End User social networking surveillance & privacy

My personal guidelines for following people on Twitter

I have been using Twitter for over three years now. Although there seems to be a huge industry and ecosystem building up around the platform I view it all simply as

  1. an alternative to a newspaper (I often hear news first on Twitter) and
  2. a social networking tool – basically what it says on the tin.

Whilst there is no real science as to how I go about using Twitter I have surprised myself and evolved a few rules of thumb to help manage my timeline.

By and large I only follow people, not businesses – usually characterised by “we are having an offer on left handed widgets this week” or similar. This is not a hard rule because there are some businesses there that I take an interest in – competitors and suppliers typically. It might also be a business local to where I live. Sometimes these factors outweigh the fact that their tweets might not be that interesting.

I also typically don’t follow people who are clearly trying to sell me something; “marketing experts”, “financial services experts” or people offering “advice to business”. Usually the timelines of these twitter accounts have one way selling advice/messages. I have sometimes taken a gamble here and found that I made a mistake (eg timeline gets filled with advice, often repeats) and subsequently unfollowed that person. Usually they unfollow me back very soon after. This isn’t a personal thing.

Basically I feel it is a two way street. Normal people that I can have normal conversations with are ok. So if someone follows me who is a “normal person” I follow them back after taking a look at their tweets. I often come across people I follow through specific hashtags (eg #deappg, #deact or #digitalbritain). Birds of a feather and all that.

I sometimes follow people who then don’t follow me back. This is ok – I have taken to following people who’s judgement / comments I am interested in. I don’t look for reciprocity though it is nice if they do follow back.

I tend not to follow celebrities. Usually they have enough followers anyway and are unlikely to be particularly interested in engaging with me.

I recently started to look to see who was unfollowing me, largely to try and understand whether I was annoying people (I’m a great believer in live and let live – life is too short to go round being an irritant). The vast majority are the businesses and “experts” who I haven’t followed back recently – a result really. No harm done.

Sometimes normal people unfollow me. This does make you think a bit but actually in real life you don’t make friends with everyone you know – some people just don’t gell. It’s normal and it must be said that not everyone can cope with the stream of drivel that sometimes comes out of @tref. My Twitter stream is just an extension of my personality – like it or lump it.

It’s a simple philosophy. I am here to engage and to learn and to have fun and occasionally to promote my blog posts and my business. That’s all folks.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

5 replies on “My personal guidelines for following people on Twitter”

Interesting read, Tref. I’m always wary of conflating ‘following’ and ‘friending’. I have some great friends I wouldn’t dream of following on Twitter. I have some people I detest, whom I follow. I also mix my stream up a fair bit, to keep me fresh, and avoid getting too echo-chambered or filter-bubbled, or whatever we call it these days. An unfollow from me is almost never an indication of emotional feeling, just an information subscription choice.

Thanks Paul. I’m sure there are also more nuances to my “system” but it is near to the end of the day as I write and I’ve kept it simple for my own sanity.

Interesting to see your thoughts on this. I suppose I adopt much of the same reasoning (actually I haven’t given it quite as much thought as you, so “reasoning” is stretching it a bit! 🙂 )

I do follow a few “celebs”, those who have something interesting to say or make me laugh.

I like this – all sounds ‘sensible’. Twitter can be a funny place – lots of people ‘follow’ but don’t actually read!? I’m pretty simple and can only keep up with so much information(!) – so those that follow 10’s of thousands much have special capabilities 😉

But on the flip side I know of many users that interact with people that don’t ‘follow’ back which doesn’t always seem polite.

Perhaps Twitter could provide an option to say why you’ve just ‘unfollowed’ someone?
A bit like when you remove some of the gentle malware type stuff.

Not seeing constant ‘I’m at the chippy’ tweets is always good as well! [4sq]

Runs off to see if I’m still being followed by @Tref 🙂

My following tends to be personal to me in that I have met the people, love their music (if it’s a band) or have an interest commercially or career wise in my Job role. I think your guide is good and I was surprised on reading it at how similar we are in who we follow and the reasoning for same.

I say things as I see it and sometimes that comes over as sensisble, confrontational, funny, upsetting, disturbing, annoying, antagonist, sensational, naive, immature and welcoming. If this is true then my Tweeting is working 🙂

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