To Follow or Not to Follow

Turning the key
Turning the key

For a while now, there has been a debate raging on Twitter within the Masonic community as to whether people should always follow back or not. The truth is, it is a matter of choice and perspective. I should point out that my point of view has shifted through my management of the @HungerfordLodge account.

When you start out with a Twitter account, you start by following other accounts that you know of and value and gradually build a following for yourself. In this phase, you will follow almost everybody that follows you to see what they have to say.

However, after a while you will discover that you do not like what some accounts have to say or that they post too much for your liking. I have even encountered people that I followed, retweeting a lot of pornographic images which, for a man with a wife and young family who frequently see my Tweetdeck screen, is wholly inappropriate. I started by muting these accounts but then realised muting has to be done for each way you read your Twitter feed, so I decided to unfollow them completely.

This unfollowing became liberating because I realised that I no longer had to follow everybody that followed me. I then pruned a number of accounts that I had followed that had not tweeted in 12 months as to me that suggested that they were dormant and that there was little value following them.

Furthermore, I read a number of books by leading lights in social media (see Suggested Reading below) as well as looking at a number of successful accounts. I soon realised that the Twitter accounts that are valued by the Twittersphere are those with significantly more followers than following.

Twitter feeds (accounts) are considered influential when they have significantly more followers than following as what they say is shared with a huge number of fans. For example, people like Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) have over nine million followers and follows 50K. Rick Wakeman (@GrumpyOldRick) (Master of Chelsea Lodge 3098 and King Rat) has 30K followers and follows just 18. Ask yourself, if you follow a thousand accounts can you actually read every tweet they produce?

The reverse of this is that those accounts that follow many but are only followed by a few are usually identified as bot accounts. Bot, short for robotic, accounts are often spam spewing and in the worst cases used for trolling.  Trolling is deliberately picking a fight with another user for the sport – much like the playground bully used to do. As in the real world, best avoided and not worth engaging with as you will rarely enjoy the experience.

To attempt to prevent bots following large numbers of accounts, Twitter sets limits on the number of accounts that you follow initially based on your follow back ratio. If you follow 2,000 accounts, you will need to have at least 1,981 followers to go beyond the 2K following mark. This is why bot accounts encourage you to follow back.

Summary

So should you follow every account that follows you? Well, it remains your choice but the weight of evidence suggest that you do not need to and that your Twitter account will be considered more influential if you do not. After all, not all Twitter accounts tweet. Many are set up and their owner will lurk in the shadows reading what others are saying until, like in real life, they get the confidence to speak out on a topic.

My advice is to follow those accounts that influence you or that have something to say that appeals to you and not worry too much about people not following you back. If they do not follow you back, they have simply not understood the value that you can bring to their lives yet. In that case, the loss is theirs, not yours.

Suggested Reading

Links are to Amazon in the UK – other booksellers are available. These links are only provided to assist you. The Lodge derives no financial benefit from them.

  1. The Art of Social Media – Power Tips for Power Users – Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick – recommend the Kindle edition as it includes links to useful sites and tools that you cannot click on paper!
  2. Brilliant Social Media: How to start refine and improve your social media business strategy

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Author: Hungerford Lodge

A Lodge of Freemasons meeting 6 times a year in the Newbury Masonic Centre. 3rd Tuesday October, November (Installation), February, March, April & 2nd Tues December. Consecrated September 1925.

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