Earlier this week, Nikki Massaro Kaufmann wrote a post on .eduGuru about how to not expand your Twitter network (warning: be prepared for major tongue-in-snark). You can read the entire post yourself, but the basic rules that get you nowhere are:
1. Limit your followers with an arbitrary number;
2. Only follow cronies; and
3. Be a taker, not a giver.
Twitter is about conversation and engagement. There is no one size fits all, no magic number to follow, no single best app to handle twitter. In fact, I maintain that your personal answer can–and will–change as your situation changes.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to roll with it.
I don’t separate work and personal tweets and personas. I figure my
identity is a combination of both, so my tweets will be too. I expect
that if this isn’t suitable to you, then you will be responsible for
deleting me from your feed. Personally, I like having the “whole
picture” of a twitter peep, and find them MUCH more interesting and
engaging. Likewise, I follow an 80-20 rule: I use TweetDeck and tend to
follow everyone 80% of the time. I don’t always engage, and I try not
to obsess, but I stay vaguely aware of what’s going on with my
twittersphere. That being said, there are times that my twitter feed
and my workload are not compatible, and I need to drop the conversation
noise. When this happens (about 20% of the time) I reduce to a group of
local peeps because they are working and engaged on the things I am
working on as well. I don’t like staying at the reduced level all the
time, because I find great value added input from the greater circle (I
mean, honestly, from @fienen in Kansas, @kevinoshea and @davideisert at
Purdue, @markgr in Buffalo, my twitterstream is an expansive and
effective network of people I would never have otherwise “met”). So to
me, I obviously find value in a range of voices in my twitterstream.
Like@karinejoly, I always respond to @robin2go questions or comments,
because I want to encourage the dialog. And if you follow me, I will
look at your profile and, more often than not, follow you back if your
tweets and background seem like they would be a good addition to my
My selection of twitterers is much like real life. I have some who are
peeps I work with at Penn State. Some are design people; others are
education geeks. Still others are librarians. Some peeps are even
virtual drinking buddies. So be it. Again, I find that each group has
value, many often overlap, and most of them are valued for the
particular input they offer. Some are infrequent until there is an
event or a topic for them to tweet about; this is important, because
that is particularly when I want to hear from them.
what about the loudest voices? Well, either they’re for you, or against
you, as they say. We all know the twitterfeed can become raucous,
rebellious, and ridiculously loud at times. Conversations happen.
Networking happens. Go to a party and listen to the conversation. As in
Twitter, you will probably hear my voice bouncing above the normal
level of conversation. I find that I value these voices if they are
engaged in dialogue I find interesting or relevant. Too much so? Then I
find ways of lessening the noise. Sometimes it means walking to the
other side of the room for a while (twittersnooze, twuffer), and
sometimes it means disengaging that voice from your focus (unfollow).
consider, for a moment, the number of presentations and talks I’ve done
to promote microblogging–specifically, Twitter. Four times within the
last year alone, I’ve done events where we’ve created a backchannel and
encouraged people to sign up and get involved. These are noobs; some of
them never get back into the conversation, but I’ve had more than I
have expected stay tuned in and participate. They make their way up the
Twitter Curve and are engaged in the twittersphere. I think of Mark
Greenfield’s explanation that you need the alpha user to encourage the
new participants; I consider myself an alpha user with a responsibility
to those I have introduced to Twitter to be there if they try to
engage… or reengage… or reengage yet again. If they aren’t saying
much, then there’s no real need to delete them from my twittersphere.
In fact, I find that I am more likely to remove someone from my twitter
stream if I discover they are prolific twitterers but not relevant to
my needs or interests.
So in reality, was does this mean? It
means there are no real rules. You should be tweaking your network the
way it best works for you. Believe me, if someone doesn’t like your
input (or doesn’t like the fact you don’t offer input), they should
unfollow you in order to maintain their own network as it works for