I often times find myself explaining the different ways a person can engage with others on Twitter. Professional networking, making friends, learning about different topics and so forth. A common question that always comes up during Arianna’s little Introduction to Twitter explanation is always :
“Hey, so should I follow back everyone that follows me?”
There is no universal answer to this question. It all depends on what type of party you’re trying to throw.
“Pfff, party…. what are you talking about?”
Okay, let me explain. There are four approaches to Twitter following.
The Rager – Following Back Everyone. Much like an out of control frat party, following back hundreds of people can leave your stream feeling out of control. You can’t hear what anyone is saying and the conversation lacks depth as everyone is distracted by the loud music. Additionally, you’ll get a lot of crap thrown all over your house (your Twitter stream) .
While “The Rager” approach has it’s disadvantages, it is a great way to make some new friends and learn about a variety of subjects. A way to avoid interaction with the morons spilling beer on your couch is to move your close group of friends to the kitchen. This can be done by making a Twitter list. This way you can have the atmosphere of a huge party, yet still hear what the VIP have to say.
The Networking Social - Following back only people with relevant interests. With this kind of party, your Twitter stream is medium size and everyone has something in common. Things can get a little out of control with this approach, but much like an professional event, craziness is limited. This approach is great for getting to know people within an industry, making connections, and finding some relevant information to your professional goals.
Exclusive Soiree – Following back a limited number of people. This approach only follows back close friends or people you wish to get to know better. At an exclusive after hours get together, this cozy atmosphere allows you to really get to know know a person better. You can read about their day, find the type of information they are interested in, and overall build a stronger relationship with them. If you’re using Twitter for business, remember that all successful business relationships are built on trust. At an out of control rager, it’s hard to know who to trust. I highly recommend this approach though it’s hard to be so selective. My friend Cameron said it best in a post about keeping your friends at the front of your bus.
Drinking alone at your apartment - Following back no-one. This Twitter follow back approach is no party at all. You expect people to hang on your every word, you don’t engage with people who talk to you, and you only use Twitter as a mere pedestal for you to shout from atop. This approach basically says “Hey, I’m having a party – you’re just not invited.” I do not recommend this strategy.
Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to bring my stream to mix between the Soiree and Networking Social. My stream used to be a Rager and I found myself never getting any quality information, nor getting any benefit from my stream.
So, what type of party are you having?