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.