of core followers in your professional mix, actually affords a level of interaction that will encourage you to seek out others and for others to seek you out. Purely out of curiosity over who you are and what you are willing to share.

So next time #followfriday swings around, ask yourself: do I really mean it? When I #ff @soandso, do I really know what they’re about?

How do you follow in Twitterville?

5 thoughts on “Do you follow?

  1. To someone whose just joined Twitter, thank you for this; it’s good to get some insight regarding how to make Twitter and social media sites in general worthwhile to follow and be followed.

  2. Hi Autom
    For me Twitter is all about finding and sharing new sources of information on topics that either I find interesting or can help me and others professionally.

    For better or worse I have made a conscience decision to not autofollow. There is too much information being posted to follow people whose updates I am not interested in. The relevent posts just get lost.

  3. First of all, I think you can use Twitter in many different ways, depending on your objectives, and they are all respectable. Like you -and Earnie- I use Twitter to get and share information that is relevant to me and others with similar interests, and to make relationships (professional and maybe personal ones) that provides me some kind of value. At this point, I agree entirely with your discourse: Quality versus Quantity. Great article, Autom.

  4. Your final three bits of advice are great. Presence, contribution, and interaction: the keys to any relationship.

    I really dislike autofollows, and you can see who is looking for them as you choose not to follow some folks who follow you. When they drop away after a day or two, you know they weren’t interested in your content; they just wanted to bump their numbers.

    I’ve been thinking about this as well and have a pair of blog posts scheduled for next week (at http://effectivecio.com) that talk about both following and be followable. Thanks for starting the conversation!

  5. Hi autom, I noticed your tweets on Twitter and then thought of checking your website.

    I really enjoyed the content here. This blog post is excellent. You are right, it is hard to build and maintain online relationships especially when you are after a large online community. This is my daily challenge trying to distinguish between my tweeples and build relationships with those who really give me value.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

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