Roughly 10 months and 3,000 Tweets ago, I signed up for Twitter. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I’ll pick up my 500th follower.
Every time I see that number, I’m a little surprised. I always though I’d be one of those people with a relatively small Twitter following. I’m even more surprised at the gap between the number of people I follow and my followers. I know that the conventional wisdom for many social media folks is that you should follow back everyone who follows you, or nearly so. And for many months, that was my practice. But as the number of people on my follow list crept over 200, I found myself throttling back more and more.
If this were all about just random people and social chat, none of this would be particularly noteworthy. However, in my new job, a not-insignificant number of the user group managers I support are on Twitter, talking to each other (and to me) there. This isn’t just about fun chat anymore, it’s a part of my real work. I need to make that aspect of my Twitter-life a priority.
It’s easier said than done, though. On the one hand, I’ve built connections to a bunch of people on Twitter that I value, and I don’t want to give that up. I also want to have a broad range of voices in my Twitter stream; that’s part of its value. On the other hand, I need to keep the noise level manageable. I just don’t have the bandwidth to follow 500 people; I have to get my work done. I can’t spend all day glued to Twhirl or hitting reload in the browser.
The net result is that right now, I don’t generally follow back new followers unless I already know them or unless they’re part of the Adobe ecosystem, and that I’ve dropped a bunch of people I used to follow – mostly the ones I never had any real interaction with.
Whether I’ll stick to this policy as time goes on, I don’t know. Considering how flaky Twitter has been recently, and how fast the early adopters get bored with their shiny toys, things could be completely different in 6 months. For now, though, that’s the plan.