After doing countless Twitter trainings with clients and managing many handles, I’ve realized that a person’s success with Twitter all depends on one thing – and it’s not the number of Twitter followers they have.
The truth is, the one thing that will really change the way you use the platform is who you are following. This will affect who follows you and it will determine the quality of content you are seeing. It will also address the two concerns I hear time and time again from people just starting out on Twitter:
When you follow the right people, your time will be more efficient because you won’t be following people who tweet junk, and therefore you won’t have to shift through junk to see what is being said. You’ll also see the point of Twitter more quickly, since determining who “the right people” are will force you to establish your purpose for using the platform. When you understand your goal and then follow the people who will get you there – you’ll inevitable figure out the point of the platform.
But following the right people isn’t just imperative for newbies. It’s a best practice for all of us. Everyone goes through Twitter slumps from time to time. You know, those days (OK sometimes weeks) where you feel like everyone is tweeting about their breakfasts and there is nothing interesting to say or re-share. That, my friend, means it is time for a Twitter Spring Cleaning. This is where you cull through the people you are following, determining who is still relevant to your current goals, and cutting those who are not.
As I am in the middle of one such spring cleaning myself, I thought I’d put together some tips for those of you who also might like to do a little list refining.
• Don’t be afraid to cut someone - No matter how many followers you have, unfollowing someone isn’t a crisis. People on Twitter understand that everyone is on there for different reasons and an unfollow isn’t an indication that that person is irrelevant – they just aren’t relevant to you. My only caveat would be, don’t unfollow someone who you think may notice and be genuinely offended that you are no longer following them. Those few people you should keep.
• Make a criteria for who stays – I am very clear about who I am following and why. Are they someone who will actually talk to me? Are they providing me with insightful information about social media, pr or marketing? Are they a client? These are all my reasons for keeping someone. Anyone who doesn’t fall into these categories, I am cutting.
• Check if they are following you back- When a lot of us started on Twitter we all began following celebrities and social media “gurus.” While some of these people may be tweeting some very interesting content, they don’t know who you are and they definitely won’t be reading your blog. I cut a lot of these people because I’ll see their content anyway when the people I follow retweet them all day long.
• Organize the people you are keeping – Once I stated my criteria to myself, I made Twitter lists. As I have begun the lengthy process of weeding through people, I add each person I keep to a list. If they don’t fit on one of these lists, then they don’t fit my criteria, and they are gonna get the cut. For the people who fit on more than one list, I try to choose which one suits them best. This way, when I browse for content via my lists, they won’t all be the same.
• When you are finished, go out and follow new people – The beauty of unfollowing a bunch of irrelevant people means that you have more space for the people out there who do line up with your goals. This will get you more/fresh followers, who will be new eyeballs to your blog, website or personal brand. For tips on how to find new “right people” to follow, check out this guest post I did on the Flowtown blog a couple of months back.
• Do a gut check – Does this person annoy you? If so, unfollow them. I am not a fan of people who are tweeting out song lyric quotes or pressing the RT button all day long (add a little context to your RTs, people!). So even if they fit into one of your categories, but your Twitter styles don’t jive, there is no need to follow them. If you are really nervous about cutting someone just because they bug you, you can still list them, even if you aren’t following them. That way you can still check in with them from time to time, but their tweets aren’t clogging your stream.
There are many people on Twitter who will tell you to follow back pretty much everyone who follows you. While I think that sounds nice in theory, I don’t think the current landscape on Twitter allows for that. Almost everyone has an agenda (or they should), so find the people whose agenda lines up with yours and keep them. Then, cut the rest. It will make your use of Twitter much more efficient and it will help you prioritize who is worth a relationship investment. Best of all, it will keep you interested in the platform by ensuring that the content you are reading is top quality and on target with your goals.