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Are You Twitter Selfish?

Posted by on Jun 12, 2009

Twitter’s really been getting a lot more attention lately. When I did the interview on Sunday, we talked a lot about Twitter, and the habits, or lack thereof, for some people who are there in some capacity.

When I wrote my post back in February on why I don’t follow some twitter people, I highlighted some thing that were bothering me about how some people were using it at the time. It never crossed my mind then that I’d have some more gripes about how some people are using it, but I do, and, thus, this post.

I’ll ask the question directly of you; are you Twitter selfish? Some of you are, and I’m not calling anyone out. There are different degrees of selfish, some that are really irritating, some that are what they are. But they will probably tie in with the link to why I won’t follow some people on Twitter.

To start with, I get lots of people following me. I think I’m up around 1,650 at this juncture, give or take a few. Last week Twitter went through and cleaned out a lot of spam accounts, which dropped a lot of people from main Twitter users; I’m not sure how much I got hit, but mine is still pretty big.

What many of those people are hoping is that I’ll follow them; heck, at some point almost everyone wants to be followed. Almost, that is. One of my wife’s friends was over here two weekends ago and asked me about it. When I went to her account, she was stunned to see that messages she wrote to her son were visible. I told her everyone who followed her could see every message she writes to everyone unless she protected her updates. Instead, she went gonzo and deleted her entire account; so be it.

Anyway, I get notification of every person who’s newly following me; most people do. I go in and check out their Twitter page. I look at the messages to see if they actually ever talk to someone. Twitter gives you the first 20 initially; I’ll go through at least 60 messages to see if that person is engaging others in some fashion. If not, I’m not following them, plain and simple. Yes, it’s possible they’re putting out stuff I might be interested in. But if I can’t drop them a quick message and know that there’s a chance they might respond to me, I’d rather not have to deal with it.

I won’t follow someone who doesn’t show they’re participating in the Twitter experience at all. I can’t figure out why any legitimate person wants to follow so many people, yet never says anything to anyone. They’ve been on Twitter two months and have only written 2 or 3 messages, or possibly have never written anything at all. Nope; I’m not following them. They may continue to follow me, but I won’t reciprocate. Thing is, if they ever did write me, which wouldn’t be part of their pattern, I’d see it, and then I’d think about it. But until then, I’m not doing it.

Of course, last time I talked about this land grab for followers and how I didn’t support it, and that’s continuing. More and more people are sending out links saying “get 100 Twitter followers a day”. What the heck are most people going to do with that many followers a day?

Now, I’m not against lots of followers. I want lots of followers also, just like I want more RSS subscribers (and if you’re not following, I hope you do; easy, just look to the top right). But I have lots of things I want to share with people, from three blogs and two business websites. I actually like to talk to people on Twitter, which I do every day. I like to share things I find, and that others find, with those who are following me but not necessarily anyone else I’m either following or who’s following me. I like to be sociable.

And, really, that’s the crux of things. Twitter is called “social media”, and it is. But sociability isn’t a one way street. It’s not supposed to be about “me”, but about “we”. And, unless you’re a news service that I know isn’t a one person operation, that’s keeping me informed about what’s going on, I expect interaction of some sort, even if it’s not always with me. If that’s not going to occur, then I can learn about you in other ways. Heck, someone else is probably going to share your link, and I’ll see it that way if I’m interested. I don’t like selfish, and I’m an only child!

And there you go. What’s this, post #35 about Twitter? I’m sure there will be many more coming; Twitter doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.

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you know what, I never understood all the hype around Twitter, never caught my eye and actually did sign up a few days ago just to see what the hype is all about …

I probably won´t stay around for long, so … yeah, selfish hahaha
.-= Mirjam´s last blog ..Start Excelerating Business Growth in Times of Crisis =-.

June 12th, 2009 | 12:24 PM

I wouldn’t say you were selfish, Mirjam, since you’re only checking it out. What you are, though, is one of the more than 94% of people who set up a Twitter account, then decided not to do anything with it. That’s a stunning number, but that’s what it is, I believe. It depends on what it is you want to do and whether Twitter gets it for you; just like every other social medium online.

June 12th, 2009 | 1:01 PM

As always, another on point blog post.
Yes, I am amazed at the people who follow a gazillion people and vice versa and Tweet every couple of weeks, if that much.

I feel blessed that I have a healthy Twitter following, but I must confess I would like to have engagement amongst my followers. You’re one of the few who will reply from time to time and I think that’s because we met elsewhere in cyberspace. LOL.

You can have a million followers, but if no one is “talking” to you or responding to you, then that’s not being in the Twitterverse, it’s akin to being in isolation.

I’m making a very concerted effort these days to make comments on people’s Twitter posts, so at least I’m doing my part to engage!

June 12th, 2009 | 11:59 AM

Thanks for your comment, Paula. Actually, I reply to anyone, regardless of whether I’ve met them before or not. If someone took the time to write me, I’ll write them back; it’s the right thing to do. Now, if I had a million followers, I might not be able to get to everyone, but at least I’d probably be rich. 😀

June 12th, 2009 | 12:14 PM

A few months ago, I did get a bit wrapped up in my projects, not checking Twitter and other social networking sites to find out what others were doing and gaining new insights.

When I realized how insulated I was becoming, I was grateful that I hadn’t been removed from Twitter followers’ lists.

Sometimes you get down in your own dirt and don’t realize what else is going on. That’s okay as long as you get back into meaningful conversations sooner than later.
.-= Shirley @ Solo Business Marketing´s last blog ..What is Your Most-Effective Marketing Product? =-.

June 12th, 2009 | 1:46 PM

You’re okay, Shirley. The thing you have is some history. You imght not get any new people with reduced activity, but your past followers probably wouldn’t be deleting you either.

June 12th, 2009 | 10:27 PM

I am not selfish on this matters at all, but people sometimes make you angry, nice post Mitch!
.-= Hesham´s last blog ..Features That Didn’t Make it into WordPress Version 2.8 =-.

June 13th, 2009 | 7:04 AM

Thanks Hesham. I don’t let people make me mad on Twitter; I just drop them and move on. Doesn’t mean there aren’t things I like, but why dwell all that much, right? Besides, it gives me things to write about. 🙂

June 13th, 2009 | 9:41 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

I agree with what you’ve said here.

At first, I just didn’t “get” Twitter. I’ve never been one to chat online and most of what I saw on Twitter was irrelevant and uninteresting.

Then, I started following the people I already knew. People who wrote interesting blogs, had interesting websites, participated in forums, and so forth.

My Twitter experience improved.

Then, people I didn’t know started following me. At first, I followed everyone back. That wasn’t such a good idea.

Some people are not only selfish, they’re pushy and rude. All they want to do is sell and promote, to the exclusion of all else. They look at Twitter as a broadcast channel, not a two-way street.

I find that just as unreasonable people who just chatter away with a constant stream of irrelevancies.

Another thing that has started to annoy me lately is seeing too many quotations. I’m a fan of success-oriented quotations and even have some pages on a website and several Squidoo lenses devoted to them.

Yet, I don’t want to see nothing but quotes from someone else all the time.

Over the months that I’ve been active on Twitter, I realize that a lot of the things I don’t like are powered by automatic systems. As we all know, anything useful can be both used and abused.

Now, when I become annoyed when reading someone’s Tweets, I go and take another look at their Twitter profile. If I see a pattern I don’t like, I unfollow them.

These days, I’m much pickier about who I’ll follow. Like you, I pay much more attention to their profile and past tweets before deciding if I’ll follow them or not.

So far, I’ve been lucky and haven’t had to block anyone.

I enjoy short quick conversations on Twitter and it can be very useful when an email would be too much. For example, you and I have used Twitter in the past to help each other solve problems with our blogs.

I’m still not what I’d call a Twitter “fan,” but it is a useful part of my communications mix.

Thanks for an excellent, thought-provoking post, Mitch.

Act on your dream!


June 13th, 2009 | 7:10 AM

Great to see your comment, John. Those constant quotes people drive me nuts, so I drop them also. And it’s not that they’re bad; heck, I pop up a quote or two every once in awhile myself, sometimes funny ones just to break things up. But I like to think I’m more than that, at least on Twitter.

June 13th, 2009 | 9:42 AM

She went gonzo? Is that like she went berserk or something? Anyway, I don’t think I am Twitter selfish so much as I am Twitter boring. I don’t really have too much to do with it. Even though I use TweetDeck, I still can’t get to grips with it.

June 13th, 2009 | 10:44 AM

Hey Sire, you’ve been MIA for awhile; glad to see you again.

Yup, she went nuts, almost in a panic. She hasn’t said anything bad or incriminating, but it just freaked her out to know that someone else could see her communications with her son. The uninitiated, eh?

As much as you like to communicate with people on blogs, it’s surprising you haven’t quite gotten into Twitter. I mean, it’s short, instantaneous, and you can leave any time you want to. Still, you have figured out how to use it for your blogging purposes, and do write someone every once in awhile.

June 13th, 2009 | 11:09 AM

Yeah, I reckon I should use it more often. It’s just another thing that I have to keep my eye on. Perhaps I should learn multi-tasking or come back in my next life as a woman.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Why You Should Upgrade To WordPress 2.8 =-.

June 14th, 2009 | 2:04 AM

Sire, come on; you’re the king of multi-tasking. You have the history to prove it. I just read one of your Twitter posts today and went to see that video of Caro, whoever she is.

June 14th, 2009 | 9:14 AM

Did you work out who she was?
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Why You Should Upgrade To WordPress 2.8 =-.

June 15th, 2009 | 2:36 AM

Nope; I mean, you were there first, so I assumed you knew her.

June 15th, 2009 | 2:49 AM

Nope, I just fell across the site somehow and like what I saw. Thought I should share it.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..FlexSqueeze And The Total Screen Recorder =-.

June 15th, 2009 | 3:25 AM

It was nice; funny you didn’t remember mentioning it on Twitter.

June 15th, 2009 | 8:55 AM

Maybe old age is creeping up on me Mitch.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Tools To Help You Get Into The Top Ten Rankings Of Google =-.

June 15th, 2009 | 9:09 AM

I don’t consider myself Twitter selfish… I generally reply to anyone who asks me a direct question (through the DM’s or replies). Plus I don’t just send out my stuff… I’ll share a lot of articles that I think are good while I’m reading them. I don’t do much in the way of personal conversation though, which I want to start doing more of in the future.

~ Kristi
.-= Kikolani´s last blog ..Fetching Friday – Resources, #FollowFriday, Guest Post Opportunities, & New Moon Trailer =-.

June 13th, 2009 | 4:20 PM

Well, you don’t respond to me all that often on Twitter, but I figure with all those other guys hitting on you, and you know me, along with Sire, that you’ll talk to us through our blogs. 🙂

And you have so many people writing about you; just read the article today on top 10 bloggers people don’t know (of course, the guy has to write the other five still). Very nice indeed.

June 13th, 2009 | 4:41 PM
Toan Nguyen Minh:

Great point. I generally send some link on Twitter to driving traffic to my blog.
.-= Toan Nguyen Minh´s last blog ..Did You Change Your Profile URL At FaceBook =-.

June 14th, 2009 | 1:18 AM

I’ve seen your posts on Twitter, Toan. Every once in awhile, say something to someone; doesn’t have to be me. 🙂

June 14th, 2009 | 9:13 AM
Deneil Merritt:

Another great post. I would say I am twitter selfish. I retweet people messages, talk to people (even random people that’s not following me), and I often join in on the trending topics.

Twitter is really fun and maybe I should stay off it some much. Time flys when you having fun.
.-= Deneil Merritt´s last blog ..Believe In What You Do =-.

June 14th, 2009 | 7:55 AM

Actually Deneil, that’s not selfish at all. You actively engage people, and that’s what it’s all about. You’re not there only promoting stuff; I like that.

June 14th, 2009 | 9:16 AM
Deneil Merritt:

Yeah, its a lot of fun replying to random people. Great way to make new friends.
.-= Deneil Merritt´s last blog ..L.A. Lakers Won 2009 NBA Finals =-.

June 15th, 2009 | 1:14 PM

Are we following each other on Twitter, Deneil?

June 15th, 2009 | 6:06 PM
Deneil Merritt:

I know I am following you. I think you following me too.
.-= Deneil Merritt´s last blog ..L.A. Lakers Won 2009 NBA Finals =-.

June 16th, 2009 | 2:54 AM

The day I signed up with Twitter, I made it a point to not always talk about ‘what am I doing now’. That can result it terrible spam, I strongly believe. As for the followers, I follow only those of my followers who talk about much the same thing as I do. I guess, I am not being selfish here 😆
.-= Ajith Edassery´s last blog ..Advantages of Blogging =-.

June 15th, 2009 | 5:05 AM

That’s a fair way to be, Ajith. Then again, you follow me, so I must drive you nuts sometimes. lol

June 15th, 2009 | 8:55 AM

im new to twitter and i was wondering how do you look and see if people commented on something you put
.-= Machinery´s last blog ..Mechanism at its best……..! =-.

July 14th, 2009 | 1:47 PM

The only way to know if people comment on what you do is if they retweet or write you back. If you’re accessing everything online, there are some tabs you can check, but it’s much easier to use a program like TweetDeck, which has columns where you can follow everything easily.

July 14th, 2009 | 4:01 PM

Love your posts. Re: Selfish Twitters…maybe new users exercise caution out of concern for i.d. theft, or posting views or info that employers might not condone. Perhaps they are novices like myself who are just beginning to unravel the immense possibilities of social marketing. Also the learning curve in becoming a better Twitterer takes time. Anyway, some of us really appreciate your diligence and getting the messages out. Don’t give up on us too soon! Thank you again and again for providing interesting and relevant comments and opportunities for critical thinking!

July 17th, 2009 | 1:58 PM

Thanks Bettison. There may be a need for concern for some people, but then why sign up for the service in the first place? Social media is like anything else in life; if you’re going to do it, enjoy it and be free, but if you don’t think you can handle it, then don’t do it. Kind of like some people who can’t handle liquor, so they shouldn’t drink in the first place. Still, there are some lessons new users can learn, which is why I often share this particular post and another of my posts, which you might also see on Twitter every once in awhile, including today.

July 17th, 2009 | 10:21 PM