A long time ago I confessed to @SilkCharm that I did not get Twitter and was about to abandon it. But at her urging I persisted with the darn thing. Then quite quickly there were a whole bunch of people following me, and it became necessary to develop a set of rules for who to follow back.
I developed a series of rules, which were outlined in a previous post, and these initial rules were pretty simple because I like reciprocity, real people and conversations.
Those rules worked really well for me for a time. But then the effort expended in analysing who was following & selecting who to follow back started to become too great an investment of time.
Now I automatically follow whoever follows me. The corollary to this is automatically unfollowing people who unfollow me. I do this because I still like the notion of reciprocity. This has freed up an enormous amount of time for actual conversations and other stuff rather than administrivia.
Over time I’ve realised that only a small proportion of followers directly engage with me & vice versa. When they do I’m happy to join in the conversation. Twitter is often about the network amplification of ideas rather than direct reciprocal engagement.
I find that timezones play a big part in who I engage with. Thus living in Australia it is mainly Aussies & Kiwis with whom I tweet during a normal day. But staying up late or rising very early shifts the engagement to the Americans & Europeans.
Adoption of the automation approach with following keeps open the flow of new people that I can discover. Sure some of these people are spammers, some are MLMs, but this approach is working for me at the moment. I’ve resisted the automatic welcome direct message (still feels like a form letter to me).
When explaining Twitter to people I often contrast Facebook and Twitter. For me Twitter is about the people you don’t know yet, while Facebook is about people you already know. However, the true value of Twitter as a community platform proved itself to me during the 2009 Live Local Challenge.