Jack Yan
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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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21.02.2010

The 10 types of Twitter account I am unlikely to follow back

I’m getting fussier about whom I follow back these days on Twitter, and have noticed myself removing some people I followed.
   Initially, my rule on Twitter was to follow back only people I knew in the real world. Eventually, I opened that up and even went back among the following to include people I met online. Then, I chose people to follow based on whether they were real or fake and have to admit that a few clever Tweeters suckered me in to following some bots (which I remove whenever they are in my Tweetstream).
   Today, I’m afraid that even being human doesn’t necessarily have me following back. I now consider the subject and whether it’s among my interests. Or I consider the location. In other words, I might have entered into a fourth phase of my time on Twitter, where I don’t expect contact with all and sundry, just those whose interests align, or live in places I am in or am likely to be in.
   Being more geographically specific with social media is exactly what Stanley Moss predicted would be a major 2010 trend at his Medinge and, later, Sorbonne–CELSA presentations. I never gave it much thought till I realized I had been doing that myself for several months.
   So as we begin the New Year, there are some rules to those I do not follow.
   1. If your Tweetstream has any quotations from famous people in it—even one—forget it. A year ago, I might have followed you if you had some engagement with people and there was the odd quotation from Mark Twain or some other luminary interspersed with your conversations. Today, if you’re still using automated quotation programs, then I’m no longer interested. It seems either lazy or passé, sorry.
   2. While Shelly Ryan, the spammer, has gone, anyone having as their first Tweet an invitation to their profile and hinting it could be adult will get a block from me.
   3. If the whole Tweetstream looks like a Twitter edition of my spam filter trash folder, you’re outta here. The teeth-whitening Tweet remains a dead giveaway. Also: anyone who repeats promotional Tweets can forget about getting me to follow back. And yes, I do scroll down the entire first page.
   4. There’s a grey area with any type of automated Tweet outnumbering manually written ones. I have followed some car magazine ones when they are automated, but I am not following back a Tweetstream about, say, Facebook, or a whole bunch of advice, no matter how well meaning it is. If I wanted to read self-help stuff, that is better coming from a book than in Tweet form.
   5. A huge disparity between those followed and the number following back. If you have followed 1,200 people and you have about three follow-backs, then that screams, ‘Spammer,’ to me. In borderline cases, I will see who you are following. If your list is filled with people who all seem to have the same name, then I will know you are a bot, and I will send a block request to Twitter. (Some of these bots will find humans to follow by using spidering techniques—sometimes it is obvious, and they will get a block, too.)
   6. Anyone who has more API-delivered Tweets than real ones will be far more likely to be ignored than they were in the past.
   7. Anyone whose Tweetstreams are made of re-Tweets nearly exclusively.
   8. Anyone who has plugged into a single site and is feeding their headlines out, using that method to make up their entire Twitter account. I have seen two that just take headlines from ReadWriteWeb and link to their articles. Duh, why don’t I just follow ReadWriteWeb directly? (Similarly, those who have taken a Google News feed are unlikely to get my attention.)
   9. Companies who I know have misbehaved, and this is usually personal. (I can think of one that has had a preemptive block from yours truly.)
   10. People whom I know are dicks in real life. (Fortunately, none have come knocking on my Twitter account, probably because they think I’m a dick.)
   Some of my choices sound harsh, and I don’t profess to following the above 100 per cent of the time. Very occasionally, I might see a friend who has started Tweeting, who has, in the few hours after setting up his account, filled it up with people he knew. Obviously, the following–follower disparity would not apply.
   Nor do I claim that I am more right than anyone else. Given there’s no right and wrong with how you follow back in Twitter, let’s just say, ‘It just is,’ rather than put a judgement on to it. It is each person’s decision on how they use the service and whom they’d like to follow.

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Filed under: business, culture, internet, marketing, technology—Jack Yan @ 08.29

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