How I Choose Who to Follow on Twitter
The number of people following me on Twitter seems to constantly increase, despite me not actually doing anything to attract more people. It's incredibly flattering, and I'm thankful that so many people seem to want to listen to my daily babbling. Unfortunately, the number of people following me has greatly exceeded the number of people I follow for a long time. I'm not trying to be clique-ish, or anything, but to put it simply, I refuse to follow more people than I can keep up with. I don't have a hard-set limit, but my ideal number tends to be between 250 and 300 accounts, depending on how active they are.
Therefore, I must be very choosy about who I follow, because if I follow too many people and can't keep up with them, what's the point? My criteria for who to follow is loose, and usually comes down to how much I'd like to get to know the person as a friend, but here are some things I look for. Above all else, if I'm not following you on Twitter, please don't take it personally. It doesn't mean I don't like you, or that I'm not your friend, or anything else. It just means that your Twitter feed didn't make the cut when I was evaluating whether to add it to my timeline. And if I am following you, I'll attempt to read every single tweet you write, because doing that is important to me, and it's why I only follow as many people as I can keep up with.
Things I Like
- People I've met in real life. If we've met face-to-face, it's extremely likely that I'll follow you, unless you pretty much do everything on the Things I Don't Like list.
- Female-identified people. I'll be honest, I'm biased toward other women, so if you identify femininely, it's statistically more likely that I'll follow you on Twitter.
- Other indigenous people. Pretty much the same story as above; I'm biased toward people with whom I share an ethnic background.
- Original content and creativity. Twitter is a communication medium, but it's also a powerful sharing tool. The executives at Twitter currently seem to believe that this means non-celebrities sharing the tripe Hollywood pumps out amongst each other, but that's not what I'm here for. What I like to see is creativity and original content shared among friends to build an audience. So whether you're a photographer, visual artist, musician, writer, blogger, or just someone who writes really fun tweets (like Explanoit), if you're expressing your own work on Twitter, that's a huge plus for me.
- Interaction, and balance. No one can reply to all the tweets all the time, but interaction is important. More importantly, balance between interaction and content sharing is vital. An account that solely replies to things is as uninteresting as an account that only posts their work without talking to others.
- Positive, happy, friendly people. I have times when my depression is overwhelming, and I vent it on Twitter. There's nothing wrong with that. But overall, I attempt to be a happy, positive, optimistic, friendly, and drama-free person. I look for the same in potential friends, and accounts to follow.
- People who are like-minded, or who don't start arguments about what we disagree on. I'll freely admit, surrounding oneself with an ideological echo chamber isn't a good thing, and I love to broaden my horizons. But I also generally associate with people whose beliefs don't anger me. Especially when it comes to politics, because that's something I tweet about regularly. Having views I disagree with doesn't automatically mean I won't follow someone, but I've considerably more likely to follow an account if its owner is "on my side".
- People who want to be my friend, or who I'd like to be friends with.
Things I Don't Like
- Failing at the basics. Spelling and grammar are important in any text communication, and tweets aren't exempt from this. If your account is compromised, fix it, don't abandon it and start a new one, or go around telling everyone "it's not my fault, my account is hacked!" And make sure you fill out your profile and upload an avatar.
- Protected accounts. I have a protected account, but it's not my main one, and if your account is protected, it makes it pretty much impossible to determine whether or not to follow you. So I usually don't bother unless I already know you from somewhere else. I respect your right to privacy, but realize that by setting your account to private, you're essentially preventing yourself from ever meeting new people via Twitter, something that the service is very useful for.
- Auto-generated spam (Tumblr, Foursquare, Etc). I hate these with a passion, and if they comprise a large percentage of your recent tweets (approximately 75% or more, based on a visual scan of the page), I won't follow you. I use Twitter because I like reading people who use Twitter, not reading spam from people who use it as an aggregation bucket for other sites they use. If you're curious what counts as auto-generated spam, examples include Foursquare, Tumblr, Youtube, Last.fm, GetGlue, Instagram, and any gaming service or other system that tweets on your behalf without including useful content.
- Visible use of unfollow trackers. I have no problem with unfollow tracking services, nor do I fault anyone for using them. But using one that posts to your timeline is tacky at best, and usually indicates that you either don't know how to use Twitter apps properly, or you're the sort of drama-magnet I'd really prefer to avoid (no offense).
- Regurgitation. As I mentioned above, original content and creativity are very important to me, but a huge turn-off is to see an account that constantly retweets and reposts material from outside sources. Especially anything from celebrity accounts, I despise celebrity worship. Again, I consider "excessive" to be approximately 75% or more, based on a visual scan of the page.
- Negativity, angst, and arguments. I try to be a positive, happy person, and I like others who are as well. But I especially dislike people who are constantly snarky, sarcastic, angry, arguing, or aggressive. Everyone has their moments, but if your dark moments greatly overshadow your happy moments, I'm probably not going to follow you.
- Drama. I graduated high school almost a decade ago, and I have better things to do than to engage in the sort of petty stuff that was popular in the vacuum of public school. I may be a playful little girl in a lot of ways, but I'm also an adult who knows how to be mature and civil, and I don't really have patience for people who haven't learned that yet.
- Fandom participants who don't like other fandoms. I like a lot of things that have fandoms and fan communities associated with them, and I'm heavily involved with at least two distinct fandoms. I appreciate that not everyone likes the same things I do, but vocally disliking/despising other fandoms, communities, and subgroups is just awful. So if you're the sort of furry who hates bronies (or babyfurs, for that matter), or the sort of brony who hates furries, I'm not interested.
- Heavy, explicit sexual content. I'm far from a prude, but my main account isn't where I want to see sexual stuff, and even in the realm of adult material, straight-up porn is something I have zero interest in seeing. So if you routinely post penises/boobs, or sexualize everything, I'm probably not following.