Twitter: the war between etiquette and value

Twitter: the war between etiquette and value

Summary: If one Twitter user's content is of no real value to you or your business, why follow them? If your content is of no value to someone that you follow, why should they follow you?

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Remember back on May 10, 2010 when the number of followers/following were both set to zero for a brief time. A random heavy metal band had inadvertently found a command line weakness and it was immediately exploited once the information got out. So Twitter put the kabash on the follower data temporarily while they fixed it. Personally I didn’t care much about my numbers being at zero as I knew they'd bring the data back up, however watching the waves of reactions, when everyone from soccer moms to influential marketers to small businesses, to music teachers, was showing their true colors and reasons for using Twitter.

The chord it struck with people was a little surprising. Right away I saw several individuals complaining about bummed they were that now no one was following them. Others were worried that they’d lose touch with people or not be able to find them again. Some folks openly said “I feel so lonely now." A scary thought indeed.

The Two Schools of Thought

I won't go into the old discussion about quantity vs. quality of followers here. That horse has already been beaten into the center of the earth. In this post, I’m more talking about the line between etiquette and value on Twitter, one vs. the other, OR are they one in the same OR does it depend and is it to varying degrees?

Here are the two main reasons people follow anyone on Twitter:

Option 1: Follow Those Based On Their Value to You or Your Business

Option 2: Follow Everyone That Follows You to Be Nice

Who defined twitter etiquette?

Who was it that decided, with a stone tablet and chisel, up on top of the highest mountain, with a long flowing white beard and white robes while the sun beameth down upon them, that following someone back because they follow you, was the official etiquette on Twitter? What is the genesis of that? If my content offers you no value, why would I expect you to follow me? If someone follows me and I offer them no value, then I'm cluttering up their feed. If their content is of no real value to me, why follow them? If so, why would that bother them if I didn’t reciprocate? Is this unspoken etiquette requirement just a reminder of how fragile everyone’s egos actually are?

If you find someone’s content valuable you opt in and follow them. This is a good thing. What happens if they don’t feel the same about your content? Does it bother you? The more we attach our emotions to the Twitter craze, the less useful and efficient we make it. My opinion of course. Maybe we're all digital connection hoarders, hoping that one day that 60,379th random person we just followed will say that one magical thing about something we care about that will change our lives.

How do you define the true value of a follow/follower

The true value of social media is and will always be (at least for awhile longer) one of the most highly discussed topics for businesses. Taking that convo to a Twitter-only discussion, I think it’s important to really think about why we follow people and what makes us or anyone else ‘followable‘. To me, followable means that your content is truly and legitimately valuable to someone other than yourself. By content I don’t mean just business-related. It could be anything – your hobbies, interests, sense of humor…standard stuff that brings people together. For those of you that follow 50,000+ people: If you were to look at the list of people that you follow, does every single person bring real value to your Twitter feed? If your answer is ‘no’, it might be worth some evaluation and pruning.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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11 comments
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  • Follow me follow you

    So, if I follow those who follow me, and they follow those who follow them, doesn't everyone end up with 6 gazillion followers? Does that really make you feel better?
    cwallen19803@...
    • RE: Twitter: the war between etiquette and value

      @cwallen19803@... - hehe...6 gazillion is correct!
      Rich Harris
      • RE: Twitter: the war between etiquette and value

        @Rich Harris I'm not on Twitter... do you think that could *ahem* be a problem? I mean, I don't get to follow anyone because I'm not a twit? Or tweeter or whatever they call themselves? Dang the internet!
        Shyam Madhavan Sarada
      • RE: Twitter: the war between etiquette and value

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  • Tool or Toy: you decide

    Like computers and other personal technologies of all sorts, twitter can either be used as a tool or a toy or both. If using a given piece of technology moves you closer to your personal and professional goals, I think that technology is serving you more as a tool. If you see twitter as a tool, then there's not much point in following or being followed by folks with whom you are likely to share no mutual benefit.

    If, on the other hand, one uses twitter as a way to spin away the idle hours, then I'd say the use is more along the lines of a toy, in which case following and being followed by a favored few or by countless masses is just a matter of personal preference and of no real consequence to anyone by you.

    In short ... establish your own etiquette ... what works for you.
    Trep Ford
  • Other reasons?

    You suggest that there are really only two reasons to follow people: Either Their Value to You or Your Business, or to Be Nice? Those are two good reasons, but I disagree that they are the only reasons or even the two primary reasons for following. <br><br>I follow people because I like what they've written. I follow people because they've included links that I've found thought provoking. I've followed people because I enjoyed what they wrote, who they quoted, or what they did. I guess that might be covered in your "follow based on their value to you" reason.<br><br>Most importantly, I follow people because I don't want to miss what they write in the future. My twitter lists function for me as my personal bookmarks to value - FUTURE value. When I follow someone on Twitter, that means they have potential.
    jakerson9@...
    • RE: Twitter: the war between etiquette and value

      @jakerson9@... Thanks for the comments...I don't see you really disagreeing with me here. My point is follow someone that has value to you. Which, unless I'm misunderstanding, is what you are saying here - "I follow people because I like what they've written. I follow people because they've included links that I've found thought provoking. I've followed people because I enjoyed what they wrote, who they quoted, or what they did. I guess that might be covered in your "follow based on their value to you" reason."

      I agree with you...my point is that following some back just because they follwed me makes no sense.
      Rich Harris
  • RE: Twitter: the war between etiquette and value

    Those who want followers are usually egotistical, even narcistic glumbos who want to boast how many followers they have whether there is reason for it or not. They don't really care who follows them or why as long as they follow.

    Followers on the other hand are simply out to get whatever they can without doing any work or research of their own, plus the above; having lots of followeds to get more followers. Note that these are often also children up to the ages of about 27. It dilutes and ruins any value that may have been there.
    tom@...
  • Mentioning Twitter and value together...

    ...is rather like mentioning Dick Cheney and empathy for other living creatures together, the intersection is the null set.
    schmandel@...
    • RE: Twitter: the war between etiquette and value

      @schmandel@... Nicely put. But nobody's asking us, are they now? :-)
      Shyam Madhavan Sarada
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