Tips on Choosing People to Follow on Twitter

My friend Ken Cook recently sent me a tweet asking what my tips would be about who to follow on Twitter. That started me thinking about how I choose the people I follow there. As I started to type my answer I realized that I couldn’t give him an answer in 140 characters and this post was born.

I build the list of people I follow organically.  Some of its easy. People who are F2F (face to face) friends are an automatic follow for me on Twitter and interesting people that I meet as I travel around the country become an easy part of the list as well. I follow these people on Twitter because I care about them, I’m interested in what they are doing and sharing, and Twitter is a great place for us to communicate in an easy, quick, friendly and enjoyable manner.

The second group of people I follow are those I think are funny, interesting ,smart or forward thinking in their industries. I may not have met them yet, but I probably want to . I also feel that we have something in common or that they are sharing items of value that I can benefit from, either in life or in my businesses.

The third class of accounts that I follow are not really people, but are news services or businesses that share information on Twitter. News headlines on Twitter substitute for scanning a physical newspaper for me, and often let me know about breaking news before any other source. Businesses that offer specials or coupons, or information related to their product or services are also a source of valuable information for me though they are a small section of the accounts I follow.

But the second, and unasked part of  the question is why I don’t follow other people on Twitter that are following me.  Answering that is a little easier.

I don’t follow people who follow thousands of people, are followed by thousands of people but don’t tweet very much. This indicates to me that they have built their online relationships in an artificial manner which created no real engagement. Jeff Turner built artificial identities who garnered large followings quickly with no relevant communication. While I enjoyed watching Jeff do that to prove a point, my social media experience is completely about community and engagement so I’m not interested in people who don’t get that.

I don’t follow people whose twitter stream seems completely automated or self-promoting. And though I enjoy quotations, if that’s all you tweet, I’m not interested. I can get those when I want them from Google or Bing. If all you tweet are links , I’m probably not going to follow you either. Though my friends are an important source of information, and the links they tweet help shape my reading material, if all you do is tweet links, I have no reason to believe that you have filtered them, and no confidence that your filtering will help me find interesting relevant material.

While there is a lot more to the process for me, I hope that these few tips help Ken, and possibly you (if you’re reading this and you are not Ken Cook) understand my process. I would love to know about your process as well. What do you think about when you decide to follow or not follow someone on Twitter?