Make an Intro with your Twitter Follow

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Heaven is a CupcakeHeaven is a Cupcake – @heavensacupcake
It annoys me when someone follows you, so you follow back and then they unfollow! Not good twitter etiquette. :p

So “Heaven”‘s tweet here caught my eye, and I wanted to just share my thoughts on some Twitter etiquette that might go a long way towards building better relationships in your Twitter account. Obviously – playing counting games (like is described in the tweet above) is just silly. Un-following someone should really just be a product of their bad etiquette – not some sort of accumulation scheme.

Ahmad HammoudAhmad Hammoud – @Hammoud_
Twitter Etiquette 101: Never ask anyone to follow you.

On the other end of the etiquette spectrum are opinions like what Ahmad’s shared here, that you shouldn’t be asking for follows. I’m not sure I’d go with “never” when it comes to this sort of thinking – but I think it’s definitely true that you don’t want to harass people with suggestions that they follow you. But I think there’s room to suggest that following you could lead to a better relationship. I mean, it’s sorta like meeting someone and saying, “We should plan something down the road…” But in general, going out and pleading for followers sounds both counter productive (remember, your followers get everything you’re publishing) and not likely to gain you any new followers. So there’s really no point.

Nat_DreamerNat_Dreamer – @Natate85
It is proper twitter etiquette to unfollow those that don’t follow back right?

So, here’s the interesting thing about Follower / Following rolls. I think people take it very personally. A lack of reciprocation on Twitter can feel like trying to do a video chat with someone who refuses to turn on their webcam. It just doesn’t feel right! But I think purposefully unfollowing someone who doesn’t follow you just because they didn’t follow is a little extreme, for two reasons. For one – Twitter hasn’t yet made it easy to figure out who your new followers are. I can tell you, even with full access to their development environment, I can’t just wave a magic (code) wand and figure out who your new followers are. Basically, the only way to find out who is now following you is via an email report – and many people have buried Twitter following messages in to the nether-regions of their email accounts. The second reason I think this is short-sighted is because a “follow” may come over time. What is needed is some sort of engagement.

My own experience lately has been great using a very simple framework for following people:

Dave ColeDave Cole – @HeyDaveCole
I’m now following @pabloimpallari for his awesome work on #fonts and #typography.

This simple introduction adds a lot of value to the relationship – instantaneously.

First, it lets the person that I’m now following know that I’m now following them. I gotta say – I’m surprised this isn’t an option directly inside twitter (to see a list of new followers since the last time you checked). It’s not. So, assuming that most people get way too many emails and aren’t paying constant attention to their new followers, this simple mention might be enough to tip off that I’m following them. If they choose to follow back – all the better (so that we can have more conversations down the road).

But this method also serves another benefit which I think is really valuable. By publishing this tweet, with hashtags to point out what topics really intrigue me about this person – I’m telling my followers why they might be interested in this person. Much like finding a great restaurant or a new band – sharing who & why I’m following could create value for both the person I’m following as well as the people who follow me. Imagine you follow me, but you’re also a font-geek (I know you’re out there @respres) – you might like to meet other font folks like Pablo.

This method serves one other purpose – which is that it provides feedback to the person I’m following. On Twitter, people follow at all times and for numerous reasons. But it’s never quite clear what tips someone from reviewing a profile or reading a tweet to clicking “follow.” By stating exactly what I’m interested in, I can provide feedback to the person I’m following of what I’d like to hear more of. In absence of any other real feedback or analytics about tweets – this provides a glimpse of input towards what sorts of tweets are really interesting to your followers.

Obviously if you’re following dozens of people a day, your tweet stream would fill up with “I followed … because … ” and it’d lose all value to everyone. But like with nearly anything in the social media space, if used in moderation, I think a friendly intro will absolutely amplify your social relationships – provide purpose to your follower / following relationships – and help improve the quality of the network you’re creating.

Think this is a reasonable framework for following new people? Think I’m being too analytic about things? Let me know – share your thoughts! Thanks for visiting. And of course, if you follow me at @HeyDaveCole – drop me a note and introduce yourself!