Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's The Ratio?

Followers vs. Following is now the (not-so) age old question. As a novice to the twitterverse, I still have less than a hundred of either; but I routinely see Tweeters (I'm pretty sure the plural would be Twits, but I don't want to offend anyone unnecessarily) with thousands of both. I mentioned to my teenage daughters that I was now past fifty followers, which didn't impress them in the least, but did prompt my youngest to ask how many people I was following. Not sure what she was getting at, I told her it was around ninety, and she gave me one of those smug teenage looks indicating that I was about to receive a piece of invaluable knowledge. "Only people that are desperate follow a lot more people that are following them." A final eye-roll told me just how old I really was, and she was off.

But it made me think about Twitter in general, and more specifically, how I was trying to utilize it. I freely admit, as one of my earlier posts indicated, I didn't just jump onto Twitter (or this blog, for that matter) out of a desire to suddenly garner a few thousand new friends. I am going to be publishing a book in the summer, and my research led me to believe that social media was a vital component in that endeavor. So I'm blogging and tweeting more than the above-mentioned daughter with her One Direction obsession. (Don't get me started on the hidden evils of boy-bands!)

But now I'm on Twitter, and as I considered my daughter's words, I think she had a point, but not the way she meant it. I don't think it's so much a statement of desperation if your followers severely lag behind those you are following, because of the nature of conversation. Twitter is nothing more than a HUGE expansion of conversations between individuals. You can talk one on one, or you can jump into a conversation with literally hundreds of people. But in any conversation, someone has to initiate it, and that is what happens when you follow someone that hasn't followed you yet. You are reaching into the ether and inviting them to your conversations. And at least in my case, I only follow those that appear to have similar interests to mine. There really isn't much sense in me following someone that is a cheese connoisseur, when I can't tell a Cheddar from a Gouda.

However, the caveat is that if you follow someone, and they don't follow you back after a period of days, or a week, I think you should unfollow them at that point. They many not have followed you because they have so many followers already they have stopped automatically following back. They may be like me, and only follow those that seem to share their interests. But for whatever reason, that person has indicated they aren't really interested in a two-way conversation. It's not a fault or a problem, just the way conversations work, or don't work in this case.

So what's the ratio? Well, that's up to each person and what they're looking for from social media. In my case, I'll probably shoot for a one-to-one ratio in the interest of promoting actual dialogue. Call me old-fashioned that way.

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