Are You Using Twitter or is Twitter Using You?

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/#!/jeremyjernigan/status/109467160434327553"]

[M]y journey with Twitter has been interesting for me to reflect on. Like so many others, I held out for awhile because I didn’t want to join the group of vain people talking about what they had for lunch (like the rest of the world cared). Eventually, I saw a handful of people that were using it effectively and I got on board.

There are quite a few different “rules” when it comes to how you are supposed to manage Twitter. I’ve written before about what your Twitter usage tells me about you, but the most common is the social user. I follow you so you follow me. The end goal of this strategy is literally to amass as many Twitter followers as possible. In doing this, you’ve allowed Twitter to use you. Odds are, the people who are now “following” you are using Twitter the same way you do. Which means that neither you nor your followers are actually reading anybody’s tweets. How could you? There are even programs that people subscribe to that get them more followers by finding people to follow. If I see someone subscribed to this I automatically remove them from my list.

This strategy has even caused certain people to clear their follower list and start over, even this guy who unfollowed 131,000 people!

Instead, I recommend that you follow ONLY the people that you want to know more about. These should be leaders you admire or people whose regular thoughts about life give you something to think about. My own list of people I follow, only 63 people, is filled with pastors to comedians to friends. But I read their tweets. This also means that I don’t have the biggest Twitter follower count as I could.

Here is the choice that any Twitter user must make: is your goal of using Twitter to learn from the people you follow or to build a Twitter tower of followers? You can do either one but rarely both.

“But how would I get more Twitter followers then?”

Great question. Write interesting tweets that add value to others. It’s the same as blogging. If nobody finds your content worth reading than they aren’t going to read it, even if they are one of your thousands of followers.

If you are on Twitter, I’d encourage you to go through the list of people you are following and delete anyone who writes things that you don’t care about or who doesn’t write often at all. That also means to stop following people just so they will follow you back. The goal is to get your number as small as you can so that you are able to keep up with all of them, not playing a popularity contest. This number will be different for everyone.

Here is quick litmus test of this. This won’t be applicable for everyone, but to see how efficiently you are using Twitter, (or whether you’ve fallen prey to the social game) divide the people you follow by your followers. Mine is 63/204 = 30%. The lower this percentage the better the odds that you are selectively following people.

What’s your percentage?

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan husband, father, executive pastor, and student of truth

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