It’s hard to say what the perfect number of people to follow on Twitter is. For some people it’s a large number (and they have ways like lists to be able to keep up, although I don’t know how they keep up). For others it’s a much smaller number (I fall in this category, although my follow list is a little larger than some).
I don’t have a perfect number, but I was following close to 650 people until recently. It wasn’t the number that bothered me so much as it was the level of noise in my Twitter feed. I felt like I was missing things important to me. It felt like it was time for a massive cleaning of who I follow on Twitter, and that’s something we all probably should do regularly. It’s good to regularly weigh if the people we follow are bringing something of substance to what we’re reading on social media. No offense was met to anyone I unfollowed. I just wanted to cut down on the noise.
It’s important to have a strategy, though, to decide who to follow. It not only can be applied to when you do some cleaning but also when someone follows you or when you find a new feed to consider following. Here’s how I decide if I should follow someone.
They provide news and information important to me — I get a lot of my news from Twitter and in many ways it’s my RSS feed. If someone is providing me news I find interesting, I’m going to follow them. That ranges from local or regional news or about topics in which I’m interested like media news or about my favorite sports teams. But it also could be an account with transit information, emergency notifications or even a business I enjoy to visit.
I can learn something from them — I follow a number of journalists and others who I admire and I feel I can learn something from how they do their work. I’ve learned a lot from them whether it’s watching them interact with others, conversing with them or reading their work.
They make me laugh — I do follow some of the “joke” accounts for a laugh. At some point the novelty washes off, though, and I stop following. But there are others who make me laugh or entertain me on a consistent basis. And who doesn’t need a smile or a laugh on a regular basis?
I’ve met the person — Whether it’s a conference or while I’m on the job, I meet tons of really great people in the real world, away from social networks. It’s only natural to connect with them on social networks like Twitter.
I’ve worked with them — I follow a large number of people I either work with now or have worked with in the past. In the case of former colleagues, it’s a good way to keep up with their current work. For my current colleagues, it’s a good way for us to see what we’re all working on and keep connected. And as a social media producer, there is another added value for me so I can help pass on the work they’re doing.
I’ve conversed with them — I don’t immediately follow someone back most of the time. A good way to get me to follow back, though, is to talk with me on Twitter. I’ve followed back a number of people with whom I have had lengthy discussions and quality debates. And at times they’ve provided me with news tips.
I’m friends with them — These people also fall in many of the above categories, but I have a lot of friends on Twitter. Former colleagues, friends I’ve made through being a sports fan, graduate school friends and so many more. Even my little cousin is on Twitter. It’s just another way for us to stay connected.
I can’t say this is a perfect strategy for who to follow on Twitter, but this is mine. It has worked for me so far. Maybe it’ll give you some inspiration to find your own strategy. Do you have one already? What’s your strategy of who you follow on Twitter? Give your tips and suggestions in the comments section.