Gini Dietrich

What Is Your Twitter Policy?

By: Gini Dietrich | November 22, 2010 | 
100

The Beast and I went for a run this morning (what can I say? It’s too dark to ride and waaaay too warm to be inside) and I listened to Mitch Joel and Mark Schaefer debate the Twitter elite on the Six Pixels of Separation podcast. If you have 40 minutes while exercising or commuting to work, I recommend you listen to it. As always, they debate professionally and with great respect for one another. It makes me heart them both even more.

But this isn’t a love fest for the two of them. This is a discussion on Twitter policies. And I half agree with Mitch and I half agree with Mark.

When I started on Twitter, it was after I saw Robert Scoble speak at the PRSA Counselors Academy conference in May of 2007. I joined as BearsFan07 to really understand what it was Robert was talking about and to see if it really had any application to business. I was really terrible at Twitter. I didn’t get it at all. I couldn’t understand how people I didn’t know were texting me (yes, it was only text back then) about the Bears games. And I would respond, but without an @ reply, just respond…to the entire Twittersphere. I did not get it.

But then I decided it was time to take it seriously and I shut down BearsFan07 and grabbed my name sometime in 2008 (I think March?). And then I began to really get it. I started following people who had “CEO,” “entrepreneur,” “PR,” “Vistage,” “cyclist,” or “marketing” in their profile. I spent every Saturday morning following 100 people and choosing 10 of those people to engage with at some level. Β To say I spent a lot of time curating my followers is putting it mildly. But that shouldn’t come as a big surprise – I’m obsessive about everything.

Some of the people I met in those very early days – Justin Brackett, Adrian Dayton, Mari Luangrath, Julio Varela, Kat Jaib, Rochel Roland, Shelly Kramer, and many, many others – have either become really good, in real life friends or people I would actually travel to meet. People I would NEVER have met without Twitter and without my policy of engaging with 10 people a week.

When I speak, I extol my Twitter policy that seems pretty pervasive among everyone:

* If you are following more people than are following you, you’re seen as a stalker.

* If more people are following you than you are following, you’re seen as Twitter elite.

So when I say I half agree with Mitch and half agree with Mark, that is why.

I totally get where Mitch is coming from when he says Twitter is like going to a bar, talking to all of the girls there, and being frustrated when none of them are interested in you. He says that’s what it’s like to follow a bunch of people on Twitter who either have no interest to you or you are not interesting to them.

And I agree with Mark that the way you behave on Twitter, what you tweet, who you follow, and whether or not your follower to following numbers are balanced creates a perception in people’s minds that you may or may not intend.

Solely going on the numbers alone (sorry, folks, I know numbers aren’t supposed to matter, but let’s not pretend they don’t) and the Twitter philosophy I discuss when I speak, Mitch is Twitter elite and Mark is wavering on extremely approachable.

Let’s say they both create, and provide, extremely valuable information for you. Who would you rather follow, if you could only follow one of them?

Thanks to Ken Burnett for the funny Twitter elite image

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks,Β co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She alsoΒ is the lead blogger atΒ Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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100 Comments on "What Is Your Twitter Policy?"

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HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 10 months ago
Listening to this right now. This is a tough discussion. There is more to Twitter than whether you follow someone back. There is ethics, the person, and what they have to offer. I do not follow Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, or Guy Kawasaki. The first two are self promoters who care more about themselves making money than their clients and tend to not talk with just anyone (this does not mean they are not nice guys in person, people have said they are). The third is devious. He was an early Five to Follow. I was a Noob. He was… Read more »
ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer
5 years 10 months ago
What a great post, Gini. I listened to the podcast yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. Me, I am the antithesis of elite, so I would rather be considered as warm, approachable, friendly – heck, even silly works. You see, all of those things, for me, are part of being human. So if I could only pick one person to follow – an elitist or a human, I’d pick the human every time. And, looking at social media from a business standpoint, when it comes to the clients I’d like most to work with, it’s important to me that they… Read more »
DannyBrown
5 years 10 months ago

Haven’t listened to the podcast yet, will do so later, but my current choice (and has been for a while) is Mark. I find he challenges more than Mitch. But that’s just me.

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 10 months ago
@Dannybrown This is an interesting point Danny. Its the reason why Gini and I do not read Mashable. I doubt you do either. There is a difference between being a Elitist Socially and being one Intellectually. Intellectually just means you strive to learn and grow and seek out people of your same level. Critical thinkers vs regurgitators (great place to learn people is Myers-Brigs) There is reason why so many people read People Magazine or listen to Britney Spears. and it’s ok that they do.And there is a reason why I don’t! lol So it depends on your audience. If… Read more »
DannyBrown
5 years 10 months ago

@HowieSPM That’s a fair point, Howie, and I think I recall Mitch either blogging or mentioning the same thing – he needs to be responsive to a certain audience so his blog won’t always be as challenging as a Mark W. Schaefer or a Geoff Livingston. Which is fine – there’s an audience for that. I’ll just pick the other two.

And no, I don’t read Mashable – ReadWriteWeb is more my cup of tea.

lesmckeown
lesmckeown
5 years 10 months ago
Gini, I just don’t get this ‘Twitter elite’ thing. I simply don’t know how to follow more than about 100 people and give them my attention. Folks tell me they simply set up a filter or a ‘special people’ column on their twitter client – but then they’re not following the others really, are they? They’re just saying they do. I know that the time I want to invest on Twitter is already stretched to be genuinely attentive to the folks I do follow – and if I was to allow that number to double or triple, I’d – to… Read more »
wabbitoid
5 years 10 months ago
My twitter policy is simple – I leave the big stream running at times to see if anything surprises me, but go to a series of lists I’ve made of people I don’t want to miss anything from. The real problem with Twitter, and why I don’t see it as a great tool for community in itself, is that it is highly time dependent. It’s like an unthreaded chatboard, to use ancient ‘net terms, and things fly by too quickly to set up a conversation with people who come and go. I do not use it as a community tool… Read more »
DannyBrown
5 years 10 months ago

@lesmckeown To me, Les, anyone that thinks there is a Twitter Elite – or worse still, that they *belong* to the Twitter Elite – should be kicked off Twitter and sent to MySpace. Or Friendster. πŸ˜‰

hackmanj
5 years 10 months ago
I think this is something worthy of some additional thought. Off the top of my head I follow most people back as long as their content is remotely interesting. I think this is something that I’ve been tweaking since I started using Twitter “seriously” for what it’s worth. I have to confess that my experience on Twitter is largely random, I don’t have any “must read” lists because I just don’t have time. I periodically glance at the stream and monitor mentions. I am not a power twitter user by any means. I will listen to the podcast today as… Read more »
JamesDBurrell2
5 years 10 months ago

@wabbitoid I couldn’t agree more with the fact that Twitter “is highly time dependent.” I manage multiple Twitter accounts, which is quite difficult and only exacerbated by the fact that, with each, I try to establish a distinct personality (one’s biz & the other personal). Simply, one thirty minute meeting or phone call and I’ve missed hundreds of posts and potential contact points with my followers & those I follow. However, as you mention, the great benefit to me has been accidental discovery of communities and blogs that afford honest feedback and great value.

lesmckeown
lesmckeown
5 years 10 months ago

@Dannybrown Isn’t that what Bebo was set up for? πŸ™‚

Sushi
5 years 10 months ago
I don’t have a formal Twitter policy: I follow whoever seems interesting, and if someone seems interesting, they should be able to follow me. This might explain why nearly twice as many people are following me as I’m following, but this is attributed to my ability to barely keep up with my current followings. Twitter’s non-mutual following nature is a good thing in this way; I probably would have given it up by now otherwise. Somewhat related, I do have a blog post on what people should expect when following me (http://www.sushimustwrite.com/2010/08/07/syw-follow-me-twitter/), which is something everyone should have. That bio… Read more »
wabbitoid
5 years 10 months ago

@JamesDBurrell2 That’s what I mean about using it as a point of contact. I have a method for getting people to think strategically that divides SM into community, contact, and content (the 3 Cs, very cute!) and encourages using each tool for what it is most effective at giving potential customers. It seems to work very well. The alterative seems to be gobs and gobs of time on twitter forcing it to be a center of community – time small biz owners just do not have!

wabbitoid
5 years 10 months ago

@shellykramer I had to “thumbs up” your post because my DNA gives me a visceral hate for elitism in every form! Modesty and simple human warmth is what it’s all about!

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 10 months ago

@wabbitoid @JamesDBurrell2 One thing I tell prospective clients is that 90-95% of all twitter and facebook posts to accounts with over 200 connections will never get seen just via sheer volume. ‘If something is tweeted and it is never seen did it tweet?’ But the more interesting you are or more value you bring lead to things like being on lists etc.

arminda
5 years 10 months ago

Good grief! That’s like a “Sophie’s Choice” question. For the sake of my Twitter therapy budget, I’m choosing not to choose.

markwschaefer
markwschaefer
5 years 10 months ago

I think I would lean toward Schaefer on this one. Clearly the winner on this one.

DannyBrown
5 years 10 months ago

@markwschaefer Best. Comment. Ever. πŸ™‚

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@markwschaefer I think there is some bias in this answer!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@arminda HAHAHA! I was in a meeting when this came in and it, literally, made me LOL! I had to put the phone on mute. Shame on me for multi-tasking!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@sushi I try to follow everyone who engages with me or reads the blog. Which explains why I was mortified when I realized I wasn’t following YOU!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@hackmanj My Twitter habits have changed over time. I do a really good job of putting people in lists (private, usually), but do a pretty poor job of doing anything other than answering @ replies and DMs when I’m on Twitter. It wasn’t always that way…it’s evolved to that.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@HowieSPM @wabbitoid @JamesDBurrell2 Right on that Twitter is so time-dependent! It’s hard to keep up, which is why tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck are musts. I can’t imagine ever looking at my “all friends” stream. I would go insane if I did that. So, instead, I have groups and private lists of people I don’t want to miss. Some days I do really well. Others I just plain old suck. I’m MUCH better at reading blogs, which makes no sense because they’re even more time intense.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@lesmckeown How did I get in that top 100?! Better! How do I get out?? πŸ™‚ @Dannybrown I don’t just think there is a Twitter elite, I know there is! People that act like they’re your best friend online and then, when they meet you in person, act like they have no idea who you are. It’s worse than freaking high school.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@HowieSPM I love how you throw in that I don’t read Mashable. LOL!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@Dannybrown @HowieSPM I’ve actually been thinking about this for a while – how people like Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, John Jantsch, and others appeal to the masses by almost giving up their intellect. As we build Project Jack Bauer, my team constantly challenges me to write things that are more appealing to a lot of people and I just can’t do it. I’ve always been a literature snob. Now I guess I’m growing into a blogging snob who talks to everyyone, but refuses to write for everyone.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@shellykramer Uh…I have never hidden my love of cupcakes either! In fact, I have some foiledcupcakes in the freezer right now to bring out for a party tomorrow afternoon! You should join us!

And I’m totally with you…if you don’t like me for who I am personally, we’ll never work together. Which is just fine.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@HowieSPM Do you think that Solis or Brogan started out as self-promoters? Or is it the nature of the beast? Oh. And. You’re still a noob.

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 10 months ago

@GiniDietrich @sushi well some people just dont like sushi. I tried it in college for the first time. It was bizarre. Like I was more proud I didn’t hate it that understand the true textures and flavors. Then over time I just got passionate about sushi. So this is a must follow for me.

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 10 months ago

@GiniDietrich We are getting T-Shirts made and some certificates of achievement that will be embossed with gold leaf and framed. In fact I will glaldy take down my college degree and replace it with that.

DannyBrown
5 years 10 months ago

@GiniDietrich @HowieSPM Careful, Dietrich – mindsets like that will get you called a contrarian, or hater. Or contrater. πŸ˜‰

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 10 months ago
@GiniDietrich first off I am always a noob. It is my Taoist Spirituality. In the Tao of Pooh the example of what you should strive for a child who is still in discovery. I remember a friends 3 year old who I got a Hess truck for Xmas. It had a motorcycle that came with it. He sat there for hours just amazed he could open the back door and put in the motorcycle and then remove it. He was in heaven. Kid didn’t even know he could push the truck around! I think for Brogan and Solis they were… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@HowieSPM @sushi I used to love sushi. Then I had a really bad experience that put me in the hospital. And now I’m a vegetarian. But every once in a while I crave it. Badly.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@Dannybrown @HowieSPM I’ll take contrater on my t-shirt, Howie! In all seriousness, though, how do you write for the masses without giving up your intellect? Or maybe I’m over-thinking this?

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 10 months ago
I learn so much from all of you guys…thanks!!!! But, to the topic at hand, I will say I am still learning as I go. I do not immediately follow-back, nor do I expect it in return. I follow people in marketing, pr, social media, programming & graphics. As well as my Blackhawks & Disney gang! I try to follow people I can engage with, to experience the “social” as well as those whom may benefit our clients, or could be a potential client or partner down the road. I dont believe in following just to follow or to increase… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@sydcon_mktg TOTALLY agree with you! That’s why I have the 10 new people policy. If you have a chance, listen to the podcast. I think you’ll enjoy it…because they both agree with you!

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 10 months ago

@GiniDietrich Sounds like something for my morning train ride tomorrow! πŸ˜‰

wabbitoid
5 years 10 months ago
@HowieSPM @GiniDietrich Howie, I shoulda known you were a fellow Taoist (and also old enough to spell it with a T!). I’d love to know what you think of my humble blog – http://erikhare.wordpress.com/ – and I’ll look for yours. I find that Taoists often speak in a way that only we “get it”, which is to say we’re all on some other level (and possibly ignoring reality, who really knows?). But yes, to be a Taoist is to be humble and to still question just about everything! Many of us are just not a lot of fun at parties.… Read more »
ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer
5 years 10 months ago
@sydcon_mktg @GiniDietrich I actually disagree. Vehemently. Specifically with your following strategy. Why follow only people in your niche – so that you can all talk about the same things? I can get that crap any day of the week. I follow people interested in my areas of interest – sure. But I also follow many different types of people. Who am I to judge someone “worthy” of my return follow. If they have a decent bio and seem legit/interesting, that warrants my return follow. And I follow some people – many way smarter than I am, and am not at… Read more »
sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 10 months ago
@shellykramer @GiniDietrich I see what you are saying. But I wouldnt say that I am judging someone worthy or not. There are lots of people I follow outside of my “niche” and many are follow backs, after I peruse their tweeter feed and see if there is a connection there, no matter what it may be. Otherwise, if I didnt have some type of guidelines where or how would I decide who to follow. As I said, I am still fairly new to this (compared to this crew here) and over the course of the past year I have expanded… Read more »
wabbitoid
5 years 10 months ago
@sydcon_mktg @shellykramer @GiniDietrich Shelly, I know just what you mean. I do look at the whole 2000-some people I follow for a while every day, usually when I’m having a snack or making tea or other thing. I owe it to the world to watch the entire news ticker go by to see what surprises me – and something always does. I reccomend it highly – although not for long! I also have many lists that I follow which allow me to manage by topic a bit more. I glance at each one of them when I have a chance.… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@shellykramer @sydcon_mktg Ah – sorry for the confusion. I totally agree with Jennifer in that it doesn’t matter if you have 200 or 2,000 followers/following. But I agree with you in that I’m as interested in the guy who parks cars for our building as I am of the chef-owner of Gini Dietrich’s cafeteria in our building. Of the people I listed in my original post, you (Shelly) are the only one in a similar business. Everyone else are just people I genuinely like.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@shellykramer P.S. And Milk Duds.

Sushi
5 years 10 months ago

@HowieSPM @GiniDietrich I guess you two won’t be joining #wrimosagainsttheeatingofsushi, then. Every time someone eats me, I feel pain. Physical pain. How can I write while feeling such pain? πŸ˜‰

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 months ago

@sushi @HowieSPM Aren’t you glad I’m a vegetarian now??

delwilliams
5 years 10 months ago

I sort of agree. I followed for followed, but found way too much spam on my stream, so I did the “no, no” and unfollowed all. The benefit has been I am talking more to people, and zero spam. The downside is lost some good people who took it as a personal assault on them when it was not. I have thought of following more, and now that I see how Gini did hers, I may do mine that way. I like it.

mirbiz
5 years 10 months ago

My only policy, which is kind of a new one, is that the other person has to have a mention in their twitter feed. Meaning they sent an a message to someone and the message has to be legit not a question a random question. This shows that they are conversing with people on Twitter and aren’t just Tweeting stuff.

In addition to people who don’t socialize on Twitter, I also don’t followback people who have mad RTs in their stream. There needs to be an RT limit, some people really abuse it.

The worst is when people RT themselves.

mirbiz
5 years 10 months ago

My only policy, which is kind of a new one, is that the other person has to have a mention in their twitter feed. Meaning they sent an a message to someone and the message has to be legit not a question a random question. This shows that they are conversing with people on Twitter and aren’t just Tweeting stuff.

In addition to people who don’t socialize on Twitter, I also don’t followback people who have mad RTs in their stream. There needs to be an RT limit, some people really abuse it.

The worst is when people RT themselves.

antwizzel
antwizzel
5 years 10 months ago
First time for me on this blog. YAY. Hi πŸ™‚ I have spent SO SO many hours on Twitter over the last year and now that I read your post, I’m thinking I don’t really have a Twitter policy. I follow both. The elite and the approachable kind. I tend to lean towards the approachable kind simply because they are more fun and deliver just as valuable content. If I had to choose one of the two, I’d choose Mark. To me, people are people. Elite or not. Content is important but character is more important to me. I don’t… Read more »
mirbiz
5 years 10 months ago
My only policy, which is kind of a new one, is that the other person has to have a mention in their twitter feed. Meaning they sent a message to someone and the message has to be legit not a random question that looks automated. This is to make sure the person is conversing with people on Twitter and isn’t just Tweeting stuff. In addition to people who don’t socialize on Twitter, I also don’t followback people who have mad RTs in their stream. There needs to be an RT limit. Some people really abuse it. The worst is when… Read more »
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