There are different degrees of failure. Even when specifically defined rules are suggested, failure is very subjective. Considering myself a recruiter rather than a social media expert, I hesitate to even offer advice on the subject, but there are some assumed rules of the Twitter highway that need to be broken and others which are so common-sense they should be mile markers etched in marble to show the way. For example, do following and follower numbers mean anything? Probably not, but in certain situations it can be critical. Do you need to follow everyone who follows you? Maybe sometimes. So here is my take on following people on Twitter: It’s a nasty job, but somebody has to do it.
Spam – Starting with the obvious, hundreds of tweets in a few minutes to a cloaked hyperlink from accounts with undecipherable acronymic user names, Twitter icon of a scantily clad female, following nobody and zero followers tells me you are a bot. Some unsuspecting user must be clicking on these links for you to continue to send them, but I report you as spam within seconds of seeing your tweet.
Zero tweets – You may be just starting out (we all did at one point), but I won’t follow back if you have never tweeted. Did you erase them before sending me an invitation? How’s that working for you? I suspect that if you are worth following I will find you again someday. Otherwise, I don’t really care if you get new followers. Engage me with something I want to see.
No-name tweets – If somewhere in your bio I see a real name I will probably choose to follow back. Think of telemarketing calls with caller-ID blocked…this falls into the same category. I am less likely to follow a company or anonymous Twitter ID unless I already know you personally or from another social media venue.
Eggheads – Please understand that this is the classic sign of a newbie and upload a picture! If you are a job seeker, please don’t tempt people to discard you completely by failing to identify fully who you are. In this day and age, the fear of discrimination based on the way you look is really paranoia. Yes racism and sexism does exist, but if you are going to run with the big dogs in social media show your snout online.
Protected tweets – If you are a recruiter and protect your tweets, you are an idiot. Why even venture into the realm of social media if you are going to add another step to communicate with you? I fully understand the need to protect your opinions and followers on personal accounts, but if you are tweeting professionally give universal access. What are you afraid of?
No bio on profile – Who are you? Tell people why they should follow you. For job seekers, this is your elevator speech in 160 characters. For others, tempt me to follow you without making me dig to find out if you are real. I follow real people.
No Link profiles – There is a place to include a link to your website, blog or other item of interest. Use it! Some of us actually check these out to see if you are legit. If I land on a franchised MLM page, I don’t follow back. If you are a job seeker, you absolutely MUST include a link to your resume. If you are a job seeker, please re-read this point and then fix your profile.
Egotweeting – Seriously, it’s not all about you. Do you retweet others? Do you provide any information that would be useful to your followers? Social media is about being social. Duh! The biggest offenders are companies who use Twitter as another job posting board but never engage anyone. Yawn! Tweeting with your friends is probably one of the best reasons to use Twitter, but don’t follow non-friends and expect the same degree of familiarity to work with them.
Salestweeting – Is every tweet you post telling me that I should buy real estate, products or services because you are better at selling these items? Maybe you are good, but I don’t need my Twitter stream cluttered by infomercials. If for some reason I thought you were interesting and followed you, but later get bored with your posts, I will unfollow you.
Overstuffed Turkey Tweets – Please don’t lead with a bio about being a social media guru or that you can increase my Twitter followers unless you have more than a few hundred followers. This is probably the best example of where the numbers probably are meaningful. Use your expertise on your own account first and then call me back. Or just give up…I can google the same info you are telling me is your proprietary area of expertise.
Part of my problem with believing that the Twitter numbers actually mean something is that it is so time dependent. Early adopters have thousands of followers and some of the newer entrants into the race are much more interesting to follow. Maybe I should reconsider using an auto-follow app to make it less of a clumsy trial-and-error exercise for me, but for now I still take the time to check each follower out and look at their bios, links and tweets before following back. Is it important to follow back? Yes, but only if you actually want to dialog with someone and their opinion actually means something to you. Should you follow me? Yes if you want me to be able to DM with you on matters that are of mutual interest. Not everything needs to be shared publically.
How to tweet, follow and follow-back is a very personal thing, but you can probably tell from my list that I appreciate real communication and tend to overlook some things. If you engage me, chat with me, or provide information I find interesting, helpful or entertaining, you are in my private list that keeps one column of TweetDeck occupied for me. Otherwise, your tree just fell in a forest and I don’t know you are there.
I hope you follow me @TomBolt on Twitter and truly engage with me for our mutual benefit. What are some of your suggested rules for following on Twitter.