How do you decide whether or not to follow someone on Twitter?
Everyone has their own “attention bandwidth” that they can devote to Twitter and other social-networking platforms like Facebook, Identi.ca, Plurk, Pownce, etc. Some people can follow thousands and not bat an eye; others cap their following count at a firm number and have an “add one, remove one” rule.
Here are my own personal heuristics for deciding whether or not to follow someone:
- Do I feel overwhelmed right now? If not, I’ll probably follow.
- Have they followed me? Unless they get dinged for some other reason below, I’m likely to follow back.
- Are they spammers? Dinged without remorse.
- Do they use a recognizably “real” name, or something like CrazyHippo45? The more real the name, the more likely I am to follow back.
- Do they use a real photo in their avatar? If not, I’m less likely to follow.
- Do they tweet consistently? If they have big gaps in their tweetstream I’m not likely to follow.
- Do they have a reasonable followed/following ratio? I don’t personally care too much about absolute numbers, but if they follow 2,000 people, and only have 20 followers, something smells.
- Do they post about topics I’m interested in, or topics I’m not interested in?
- Do they have frequent tweetorrhea (e.g. posting 40 times in any single hour): probably won’t follow.
- Are they following or followed by people I’m following or followed by? +1.
- Can they spell? You’d be surprised how important this is to me.
What are your personal rules for deciding whom to follow on Twitter?