Why I DO Follow You on Twitter

Last week I wrote a post called “Why I Don’t Follow You on Twitter.” That post pointed to Twitter techniques that make me run away.  This one is about techniques, ideas and tips that make me bookmark your site or follow you on Twitter. Best of all, it’s not just the opposite of what I said before.

1. Your home page is a variety of posts. When someone says they are following me, I immediately go to their Twitter home page and scan the page of posts they’ve left. If I see a mix of interesting comments, RTs (Re-Tweets–forwarding someone else’s posts you found interesting), and links, it makes me think you are exploring and sharing the good stuff.

2. You tell me why. Follow Friday (people recommending other people to follow) is a free-for-all. I’m sure a lot of people recommend others to get recommended back. Much smarter: recommend people and tell me why. “Helpful in sharing creative ideas,” “Blogs wisely on keeping clients.” Recommendations with explanations are also good for RTs and links.

3. Your writing is clear. I won’t understand everyone, don’t expect to. But if your tweets contain a bewildering message I can not decipher, using a mix of jargon, abbreviations and private references, I won’t be interested. This is not a slight, I don’t expect to understand or be intereseted in every topic. But if you want a wide-ranging audience, you have to use common words that most people understand. Here’s one I don’t get: “Cold’s better, 2 is legend,  inFamous is done… now, onto 3.”

4. You seem informed and cheerful. I know that cynicism is cool, and arrogance is the new humility. I just don’t agree with it. You don’t have to be Pollyanna, but while I love snark, there is a fine line between snark and snide.

5. You keep it interesting. I know that SEO and internet marketing gurus say to stick with one topic. I’m a fan of wide-ranging interests. If all your posts are about Tibetan throat-singing, I’m not going to follow you because I have only a passing interest in that. You may surely gather a focused group, and if that is what you want, excellent.  But if you toss in an occasional post about the Tibetan landscape,  poetry, some cultural information or links, or interesting links and descriptions of food, geography and history, I’m following you. I may not buy your CD on Tibetan throat-singing, though. And if that’s all you care about, you don’t want me following you anyway.

6. You are a good writer. OK, I promised not to simply reverse what I said last week. And I DID say I don’t follow people who can’t write. But a lot of writers could be good with just a few changes:

  • Get rid of all those multiple exclamation points and use one strong verb instead.
  • Reduce the number of elipses (those spaced dots . . . like that) or simply use them the way they are meant to be used–to indicate something missing. It’s not an indication you are thinking. It’s not the universal punctuation that can replace everything else.
  • Link to concepts, not to definitions of every word you can find in Wikipedia. (See, no link, because my readers know what Wikipedia is, and can Google it if they don’t.)

7. You are nice. One of the best tips I ever saw on Twitter was this one: Instead of just following someone back, go to their home timeline (by clicking on their name in a Twitter post or email), scan their page for a great post and Re-Tweet it. It immediately does a lot of good things–passes on a good idea, lets the other person know you actually read what they write, and makes you look smart and kind.

Go out and have fun. Twitter is an interesting collection of people. Pick interesting ones and you will not grumble about it.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach. She teaches people how to write for fun and pleasure. Follow her on Twitter. But only if you think it’s interesting.

13 thoughts on “Why I DO Follow You on Twitter

  1. I agree with this list! I am fairly new to twitter. As a writer, I’ve always rejected the 140 character thing and also grew weary of all the Twitter-talk. Once I got on it, I didn’t know how to pick and choose who I follow. I learned quickly and my criteria mirrors yours almost exactly — with minor additions.


  2. I think we are all promoting ourselves in one fashion or another but like you, I prefer to interact with real people. Real people work and they cook and they play and they take holidays and they have bad days. These same real people also buy our products, visit our websites and use our services.

    I met someone through Twitter recently and I’m getting on a plane next month to take a course from her. If she’d only promoted her course I wouldn’t have taken a second look. She showed me how clever she was by her website and her interaction with others.

    • We promote ourselves in very interesting ways. Some of us promote ourselves without revealing ourselves, some of us promote the person we wish we could be. I’m interested in the imperfect people who are revealing themselves. That’s what’s so very interesting to me. It’s that examined life again.

  3. Pingback: Why I Don’t Follow You on Twitter « QuinnCreative

  4. Well said. All good points but keeping things interesting and varied is crucial. I totally agree that one can take their niche too seriously. I Tweet about a lot of Web/design/social media/ and related stuff because I’m a Web designer/strategist. I like to share such ideas, and learn from, my peers in the field. I used to be Webmaster for a university so I also follow many people in higher education and continue to discuss topics related to that.

    But, I have also been known to Tweet about bacon, philosophy and movies or link to a photo I just took of what I made for dinner. I think the latter bits of more trivial matter are important to share because they give people a sense of me as a person, not just me as a Web nerd.

    I learned to Tweet this way by following the lead of the people I find most interesting on Twitter. I enjoy a combination of dialog, links, retweets and such, so in turn I try to deliver the same. It’s hard to get to know people in 140 character bites, but if people Tweet with sufficient variety their personalities really do begin to emerge.

    Cheers, @hacool

    • I think there is a difference between Twittering for social networking reasons and marketing reasons. On Twitter, I allow myself to be the artist and journal-keeper, the writer who makes meaning. I have another whole business life as a trainer and Web writer. By not needing to brand myself on Twitter, I get to write about bacon and movies and me as a person. Yes, that’s exactly why I like Twitter.

    • Well, with 140 characters, if you mix topics you don’t qualify your message. You could blur your branding. It depends on your goal, but most people thing you shouldn’t tweet as a nurse, romance writer, pilot, shoe-fetishist and dog walker under one identity. On the ellipsis thing—yeah, that’s what they are used for. Remember, I’m older, so I was around when they invented them.

  5. I have finally gotten the hang of Twitter after initial fall-out and mild panic. Now I’m finding that I love Twitter for all the resources it brings to my attention. And I love that this post tells me things I can easily do to make the experience even more positive. Thanks for all the tips.

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