Saturday, July 25, 2009

Seven rules to keep your twitter followers

With Jon's recent "top 40 list of CMS gurus" I suddenly got a lot of additional followers. And I added quite a few of those people to my twit-list too. From the first few days it looks like I might start unfollowing some soon, but there's definitely a few that are a great addition to the list. While scrolling through recent tweets, I sought what makes tweets interesting for me and things that I really don't like. So here is the list (in random order) of do's and don'ts to keep my as your follower on twitter.

1. Yet another link retweeter

"RT @cmswire Open Source for America: Change We Can Believe In? #opensource #oss"
"RT @cmswire 39 More Ways to Get Your CMS Twitter Fix"
"RT @OpenText #OpenText Completes #Vignette Acquisition"

There's nothing wrong with retweeting something interesting you've heard somebody say. But if all you tweet is other people's tweets, I'd much rather listen to those other people.

2. Your opinion matters to me

Personal tweeting is fine. I love to hear what friends and family are doing. But from people that don't fall into those categories, I don't need:

"Ottawa Organic Market on Bank.... "

Don't just tell me that you're at an organic market in whatever city. If we're not emailing or calling each other at least once a week, chances are I don't care that much about your whereabouts. Sounds harsh? It's not meant to be harsh.

Because I apparently care enough about your opinion to follow your tweets. So how about you tell me your opinion on that market.

"the Ottawa organic market is really the best"

3. Challenge me

Even better, don't just tell me your opinion. Tease me to give you mine. It's OK to do a bit of trolling as long as long as you don't mind getting trolls back too.

"the Ottawa organic market is really the best, certainly beats the one in Amsterdam"

Now that's a great way start to a discussion. Because I really, really LOVE the organic market in Amsterdam.

4. Don't forget I'm eavesdropping

One of the worst things you can do to me on twitter is to start a 1-on-1 conversation with somebody where you forgot that I'm still there reading along.

"Sorry? Barbecue where? Are you kidding me?"

What barbecue are you talking about? Where is it? Am I invited too? If you don't want to let me know these things, why are you sending your private message as a public tweet?

Remember: if you want to have a private conversation, there is always still email or Google talk. Or even better dm in twitter.

But if you feel like you want to share your conversation with the world, give me enough context.

5. Give me context

If talking to someone in a public tweet, make it clear who you're talking to.

"@john123 glad you liked the post!"

It certainly beats the tweet about that barbecue. Because here I can at least check the other part of the conversation in john123's tweet stream. But still, giving me a bit of context goes a long way.

"@john123 glad you liked the post!"

One click and I'm at the post. But then again, why not just retweet the original and add your comment to it:

"glad you liked the post! RT @john123 good analogy on how to mix persuasive content with relational data in modern CMS."

Phew... 138 characters, that's cutting it close. But it has as much context as you can add to your tweet.

6. Tell me something I can use

A friend was apparently enjoying a milkshake a bit too much and had to share it with the world:

"Just had the best strawberry milkshake ever"

I like reading it, because I always love to hear about good food - especially from someone whose taste buds I trust.

But how am I going to be able to do something with that? Tell me where you had that milkshake. Believe me, I'd love to know - even if it is a three hour drive.

"had the best strawberry milkshake ever at Mill Creek near Mineral, NoCal"

Honey start the car, we're going for a drive!

7. I don't need more spam^H^H^H^H marketing

Corporate tweeting is hot these days. There are many corporate twitter accounts that are easily recognizable, because they consist of the company's name. But there are also plenty of innocent-looking names that generate a remarkable number of tweets that simply reiterate how great product xyz is or how well product abc would solve the problem I'm (not) having).

I don't have a problem with these accounts. We're all luckily free to tweet whatever we want. But if you'd like to keep your followers: keep your marketing to content ratio below 20%.

8. I read your blog already

Some people see link tweets as the natural progression of feed readers. I don't. I still have a healthy 100 or something feeds that I follow, just because they regularly show content that I like to read.

In other words: if you have a blog that is of interest to me, chances are it's already in my Google reader. So if all that you are tweeting is links to your blog posts, following you is not really adding any value for me. Now where's that unfollow link?

Mind you: there's nothing wrong with tweeting about your own posts. In fact that's what I'll do once I click the publish button for this post too. But if you want to keep me as a follower, be sure to add some original content into your tweets too.

And yours?

Those are the rules that sprang to my mind as I was scrolling through the rapidly growing stream of tweets. Do you have any rules of your own? How can I make sure that you don't click the "unfollow" link on me?


James Bibby said...

Are you actually blogging my tweet? lol I was definitely giving the market a bad review... there was only one stall, hence one stall FTL (for the lose)

thnx for the tips, will try to pick up the pace (my first week on twitter, so give me a shot)


Frank said...

I had to get my inspiration from somewhere, didn't I? ;-)

I have no idea if there is an organic market in Amsterdam btw.

James Bibby said...

There is a fave of mine in the Noordermarkt on a Saturday. The pasta is overpriced but the veg and the meat is luxurious.

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