Why I Follow People on Twitter

The header for my Twitter page: www.twitter.com/LFarnsworth.

The header for my Twitter page: www.twitter.com/LFarnsworth.

I've already gone public with my love to Twitter over Facebook.

Many people use Twitter wrong—and they won't get any real followers that way. And some people use Twitter perfectly well for their purposes—and I'm still not interested in following them. My reasons for following someone aren't the same as everyone else's, but I'm not that different, either. In an article FrogDog wrote on how to get more Twitter followers, people's reasons for choosing to follow Twitter accounts were pretty much consistent across different types of users.

There are some subtle differences, though. This is how I decide whether to follow people on Twitter:

  • Be funny, insightful, and interesting. True in multiple media and no less true in Twitter.

  • Talk to people, including me. When I determine whether to follow someone, I check that she's having conversations. I like to see at least two replies for every original tweet.

  • Don't have tweet diarrhea. Twitter is much friendlier to multiple messages a day than Facebook, but I still don't want someone clogging my feed with multiple tweets a minute.

  • Schedule tweets wisely. It's disturbing to see two tweets within a few minutes on completely different topics or in completely different tones. (For example: 12:21 p.m. "The barbecue at XYZ is hands-down best in town." 12:25 p.m. "Sometimes I just want to cry.") Also, it's annoying to reply to a tweet and be left hanging.

  • Don't buy (or steal) content. I've seen "clever" tweets repeated across multiple accounts on the same or subsequent days. Yuck.

  • Use quotes sparingly. I want to hear your thoughts. Not a famous person's thoughts regurgitated verbatim.

  • Skip controversy for the sake of controversy. Some people love to be seen as edgy or fierce or wild. This reminds me of middle-school kids in the mall pretending to be cool. When I see these kids, I feel vicariously embarrassed. As I do for people who attempt the Twitter version of the same thing.

  • Be real. As a corollary to most of the above: Be yourself. (And if you really are edgy and fierce and wild, I'll believe it when I see it.)

If I choose to follow someone, he doesn't need to follow me back straightaway. However, if he doesn't respond when I try to talk to him or doesn't follow me back after multiple conversations, I typically unfollow him. Why? Clearly, he's not interested in what I have to say or in dialogue that he doesn't start personally. Some people don't mind this—especially people who follow celebrities, who rarely follow anyone back—but I'm on Twitter for the conversation.

I'm having a hard time finding new good people to follow on Twitter. And there are a decreasing number of legitimate people following me. Twitter has clearly reached a maturity stage, in which it's growing more slowly and its users are more established.

Based on my criteria, who should I follow on Twitter?