To Follow or Not To Follow, That Is The Twitter Question

Twitter is an odd animal.  There are unspoken rules, exclusive cliques,weird customs. But most importantly, everyone wants to be followed. Everyone wants to see their follower number rise steadily, even if it never reaches a milliwheaton.

The other fun part about Twitter is managing how much you tweet, especially because the Twitter stream looks vastly different if you follow 30 people than if you follow 300 or 3000. Someone who tweets “too much” according to someone who follows 30 people doesn’t tweet nearly enough for someone who has to keep tabs on 300.

I used to get upset when folks unfollowed me, especially if they were people I really liked. Or if folks didn’t follow me, especially if they seemed to reply to my tweets when I tweeted them. But not so much anymore. I’ve adopted the same attitude I have in the rest of my life – the folks who need me will be around, and those who don’t won’t be. It’s all good.

Meeting Fans at GenCon 2010

It appears my internet fame has grown since last year because I got spotted in the wild much more than I had at previous conventions.  It was pretty neat getting recognized and greeted by fans and getting to put faces to screennames and avatars.

But it’s always sad to hear, “I follow you… but you don’t follow me.

Why I Can’t Follow Everyone

I use Twitter to keep my fingers on the pulse of certain types of people:

  • close friends, family, coworkers
  • industry experts & businesses (dating biz, copywriters, marketers, probloggers, RPGs)
  • other interests (news, food blogs, vegetarianism, health, etc)

Twitter has also replaced my feed reader. I don’t subscribe to any blogs via RSS or email anymore. I follow them on Twitter and click through whenever an interesting tweet comes up.

At the moment, I follow around 300 accounts. This is a pretty good number  for me, as some of my followers are morning tweeters and others are evening tweeters. A lot of the folks I follow are what I’d call power-users. I see them in my stream a lot. Because of this, there are folks I follow whose tweets I miss frequently because they get washed away in the current before I have a chance to check in and read.

Following everyone in my main stream would mean I’d miss even more of the tweets by non-power-tweeting folks I currently follow.  And that would suck, because I really like those people.  Heck, sometimes I even miss a Wil Wheaton tweet – that’s how busy my stream can get!

The Next-Best-Thing: Lists

I maintain quite a few lists on Twitter, some public, some private. You may already be on one or two. Lists allow me to pop in and monitor conversations on certain topics that appeal to me and catch up with people who tweet while I’m sleeping.

In effect, if you’re on a list, I *am* following you. I just can’t handle having all of you lovelies bathing in the same Twitterstream simultaneously.

My current lists:

  • GDG staff – If a writer on our staff is on Twitter, she’s on this list. Even the guy writers (GGG & guest astrologer Ryven) are on there, cuz we’re nice like that.
  • Fit4GenCon - Folks who use the #fit4gencon hashtag are here. These are geeks with health & fitness goals for GenCon 2011. I’ll be adding a #plus5CHA list as soon as that hashtag starts hoppin’!
  • Dating – My collection of dating sites and dating bloggers. This is the only one that I screen people for before adding them. There’s a lot of crap out there in the dating website world. I only add sites I know come out with useful content.
  • RPG folks – Anyone who tweets about RPGs goes here.
  • Geek Girls – Geeky girls of all flavors are on this list.
  • WotC – Wizards of the Coast employees & freelancers

Ask Me!

If you’re not on one of those lists and it applies to you, send me an @ and ask me to add you. It’s just a couple clicks in TweetDeck and I’d be glad to do it. If you’re asking about the “Dating” list, give me a few days to scope you out after you request to be added. I want to be sure you’re the type of person I can recommend to my followers.

The fun part about having big lists? I may notice certain people that really inform or entertain me and pop them into my main stream. I tend to do a purge-and-add on Twitter every few months or so, removing inactive accounts and adding new faces. I’ll certainly be pulling from my lists whenever that happens next.

How About You?

What’s your Twitter policy?

Do you follow everyone back or are you more selective?

Would you describe yourself as a casual tweeter or a power user?

About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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