Who Should You Follow Back and Why?

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If you’re just getting started with social networking, here’s a hard-earned lesson many veteran online networkers are still coming to terms with.

Don’t follow back on social networks, just because. Establish an intentional follow policy.

Maybe it seems polite to follow someone who followed you or, you’re connected to them in some other part of your life and you don’t mean to snub them now that WordBaloons2you’re both on a particular service. These may not be strong enough reasons to grant space to those accounts on your screen.

Who you follow online is an important decision. It’s a decision with repercussions you’re going to have to deal with eventually if you want to benefit from your time on social networks.

In fact, your follow policy can make the difference between being bored by your timeline or enchanted. Repelled, or engaged. It can make the difference between feeling like this whole digital life thing is a terrible waste of time and energy, or the best thing that has ever happened to you, your mindset, your life and your work.

Following back seems to work for some people who have really thought it through: see tech founder Kevin Ashton’s reasoning behind his follow-back policy.

You’ll want to be very choosy about who you follow to reduce noise and increase engagement.

Keep your follows sharply edited so that your timelines are filled with useful information rather than distracting static.

As noted social CEO Bryan Kramer recently reported from Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference, people worry about how to cut through the noise but what they really should be concerned with is fostering an environment for engagement. They go hand in hand!

So, before you follow anyone at any service, check for value as you determine it. Consider not following accounts that will show up in your timeline unless what they share is justifiably interesting to you, or following them is justifiable.

Numbers are an issue because if you follow so many people you don’t see the same person twice in a week, you’re probably missing what concerns that person, and you’re missing opportunities to engage. That’s what social media veteran and founder of Duct Tape Marketing John Jantsch recently noted when trimming down his own multiple-thousand follows.

If you want to keep the auto-follow-back as part of your general follow policy, consider adding regular edits of your follows. 

As you learn the value of each account, edit. If you like what someone is posting, give them a promotion. Follow them on other services. Put them on a favorites list. Engage with them.

And when the opposite is true, when you don’t particularly care for what a person is sharing, demote them in your network. Remove them from one or all of your timelines. Use the filters at each service to either see those posts less, or not at all.

If you’ve already connected with large numbers of people and want to preserve the accounts, you might decide to break them into specific groups by putting them on Twitter or Facebook lists and viewing segments of your follows that way. You can also use Twitter lists to store potential accounts to follow in the future. Those people will be notified when you add them, and I think that’s more thoughtful than if you follow and ignore them.

Experiment with your options to follow fewer people.

If you’re following a ton of people, and you want to experiment with your options to start getting more value from social networking, you might like author of The Impact Equation Chris Brogan’s breakdown of what happened when he unfollowed 130,000 Twitter accounts.

So, the main issue with an indiscriminate follow policy? If you’re simply not interested in what is scrolling past you, you will not be inspired to interact organically. And that’s a key component to your success with online networking. I’ll be talking more about this key, and my own journey with global community building as a solopreneur, in this weekly series for Curatti.

 

Image originally posted here: http://moblogsmoproblems.blogspot.com/

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Anastasia Ashman

Social Community Builder at Selfish, Inc.
Digital life trailblazer. Author/editor/producer agented by Foundry Literary & Media. Entrepreneur drawing on New York publishing & Hollywood entertainment industry experience with unique global dexterity from 14 years of international living. Connecting people through content and culture, empowering you around the web's new vulnerability, visibility and voice. Get my on-demand, self-paced GlobalNiche social web curriculum for free.

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Comments

  1. Michael Nelson says:

    It’s a real balancing act that can quickly get out of control! I found that I use Twitter lists, Facebook likes (to keep people in my stream) and G+ circles to engage with the followers who are important to me. I also use Nimble to help me keep in touch with those I value.

    It doesn’t talk long before your stream in any network becomes so full that you can’t “see” anybody and relationships are a challenge.

    The challenge is to gather all the people I want to engage with and make sure they are in one of my “lists” so I can stay in touch!

    • Yes, Michael! I’ve kept my main Twitter feed to around 500 for five years, since that seems to be the number where I recognize everyone, but even so when I review it I realize there are some accounts I haven’t seen a post from in a very long time. I also rotate who I follow from lists I also keep, sometimes based on my time zone, sometimes to support a shift I’m going through in my work or life. I’ve always wanted Twitter to allow us a field in our bio for our follow policy…since it could help explain our actions.

  2. I agree completely, having failed to see what TeamFollowBack really achieves other than numbers.

    Way back in 2008, Darren (@problogger) asked people whom they followed and why. This was my answer then and remains my answer now. He RTed me; the irony is I cannot find my own original tweet.

    https://twitter.com/problogger/status/967249926

    A hammer cannot go looking for a nail; a nail has to exist and there has to be a need to drive it into a wall or a piece of wood before a hammer’s raison d’etre becomes relevant. Likewise with purpose. Platforms come later for professionals. The first question always is — why are you here? What are you hoping to achieve? I had tackled that too in a post from 2008: http://shefaly-yogendra.com/blog/2008/08/11/so-whats-the-big-deal-with-twitter/ I was new on Twitter then. It took me a while to join simply because I first hung around and observed.

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