James Mayes

Twitter snobs, you taught me something important

In Personal Development, Social Media, Twitter on November 19, 2010 at 10:32 am

I’ve been on Twitter a while now.  I started slowly (and as with a lot of people, didn’t quite “get it” at the first pass).  Over a few years, I’ve become completely enamoured with it and indeed my business is largely built on it.  One aspect particularly has become more evident to me over recent weeks – then I saw Andy Headworth’s post this morning and I wanted to distill my own thoughts.

When I really started getting to grips with Twitter, it became clear there were thought leaders to be found, educating and sharing their knowledge. I honed in on them as great people to follow, learning as I went and occasionally, commenting. I noticed two distinct types of behaviour in response – those who would check you out, maybe follow you back and almost certainly acknowledge you if you took the time to offer a relevant comment.  Then there were others, those who seemed to never respond and never follow back.

I looked at the Twitterstreams for this second group, to see whether it was something wrong with me or whether they simply didn’t engage with anyone.  For the most part, it appeared as though they’d respond or follow back if you had a decent following yourself – but not if you were new to the game.  I’ve tested this since by returning to the scene of the crime – refollowing / directing comments at some of those more aloof players.  I don’t believe the value of my commentary has changed much, but as I approach 1000 followers, I appear to be more credible – and certainly get more response.  Experiment done, I have no reason to pursue this group further.

I’d add that my followers are only from interaction – I don’t follow bundles of people hoping for reciprocation, or participate in chats simply to raise my visibility. Nigh on 1000 followers may appear low for someone who’s been here for a few years and works specifically in this space, but I’m all about the quality; I couldn’t care less about the number. I can’t talk to 20,000 followers, I can only broadcast. But maybe that’s a whole different post!

I’ve got no intention of outing anyone with this post – but I do want to use it to say a massive thank you to all those who did take the time in the early days to reply or follow back. Many of them have since become firm friends outside Twitter – but it was their openness in the first instance that made it possible.

As for the Twitter snobs?  I’ll leave them to their own devices – but with one request: if you ever see that behaviour from me, please call me out on it. If you take the time to comment, I’d like to think that provided your tweet isn’t completely inane, I’ll respond in kind. That’s why we’re here.

  1. Great blog James and I agree with you totally,I always check out peoples profiles before I follow them back,just to check whether they interact with their followers,or if they just spout out quotes,news feeds etc ….. those are the ones that DON’T get followed back :o)

    • Thanks Sara! I don’t necessarily suggest that everyone should be the same, or that a follow must be reciprocal – it’s just a behavioural pattern that became clear to me and I wanted to see who else shared that experience. It’s certainly sparked a few interesting tweets and DM’s this morning!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bill Boorman, Sara Headworth, Kay Phelps, Firebrand Talent, Greg Savage and others. Greg Savage said: Thought-provoking remarks from @James_Mayes ->Twitter snobs, you taught me something important http://bit.ly/dw18tx […]

  3. I’ve found that it’s really easy to get offended by others tweeting habits, when no offence is intended. Disregarding the content of tweets, I could easily get miffed if someone doesn’t follow me back, reply to a message, thank me for an RT or a #FF. In reality, I know full well that everyone uses Twitter in their own unique way, as I do.
    I rarely notice new followers, so only once in a while follow back (after a random check). I make a decision to follow new people pretty quickly, and unfollow as soon as I realise I’m not that interested. I know that some people follow because they think they should (to do with the NORAs or something else), but I’m usually not so interested in them. I RT regularly, but with no regular pattern, I never ever #FF, and I don’t think I usually thank people for their replies, #ff’s, or replies to my blogs. I don’t mean to be rude, I just don’t think they need my validation.

    • Safe to say your twitter usage is a close mirror of the real SO’D then! Must admit, your final comment about needing validation is one I’ve contemplated. On the one hand, I was brought up to say thanks when someone takes time out for me. On the other, tweets thanking for retweets and so on can spiral into a binge of self-promotion. Currently, I try and thank people for RT’s and #ff’s, but I don’t know whether that’ll continue?

      • Maybe I should issue a general Thank You for all the RT’s and #FF’s I get on a weekly basis. I do appreciate them, as it reminds me that people are actually reading what I write. I just don’t think I should clutter Twitter with unnecessary detritus.

        PS. My blog on Twitter Hijacking of a similar kind: http://ayeright.com/2010/11/that%E2%80%99s-not-my-tweet/

        • I noticed an approach on this recently which I like – someone I follow schedules his thank-you tweets to go out in the early hours. It’s doesn’t clutter the stream in general usage, but the intended recipients get an appropriate response. Might be the way forward!

  4. James,
    This is a good post which shows your view on twitter use. I think we all have developed different ways for using the channel, dependent on our objectives for being there, and the time invested. different types of users are not wrong, they are just different.
    What I am 100% in agreement with you on is that you should respond to @ messages and talk to those who talk to you. Anything else is just rude.
    What I have noticed is groups of people that like to use twitter in the same way as they used to use facebook. That is, keeping the majority of their “chat” within a small group. This is a mix of mostly “in” banter with some other posts. This suits what they want from the channel and is great for them. People are free to use the channels as they want. Personally, I like to use twitter to broaden the networks I’m in, in paticular finding new people, or responding to open requests.
    The chats are a great place to meet and engage with people who have a shared interest. I take part in about 10 during the week, although these are almost exclusively US based. I have taken an awful lot of learning from #blogchat, and some of the changes I have made as a result have made a big difference to my blog readership. I quite like being involved in jobseeker chats because I think I can help here, given my background. You get plenty of followers from taking part, but that is usually a result of shared interest, a bit like a conference back channel.
    In terms of following back, I don’t do that, nor do I believe in auto-follow or unfollow. I follow people thatcatch my attention.

    • Thanks Bill – I mean to investigate the chats in more detail sometime, precisely as a result of the value I’ve found in conference backchannel activity. As with all things, time is the killer. I do think Twitter’s greatest strength is the versatility of use – but that’s often the part that confuses so many new users. Everyone has a slightly different take on how to use it, so general debate and discussion should help. I’ve already had a couple of messages in response to this post from new users saying things like “phew, I thought it was just me”…

  5. Extra bit: I don’t retweet praise about me or #FF mentioning me. I find that a bit cringeworthy.

  6. Good comments James, and I like the sentiments.
    The biggest gripe I have with twitter users, are those who openly promote the value of `conversation` and `interaction` and, oh yes of course… `engagement` – but then when you activate these things with them – they ignore you.

    Twitter is full of great people who have enhanced my career and life, but also full of hypocrites, hijackers, fraudsters and ignorant people.

    Just like life really – I get used to it. 🙂

  7. Thank you James, this is a very good post. I find a lot of what you’re saying here to be true. It’s like anything, some people have their “clicks” and they keep to them. Personally, I like to follow people with whom I share interests and also with people I find just plain interesting, even if we don’t have much in common. What an great way to learn more about people and broaden my world.

    • Absolutely. Something I do actively is manage those I’m following on an ongoing basis. I’ll run something like TwitCleaner on a regular basis (I’ve blogged about that one before!) to see how people’s posting habits change. Helps to keep the incoming data stream more manageable!

  8. I have seen your updates about TwitCleaner and I’ve used it too!

  9. Good article James. I’m personnaly trying to get to grips with twitter and deciding who to follow and not follow to make sure I don’t get overloaded with information. I think the key as you say is building a quality network that is relevant to your interests.

  10. […] Twitter snobs, you taught me something important November 2010 16 comments 5 […]

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