You Owe Me Nothing (My Twitter Policy)

HomerIn the realm of electronic communications, you owe me nothing. Not a follow-back on Twitter, not a response to an @ reply, not an answer to my emails. You don’t even have to pick up the phone when I call. Counterpoint. It goes both ways. Earlier while talking Twitter with a few friends, I realized that I have no published Twitter policy. I’ve recently seen a few disappointments that stemmed from users not setting expectations for communication with them. I do not follow everyone back who follows me on Twitter. When I follow you, it’s because your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. It’s not a ploy to get you to follow me back, that’d make me a spammer. I follow missrogue, dickc, gruber, badbanana, Armano one-way because they have consistently excellent streams. Not being followed back on Twitter isn’t an indictment of our relationship, I have plenty of dear friends who I don’t follow. Twitter’s not a great place for conversation, for those I’m a bigger fan of friendfeed, facebook and the phone. I can’t take all of Twitter unfiltered and the only filter Twitter allows is Follow/ Don’t follow. “Follow me back on Twitter so we can talk.” Is bordering passive aggressive if there’s multiple other ways to contact me. I make myself available over email, by phone and on facebook.

Note: This works for individuals. If the Twitter account is for business / customer service, it may be better to follow all back and use monitoring tools. That way, all your customers feel listened to and have an additional means of contacting you (direct message), always a good thing. The downside, all those aggregate streams coming in make keeping up with the tiny newsletters that you ARE interested in impossible. That’s the trade.

Who are you on Twitter for?

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  • Lucretia Pruitt

    I love how you translated this to a post. I’m going to have to think about it. This “who follows whom or doesn’t follow” thing is kind of a big deal on Twitter. I vacillate.

    For me, presently, I learn more from following everyone back… but I have to put in the extra effort to check peoples’ streams/pages independently when I have a ‘deeper’ bond with them (which I do) and that’s more work.

    You know what I wish I could have? Not groups, or RSS feeds, but someone to build a tool that allows me to have a digest of specific twitter users (conglomerated) into my email box daily.

    I want to still follow all of the people I follow, but not miss checking up on dear friends without having a “second” account. That way I can do both.

    Hm. Going to go talk to @JesseStay of about that.

  • babby

    Clearly, I’m on Twitter for your mom. (Nice post!)

  • http://SweetGeek.TV Griffin

    it’s sad you even have to blog about this topic.. call the wahbulance people. :) take it easy jeremy. //g

  • Jeremy Vaught

    I only joined twitter so I could be ignored by you. And I even failed at that.

  • StephanieInCA

    I completely agree! What bothers me the most, and what I always sound like a huge bitch trying to explain, is how infuriated I am for the “Thanks for the follow” auto replies. First, I just hate auto replies. But more than that, I don’t like being thanked for following someone. I didn’t do it for THEM, i did it for ME. The best way to say “thank you” is to continue to be interesting.

  • kadavy

    I like your idea Lucretia. You may want to try TweetDeck, but, while you can “group” people with it, it disappoints by not providing a very long timeline of past tweets, so if a friend has a busy day, you miss out on all of your other friends’ tweets.

  • Paul Nicholson

    “I can’t take all of Twitter unfiltered and the only filter Twitter allows is Follow/ Don’t follow.”

    Got a solution to this problem for you–

  • Mr Lady

    YOU. Solely for access to YOU.

  • Dirk Singer

    Yes I agree with Lucretia, I err on the side of thinking that I could be missing out on getting some great insights.

    So my policy is to follow back automatically if – someone has one of PR, advertising, media in their bio, or they simply look interesting.

    Cases where I don’t? If the biog leads into some form of get rich quick scheme, or if there’s a ridiculous friend to follower ratio, say 1000:10

    But, maybe to make life easier, perhaps Twitter should give us space on our personal pages to write a quick follow policy. It would clear up a lot of misunderstandings!

  • Kevin

    I only follow folks that talk about how many followers they are from their next milestone. I enjoy being part of something special.

    “I’ve recently seen a few disappointments that stemmed from users not setting expectations for communication with them.”

    Poor people. Don’t take things so seriously.

  • akaMonty

    There is more to you than awesome hair, I can see. :)

    I’m with you 100% – I mean I DO appreciate a response once in awhile if I frequently @ someone, but I don’t just follow everyone back. I follow the people I am INTERESTED in, who entertain me, and that’s good enough for me.

    Wait, you follow me, right? heeheehee! xoxoxo

  • Jamie Favreau

    I use Twitter because I got something that is priceless to me from it. I got a feed that I could NOT get from anywhere else. Heck, no one I know even know it existed. I would like to thank @nhldigest for it. I don’t know him but he rocked with the feed and I am sharing it with even more people.

    I think it is about relating to people. I don’t know why anyone finds me interesting I just know that they do. Some people help you out, and give you insight if you ask questions, then others comment when they see that you aren’t there. I don’t know but it is a strong community. Because at a Detroit Tweet Up there was at least 80 people there.

  • T@SendChocolate

    I follow many who follow me, unless they are trying to sell me something or get something from me. I tweet people who don’t follow me and that I don’t follow. Following is not the end all and be all of twitter. I follow people I find interesting or that I may have something in common with…beyond that…I do respond to all of the @ to me. I like seeing my name in lights and love the idea that someone is talking to me.

    I have a Friend Feed but I don’t care for it much. I mostly just twitter. And I use summize to keep up with the tweets to me.


  • Georgegsmithjr

    Awesome post. I fall into the disclaimer category but totally agree with you. Seriously – the whole opt-in ability is so you can customize your experience. I hate when people get emotional over something so silly – but it totally happens. Hope this post helps set the proper table of expectations for the people that do follow you.

  • Hubert Sawyers III

    I actually enjoy the interaction on Twitter. I feel it is a useful tool, but a tool that is still very much in development. I definitely do much follow back everyone that follows me. I usually like to see if they are engaging in conversation with others, because I don’t do one-way conversation very well. I don’t like being “talked at.”

    I get what you mean though. Twitter is better as a news service than it is a good device to hold conversations. I mean, you only have 140 characters to make points! All the same, the telephone, Facebook and friendfeed are pretty much all the same in that they are communication hubs. They all have their benefits and it doesn’t hurt to have some sort of plan of how you plan to use them.

  • Mike Mueller

    Anyone with a Twitter Follow Policy is worthy of a follow from me! (ok, maybe that’s just because I have a Twitter Follow Policy).

    I spend way too much time watching meaningless tweets stream by. TweetDeck helps slow down that stream but I still miss so much.

  • Grace Boyle

    Interesting points. I like the idea of creating your own Twitter policy and posting it, so there’s no confusion and frustration from other eager Twitter users. To each their own, right?

    I use Twitter to interact and follow people who have intriguing content. I find things interesting everyday, so I share them and then like to find others with the same values. I’m less about, “just blew my nose, it was gross,” or less self promotion and more about being me and through this, I’ve met some amazing people and created a dialogue. I like to think of Twitter as the Wild West, people try to set rules and say this is the way it should be but it can and should be how YOU want it to. Every action has a reaction anyway (wow, that sounds preachy). Enough of that, thanks for the Twitter Policy I might just go post my own.


  • Audrey

    Ditto Dirk

  • Linda Eaves

    I was sent to you by way of Laura Roeder. This blog post is one of my favorites because it makes clear the distinction between someone unfollowing you on Twitter vs. another site like Facebook. Thanks.

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