Who You Follow is Important and Here’s Why

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As web anthropologist Stowe Boyd likes to say, “The single most important decision we make in a connected world is who to follow.”

Your social networks are your window onto the world, a lens on your market. You determine how wide your you-are-who-you-followwindow is, and how focused the lens. Ultimately, your online connections will color your day, slant your view, and propel your actions.

Curate your network for value. You’ve heard this advice, but what does it mean?

It means you need to curate your connections. A timeline filled with irrelevancies should not be what you’re looking for, because this social networking thing goes both ways.

If you manage what you see, you’ll also manage what kind of inspiration it gives you. And you need to feel inspired to be someone of interest to others.  That’s how you’re going to connect with people — around shared interests and in conversations where you’re both sparked.

Your network should bring you fresh insights and curated news you can use. It should activate you and engage you.

Think about what topics and activities and fields you wish you knew more about. Personalities you’d like to know. Which group of people you’d like to be in conversation with. Which worlds you’d like to peer into. Whose research you’d like to follow more closely. The work of which experts you’d like to benefit from. Find and follow them.

Find and follow any people or accounts that will enrich your day, your thinking, your work, your perspective.

You don’t have to be acquainted with a person or company to connect, especially with LinkedIn’s Pulse influencer feature and Twitter’s and GooglePlus’s open network and Facebook’s subscriptions.

Don’t limit yourself to people you already know or who are in your line of business. The more diverse your influences, the more well-rounded your perspective will be. You’ll also be able to recognize trends and cross-cultural movements long before people who draw their information from the usual siloes.

Your social networks should contain contacts representing your mentors, peers, competitors, clients and prospects. Consider the robust world you operate in offline; your online experience should replicate it — and even better, extend it.

Once you start receiving true value from your network by curating your connections, you’ll have a better sense of how to provide value in return.

Take a look at your timelines. They are the fruit of your curation efforts. You selected who you follow.

Are they filled with information you want to share with your team? Insights you’re going to be able to synthesize and apply to your own business? Are you feeling uplifted and intrigued by the conversations you witness, are you drawn to participate yourself?

Do the people and accounts you follow challenge you (in a good way)?

No? Don’t be afraid to start culling. Then begin again, following people who will give you a window onto a world you can benefit from.

Here at Curatti, on a weekly basis, I’m going to be unpacking the mysteries of online community, and exploring how to organically grow a network filled with people who are all deriving value from their connection.

 

Image courtesy of http://creativeproject.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/8-twitter-tools-that-will-make-your-life-easier/

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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. Thanks, Anastasia for this piece. It reminds us that its the quality not the quantity of follows that’s important. There is value in this social media adventure and its really important to make the very most of the time spent here. Blessings, Rosie

    • Hi Rosie. Really! If we do a pretty good job of ensuring the quality of our sources, we’re going to have PLENTY to work with. And doesn’t that seem to be the underlying fear if and when we focus on numbers — that somehow we’re not going to be getting “enough” for our purposes?

  2. I enjoyed the piece, and I am honored to be quoted at the outset. However, I think you are still caught up in first-order benefits of picking those to follow. For example, rating the usefulness of their streamed messages. The second order approach takes into account tapping into those people’s networks: who are *they* following? In another piece I examine that at depth — Content, Context, Conduit: It’s Not Who You Know, But Where You Know http://d.pr/Y5CX — where I suggest that by picking the right people to follow actually makes the world a smaller place, and pulls you into more corners of it.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Boyd! I agree it goes deeper — and we can go deeper too. In the case of Twitter, when we follow certain accounts the people we follow are following, suddenly we can see the conversations they’re having — our chance to join in.

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