Using Twitter

I enjoyed reading Frances Bell’s recent blog post on how people use Twitter.

She discusses the community of Twitter and the reasons why she follows certain people.

…follow if interesting friend already known to me else read the profile, follow personal link, read the last few tweets, follow if interesting!

Made me think about why I follow people, so I decided to reflect on the last ten people I followed and tried to remember the reasons why I followed them.

Helen Beetham – I have known Helen for many years through the work she has done for the JISC, and we even presented an online session together at the JISC Online Conference in 2007. I recently found (through someone else I follow) that she was on Twitter and decided to follow her.

Duncan Greenhill – was the 500th person to follow me, so I followed him back. I don’t automatically follow everyone who follows me, but will look at what they tweet before clicking the follow button. More recently I have been more reserved in following people who follow me, as I follow quite a few people now, 234 at the time of writing and like to be in control of my Twitter stream. The number of people is irrelevant it’s much more about how often they tweet that impacts on my Twitter stream.

Doug Belshaw – I found his tweets interesting, and “discovered” him via Josie Fraser in this tweet. In his stream he mentioned the Macheist deal which I had just purchased so I decided to reply and follow.

David Kernohan – is a JISC programme manager and was interested in what he had to say and was doing.

Neil Williams – was found via Steph Gray in this tweet. Neil was asking the following question:

What web 2.0 apps have you paid for and why? I’m writing a short blog post about it, and will blog the results.

I replied as follows:

Paid for Flickr, RTM (for iPhone), WordPress (for video), Gabcast.

Neil later blogged about paying for Web 2.0 apps. This follow demonstrates how what people do outside Twitter is important to my decision if I follow or not follow them.

Danny Nicholson – I followed as he replied direct to one of my Twitpics. I believe he was already following me, but as he had started a conversation, I decided to follow him. This is quite a key decision for me if I am to follow someone, do they want to talk and discuss.

John Cook – is someone I have worked with in the past and enjoy talking to at conferences about e-learning and stuff. When I found out he was on Twitter and following me,  I chose to follow him back.

Chuggington – Chuggington is a children’s TV series about trains, I mentioned it in a tweet, as a result Chuggington started to follow me. I followed them back as they are tweeting news about the programme and I know my son would be interested in what’s new.


John KirriemuirShri Footring amongst others were often in conversation with John so he got followed just because of their recommendation.

Ron Mitchell – I usually micro-blog with Ron on Jaiku, but with the ongoing issues on there, as soon as I noticed that he was following me on Twitter I followed him back.

There are many reasons that I follow people on Twitter, why do you follow people on Twitter?

4 thoughts on “Using Twitter”

  1. I’ve not been using twitter long but I have been using the Internet socially since at least 1997 and have therefore developed skills based on experience for managing potentially overwealming social dialogue (from usenet postings and even BBS’s before that) – and as a result I’ve adopted a very similar approach as yourself. I did read somewhere that it may be seen as rude not to automatically ‘follow back’ but I could see even before I started that that would be impractical and ineffective if a social circle beyond a few dozen people developed. The other people I’ve choosen to follow have been some ‘celebs’-mostly comics, with a lot of followers to start with to see how they are adapting to and exploiting this new media, plus they give me quite a few chuckles each day 🙂

    I’ve made a concious choice to mix personal and proffesional interests and purely social contacts in twitter, something I would not usually mix-and the reason I did so was to explore the potential benefits of doing so, and I have found the synthesis of ideas from cross fertilization from those different realms does seem benefitial, so far.

    I’ve probably unfollowed about 50% of the people I have started following too when I’ve realized their tweets don’t actually fit the pattern (frequency or content) I’d expected when looking at their recent tweets.

    I’m still barely established with twitter but sensible pragmatic choices to filter information flow seem pretty much transferable skills to me – one of the reasons I think teaching kids about Twitter in schools would have a sound argument 🙂

  2. I use a similar approach for my personal account (@russelltanner) too, but I also manage a work Twitter account (@CRC_UK). For that, I only follow organisations (and their representatives) with relevance to our work, MPs and other politicians, and people who choose to follow us. We don’t automatically follow back everyone who chooses to follow us though – we want to be able to use Twitter to pick up on relevant tweets, and it can quickly become unmanageable, as we have had quite a few unrelated businesses, PR agents, obvious spammers etc. follow us.

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