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Posted by on Jan 21, 2012 in Social Era, Social Media, Social You, Weekend Post | 164 comments

Ted’s Twitter Follow-Back Policy

I’m going to share the policy I’ve been following since my first Tweet in April 2009. It works well for me. You can adopt this policy for yourself or not, as you wish.

Ready? It’s really straightforward.

I follow everyone back on Twitter. (Just about).

There, that’s my policy. Here’s why:

  1. For whatever odd reason, Twitter limits how many people a person follows. If you follow a bunch of “celebrities” and news outlets that don’t follow you back, you’ll hit a wall at 2,000 where you find you can’t follow anyone else. And even if your follow-followee ratio is close enough that Twitter lets you slip past this stupid, arbitrary wall of 2,000, you still have to stay within a close ratio to continue following more people. So any time you don’t follow someone back, you’re limiting who else they can follow. That’s not nice. Be nice.
  2. The friend who introduced me to Twitter explained that automatically following back is the ethic of the medium. It’s what you do, he said. A lot of us still act that way, and so this rule has served me well in making some really cool friends and acquaintances along the way.
  3. In this way, Twitter is pretty much the opposite of Facebook and LinkedIn, where everyone’s always asking, “Do I know you?” This open, “We’re all friends here” culture really works for me. I’m friendly in real life – I’m like a Labrador Retriever – and Twitter lets me be friendly online as well.
  4. Much more importantly (to me), here’s why I follow everyone back: I’m not more important than my followers. Indeed, I’m grateful every single time a person compliments me by following me. It’s their way of saying, “Hi Ted! I want to get to know you better.” For me to snub their kindness would be ungracious – and if I were ungracious, I couldn’t look my Mother in the eye. [I'm on a lifelong crusade against arrogance. We'll leave it at that.]
  5. On that last point, following back is consistent with my status as a customer service author and leader. How on earth can I tell people to provide Five-Star Customer Service, which is based entirely on manners, when I am impolite myself? So for me, it’s an easy decision.
  6. I know some of you will find these to be strong words, especially that last part. Let me repeat: this is MY follow-back policy. These are my reasons. You may have perfectly legitimate reasons for not observing my practices, and I’m sure they work for you.

Now, it’s time for the caveats:

  1. When I follow a new person, I typically give them a week, maybe two, to follow me back. If they don’t choose to, that’s perfectly fine. But at that point I unfollow them. I literally do not follow a single human who does not follow me as well – at least not for more than a week. No one is that important to me.
  2. I use a client (Hootsuite) to manage my Twitter stream. I basically ignore my “All Friends” feed. Instead I set up columns on Hootsuite that search for key words, hashtags I enjoy, or for lists of special people – my core friends. I recommend you try something similar. (Note: on my iPhone I’ve switched to echo phone. Neither is perfect for the phone. Oh, well).
  3. I regularly check in with Tweepi to manage my list, and to find new people to follow who share my interests, which are mostly business, leadership, social media, and customer service.
  4. Tweepi is great. It lets me find and follow people with similar interests. You can see when they last tweeted, so you can only follow active Tweeters. You can unfollow accounts that are clearly spambots or that have become inactive. Poke around the site. There’s a lot to learn.
  5. One last thing: do I follow wack-jobs, which to me includes some members of fringe political and/or religious groups that offend me? Hmn. I’m always wrestling with this, but typically yes. I figure engagement is a great way to find common ground with those whose views are different from mine. Often, even if their beliefs in one area make me squirm, in many other respects we find all sorts of common ground. If they really, truly alienate me with their tweets, then yes, they’re out. That’s pretty rare, though.
  6. …And I unfollow spammers with impunity. Glee, even. There seem to be more and more every week, and they all suck.
Okay, that’s my short (*ehem*) write-up of my follow-back policy for Twitter. I’m really interested in your comments. I know this one in particular is not universally agreed upon. Let me have it, if you feel so inclined. My favorite thing about Social Media in general is that I’m always learning.
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If you HATE my policy, this post is for you: My Most-Asked Twitter Question, Answered.

You’ll also find this worth reading, if just for the great comments: It’s Time to Kill #FF Dead!

This post first appeared on my previous blog. It’s the most popular (and unpopular) post I’ve ever written, hands-down. If I were half as commercially savvy as I should be, I’d focus strictly on social media and give leadership and culture a rest. Again I say, Oh well. I don’t write for the quick hit, I guess.

Explore the rest of Switch and Shift. Welcome to the home of The Human Side of Business!

Photo courtesy of  eldh
 

Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné is co-founder/CEO of http://switchandshift.com, where he is host of Switch and Shift TV, weekly interviews with extraordinary thinkers focusing on the human side of business. One of the most influential business experts on the Web, Ted has been top-ranked by Forbes and Huffington Post for his leadership and social media influence. An inspirational speaker and author, his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive will hit bookstores August, 2014. Ted consults with owners, CEOs and boards of directors on modern corporate strategy. He and his family live in Naples, Florida, where Ted is active in the local tech startup community.

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  • Amy Wells

    Thank you for this information. I was clueless to much of it and it raised a few wuestions for me. How do I know who isn’t following back?

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Hi Amy – so glad this was helpful (it’s why I wrote it!) There’s a section on Tweepi.com for just this question. Give it a look and let us know what you think.

  • ScottAWoodard

    Ted…Interesting post. I have a rather different approach to following folks on Twitter. I follow people because I believe they say something of interest that is important to me. If I follow the links in their tweets, I, usually, get something of significance from them. And, I’ll often retweet their posts.

    I do not follow everyone who follows me. I will look at the profile of those who do follow me, but I don’t automatically follow them. Nor do I track who is following me. My goal, on Twitter, is to learn something new and pass it along. If I’m not learning from someone, I don’t follow them.

    This may be a rather unsophisticated approach to Twitter. But I’ve found that I can be easily overwhelmed by all the incoming information. I’ve also found that there can be a lot of self serving people who are looking to boost their “numbers.” I’ve found it easy to be captive to a lot of the noise on the platform without extracting the value.

    Just one man’s opinion…

    Cheers,
    Scott

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Scott, you know what? I can’t take exception to a single thing you wrote. Not how I do things (as by now you’re well aware), but it sounds like this is working for you – and I know for many others as well.

      To bolster your point, there’s this whole “Team Follow Back” thing I’ve noticed that kinda bugs me. If all you’re doing on Twitter is following and following back, without conversation or sharing interesting content… uh, good for you. I don’t get it. Those folks aren’t spammers, I guess, but I don’t pay them much heed.

    • http://Website Ginia

      I really like what you wrote Scott. That is exactly how I feel about twitter and I’ve struggled with the follow back concept. For a time I opted to go against my better judgement and just automatically follow back everyone. My feed got so cluttered that I lost all interest in twitter, it was just too much nonsense and finding the ‘gems’ of information was nearly impossible. I’ve recently returned to twitter and am again facing this same dilemma, quality vs. quantity.

      I’m not one who wants to get deeply involved enough in social media to learn and use applications like tweetdeck but I also don’t want to offend followers by not auto following back. It astounds me when I see people who are following hundreds or even thousands and all I can think is, what can they possibly be getting out of this, surely they aren’t reading more than a small fraction of the tweets that are coming in. And if I have followers like this, and right now that’s pretty much all of my followers, it’s very likely they aren’t seeing my tweets either and on a certain level, that’s a bit offensive to me. Why follow me if you’re not interested in my tweets?

      I keep thinking I’m missing something here that other twitter users have got figured out. So I’m still trying to develop my own follow back policy and your comment in addition to Ted’s article here is helping a lot. Btw, Ted followed me this morning and after reading his very well thought out article I will definitely be following him back and look forward to reading his tweets. Thank you. @Ginia777

      • Kathy Olsen

        I am so glad you published this policy, and I, like Scott, don’t automatically follow back, because I, like Gina, lost interest in Twitter for a while because the content was so ‘spammy’. So now I will follow back if after reading a few tweets I think someone has something to say. And to those who constantly end every tweet with a link to what they are selling, I will be unfollowing them in early 2013. Time is just too precious! @katholsen

  • LinkAssistant

    I’m not more important than my followers.- so powerful! On my personal twitter account (@tanyamctavish) I am a sponge mostly because I am new to Twitter and for the most part my followers are my mentors. With the speed that I am adding followers right now I will soon reach 2000 limit. I guess I should get more selective in order not to hit the 2K ceiling (esp considering that I follow back mostly everyone who follows me)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Following back will not hurt your 2,000 limit at all. You want to keep your ratio of following:followers very tight as you cross that arbitrary threshold. As you get more and more followers, that limit loosens up, for whatever bewildering reason.

      I agree about the mentors. It’s disappointing to me, though, that some of my earliest mentors decided to mass-unfollow a few months back. It was a fad I noticed that hopefully is over. If you’re Lady Gaga with a million followers and only a few people you follow, that’s one thing. If you’re some dude who is famous within the realm of Social because you behaved one way, and now you no longer play by your own early rules…? Don’t get me started. life’s too short to worry about knuckleheads.

      • http://comeletusreasontogether.com Thomas Sewell

        Thanks for the article.

        As you get more and more followers, that limit loosens up, for whatever bewildering reason.

        After the 2K limit, twitter limits you to being able to follow only 10% more than the number of people following you.
        So at 3,000, you can follow 3,300, at 10,000 you can follow 11,000, etc…
        It’s a straight percentage, so as you get more followers, it causes that “loosen up” feeling you’re describing. After 10,000, you’re more likely to hit the “can’t follow more than 1,000 people a day” limit before the follow/follower ratio limit. At that point, trying to only follow people to keep up on one day a week may run into the limit if your followers are increasing even more quickly.

  • danielle6849

    I agree! I always follow back, though there are a few “funny” people I follow just because they make me laugh. They do not follow me back. I’ll go one step farther, if I’m thinking of following someone, I’ll check their profile. If they are only following 50 people, and they are being followed by many more, I figure they are too important for me. Either that, or they just don’t get Twitter. If there is a disparity, but it is negligible, I’ll still follow. Similarly, if there is a great source, i.e. Mashable, etc. I’ll follow without a follow-back.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Great points, Danielle. I’ll follow some funny or interesting Twitter accounts for a few weeks, too, but after that I figure if I really want their stuff, I’ll go seek it out. Again, that’s just how I operate.

    • http://XeeMe.com/karlehav Elisabeth Karlehav

      “If they are only following 50 people, and they are being followed by many more, I figure they are too important for me.” Haha :) Loved your comment! x E

  • http://www.thindifference.com/ ThinDifference

    Just want to say “thank you” for a great policy, Ted. I read your policy on Quora several months ago, and I bought in to it. It is practical and engaging, as Twitter should be. I appreciate your willingness to share it and help others. Jon

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Thanks so much, Jon! A comment like this, from someone I respect such as you, will keep me going for a week at least! This is why I write: to be of service ;)

  • ken_garman

    Ted,

    Awesome post! This is my strategy as well, for mostly the same reasons. As a leader I believe that good leadership requires love, understanding, and empathy. It also involves listening and learning, knowing that none of us has all the answers. If I want my followers to learn to lead, I must set the example and be open to learning from them as well.

    There are two areas where I usually vary from your method.

    1. is how long I wait for them to follow back. Mostly I’ll give them 2 to 3 weeks, longer if they followers/are followed by more people than I am. With the slightly less than 3,000 people I follow, I may not understand the difficulty of managing an account that size.

    2. I don’t even attempt to follow anyone who appears to not follow anyone back, or only follow their offline friends. For instance, if they have 800 followers but are only following 50 I will not follow them in the first place unless they initiate the connection.

    Again, great post!

    Ken Garman

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Ken, great remarks! In the realm of leadership, you’re onto something powerful: if you want to breed more leaders, let your people lead you much of the time! That is an example that cannot be duplicated through any means other than by example. Bravo.

      I find myself doing what you recommend. Lately (the past several months at least), I’ve been giving people closer to a month. I wince every time I unfollow someone, so if I put it off till tomorrow or next Monday, I subconsciously think, well, maybe they’ll get around to following me back. For your point number two? I’m with you. Why bother following someone if you know they’re going to snub you out of hand?*

      *I know, I know, there are reasons some folks follow news outlets or “celebrities,” I know, I know! Just not my thing.

  • BruceSallan1

    Will you please organize my tweets and followers, Ted? lol…

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Sorry amigo, you’re on your own.

  • DailyDimmick

    This is great info. Thanks Ted

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      I live to serve ;)

  • facilserfeliz

    Ted,

    I absolutely agree when you said: “My favorite thing about Social Media in general is that I’m always learning”, and another great thing in social media is that you is always teaching as well! So, you just teach me another thing and I will teach someone else!

    Thank you!! :)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      In all seriousness, that is one of the best aspects of all! Find me a teacher who himself is done learning, I’ll show you a teacher who’s lost his edge.

  • philip1

    I’ll follow people who don’t follow me back if their tweets, inspire, motivate and encourage me. I don’t need their follow to make me happy. I do not follow people who tweet nothing but advertisements for their business and offer me no value, my time is valuable and I would rather have just a few good tweets to read than to have to sift through thousands of junky ones to find the people who care about giving more than taking.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      You know, that second part especially is irrefutable. I just this moment finished writing about broadcasters. That’s not a savvy way to use social media, short and simple.

  • vikramadhiman

    My Twitter Follow Back policy:

    # I follow people if I find their tweets interesting.

    # I do not follow people following me, if I think they are bots or just following me for me to follow them and broadcast their message without me being involved

    # And my TL is my main feed

    Here is what is @wiziqcourses [Online courses on WizIQ] policy is:

    # We follow everyone back

    # We also follow interesting people whom we learn from about online education even if they don’t follow us

    # We follow anyone tweeting about us automatically :)

    -Vik

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Vik, if it works for you, how can I criticize?

      I’ve heard from countless people whose timeline is their main feed, as yours is. I recommend against that, as you’ve just read, but if that’s what you choose then yeah, you have to be really careful who you choose to allow in there.

      I actually had trouble with this a long, long time ago – before finding clients like TweetDeck – because my TL was filled by the same couple of people again and again and again – very interesting, which is why I followed them in the first place, but also prolific. Indeed, the way I tweet is often to hop on for 5 minutes, replying and remarking five or ten times, then hop off for another couple of hours. I’ve noticed in these cases that my first tweet may get some attention, but by number four or five, fewer people tune in to what I’m saying.

      I’m writing you a book. Sorry. To summarize: timelines are fine for beginners, but you can do better for yourself.

      Final note: “broadcast” and “social” are mutually exclusive. I applaud you for rejecting broadcasters!

  • http://geekymummy.com/ Liz Christopher

    Hi Ted,

    Very interesting read on your follow back policy, however I am sure I am in the minority when I say I just don’t understand the “follow me I follow back” policy.

    I understand the politeness of it (after all I am British) but why would anyone want to build a large list of followers where their stream becomes unmanageable, resulting in having to build a subset of those followers which are the ones they actually engage with?

    My policy has always been that I want people to follow me because they they think I produce useful content, and if I don’t then I prefer they don’t follow me.

    On the opposite side of the coin, There are a number of people I follow who don’t follow me back, yet i continue to follow them because their content is interesting and I believe it provides value to my followers through RT’s.

    I really would like to understand as maybe I am missing the point or is just a preference thing?

    However, I truly am thankful for those whom have chosen to follow me and everyday I am inspired by those I follow which in turn hopefully inspires my followers. Which is something I think we do agree on ;-)

    Think I need to give this some more thought….

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Hi Liz,

      Perhaps the most compelling reason I’ve found for my fairly stringent follow-all-back policy is my very first point, about the 2,000 person limit. It’s like the rule of the commons, where everyone in the village only gets one sheep to graze in the town common. If people stopped following back en masse, Twitter would stop to function, which is to say that it would go from an open medium to a closed one like Facebook or LinkedIn. I for one would stop using Twitter if I could only learn from the same small number of people again and again. I love the diversity of thought and experience my large network provides.

      • Cindy

        How long do you wait to see if the person follows you back?, speaking of the #teamfollowback people, do you ever follow them if they follow you? I’m wanting to get legitimate follows so then when I “RE” tweet for the profiles I’m passionate about, I.e. #childhoodcancer #veteranissues, I just don’t have followers in numbers only, I have “real” people. I keep your blog handy to see any other twitter secrets you have!! Thank you in advance….if y’all even see this since I noticed responses were from a year ago☺☺
        Cindy

  • JBTWEETNOTHINGS

    Before I will follow someone back, I like to check on how they may have stumbled upon me. If they follow someone already among my followers, I usually follow back immediately. If they found me due to some keyword in one of my posts, I’ll view a few of their tweets just to see if we truly like the same things. If I see a connection, followed. I don’t follow everyone who follows me nor do I take offense if I follow someone who doesn’t follow back. Everyone has his/her reasons for how they handle their Twitter account. I respect that.

    As for following someone who doesn’t follow me back, I don’t really mind. Most times that applies to sportswriters that I follow and I wouldn’t expect them to follow back. What they are tweeting is far more interesting to me than what I’m tweeting out anyway.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      JB, you bring up an important point, which I need to post about one day soon: are we important because we aren’t famous? (I’m building on that last line in your comment).

      It makes me sad when I hear people knock themselves as less significant than some celebrity because they’re just “average.” Famous does not equate to special, and many of the most fascinating friends I have are completely obscure.

      Your tweets may indeed be wholly unremarkable – many of mine are, though at over 30,000 tweets by now, I hope a few are interesting. But just because you aren’t a renown sports writer doesn’t mean you don’t know a thing or two about sports, or another topic or two. Famous doesn’t equate to special. Famous can often just mean famous. There seems to be a lot of that out there.

      To quote Angela Maiers, whom I adore: #YouMatter!

  • Pingback: Top 50 Bloggers of Influence Don't Follow Back

  • http://www.kyliefrost.com kylie frost

    New to twitter – love your policy. Great info. Thanks.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      You’re gonna love it, Kylie! Enjoy!!

  • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

    Hi Liz,

    You’re right, a large part of it is a preference thing.

    However, there’s one aspect of having a huge Twitter community at your fingertips (literally!) that I think I need to post about: the joy of the random! I do mean this, too: it’s really wonderful to see who you bump into because you’re peripherally connected (through mutual follow) and something you tweet, or they tweet, strikes up a connection that NEVER would have happened otherwise. I can’t tell you how cool this is – you have to experience it for yourself, a lot, before the full wonder really occurs to you.

    This random aspect of Twitter is augmented by your off-topic missives. Some of my most fascinating connections come when I remark on an ice cream flavor or share what quirky little thing my girls say. All of a sudden I’ll hear from a mother in Indonesia or a physicist in South Africa, people who have nothing to do with my core interests – but who are part of the glorious fabric of my social network!

    …All of which is to say, I highly recommend you follow back less selectively ;)

  • http://andrewsutton.ca Andrew

    Following back will fill your follow list with SPAMMERS. That may have been a good philosophy in the beginning but now you have to be fussy about who you follow and the content of who you follow or else you’re just watching a giant commercial in your twitter feed. I follow back if its a real person, they’re relevant to me and what I do, and/or a fan. I try not to follow brands I’m not interested in or people who tweet uninteresting things.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      This is a big tradeoff, Andrew, no doubt about it. As I stipulated, if you’re a spammer, I’ll try not to follow you in the first place, but if I let you through by mistake, I’ll unfollow – and happily so. Spammers suck.

      I notice you amended your list to include people whose tweets are uninteresting. That includes a lot more people than spammers, doesn’t it? I choose to follow folks whose topic areas are off my favorite beaten path because quite often these folks end up being really interesting, and the diversity in my network makes me smarter – and thus (I hope) more interesting.

      That again is a personal preference. But I recommend it highly. I can’t tell you how many of my favorite interlocutors are folks whose areas of interest are completely different from mine.

  • http://www.gyroconsulting.com Louis Collins

    Great suggestions..thanks. Must look in to Tweetdeck and Tweetpi, I don’t use any of these tools.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      I’m here to help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sewnshow Jayne Brown

    Hi Ted,

    Thankyou so much for the information, I’ve still got a lot to learn about twitter.

    Tweepi is brilliant. I so wish I’d known about it on Sunday before i tried to clean up manually :)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      I’ve done a lot of one-by-one work, so I can feel your pain. Tweepi takes away some of that drudgery.

  • http://wilovebooks.blogspot.com Brinda

    Thanks for sharing your follow-back policy. I am still getting the hang of Twitter and found your information to be useful.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      You (and millions more in your shoes) are exactly why I wrote this. Glad to help!

  • http://www.hankepan.wordpress.com Hankepan

    I agree – always follow back. The only people I don’t follow back are those who tweet in a language I don’t know (like Russian). I know you have translater tools, but with English not being my first language, I know how translaters can (and do) miss the essence.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      OMG, let me tell you as a former teacher of the English language, those translation tools are really, really funny and not even remotely accurate yet! Maybe down the road. No, by all means, do not make friends based on that. You’ll end up marrying your kid off to some polygamist weirdo, and you thought you were just sharing cooking tips.

  • http://www.facebook.com/original.goddess.keedah Keedah Giannetti

    GOOD info…Nice to tweetcha! (O)riginal (G)oddess KEEDAH :-)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Thanks Keedah.

  • http://wwww.gurbaxani.me Prakash Gurbaxani

    Hi Ted
    I read all 824 words of your post. Quite understand why this is your most popular post. Love your blunt approach laced with humor (labrador retriever, wackjobs, unfollow with glee). I do most of what you recommend, though I never thought of it is a policy.

    Quick question: Do you follow back guys who may be genuine, authoritative even, except that they post in Russian, Estonian, Turkish, Greek ( I’m guessing)? On the one hand I feel guilty for not reciprocating, on the other I know that we will never have anything to say to each other

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      That’s a great question. I follow a whole lot of bilingual tweeters, and I just have to trust that they aren’t saying nasty things about me in their non-English tweets (“Hey, check out this dumb gringo I got to follow me…” etc), but if their tweets are ALL in a language I don’t understand? No, I don’t. I’m absolutely certain there are many great people out there tweeting in all sorts of languages, but what is the point of following someone if you have no clue on earth what they’re saying?

      I enjoy trying to figure out Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese tweets, but I’m only so-so at that.

  • http://www.techrebels.net Raj

    Good one.. So everyone commented here, post your twitter handles please :) Lets follow each other :)

    Mine is @rajxs

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Raj, that’s a great idea! Finding people with similar or complementary interests… why else are we here?

  • http://Twitter.com/PVarga Paul Varga

    Great to Connect with you this morning Ted…

    Great Article on a point I disagree with so much..
    The main reason is because a follow should be genuine…calculated, an opportunity to fill, a need or a want. What type of relationship can you build brand or personal with that person if they’re one motive, need or want is to build their follower list? Twitter shows these people are rule, and others are the exception.. from my experience, these people aren’t going to RT you, they’re not going to interact with you. You’re a number. How does that help your experience? How does that grow your reason for tweeting?

    Building your follower & Followee through interaction is a slower but more fulfilling relationship builder…I can already tell you Ted I think it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship because we started it by interacting! Not because you followed me or because I followed you.

    Although isn’t it frustrating that Social media is such a wild west right now? I can’t help after reading your points I’m the outlaw on this one haha but sticking to my guns.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      You know, Paul, you bring up a very good point: Social is absolutely still in the Wild West stage of its development (as is the Interwebs in general, though that’s a different topic for a later date.) The good thing about that for me is, we aren’t just reporting on what we see. Rather, our reporting and commentary have the effect of changing what we’re discussing – changing how Social is done.

      For the reasons I outlined above (the karma, the Labrador thing), I’d love to protect Twitter from those who’d like to shut it down, to turn the open prairie that it is today into gated communities all around (like FB and LI). Difference of taste, I suppose.

      …I am glad we connected, though. A spirited debate is how I make most of my fiends :)

  • http://www.dutchiesgoglobal.com Erica

    I am so glad I found you! There is still so much to learn for me. Love your twitter policy. I see you also reply to everyone leaving a comment. Love that too! I’ll be back soon..

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Erica, I’m glad we found each other, too! Thank you for the kudos on my policy. I hope to see you back here on #switchandshift soon!

  • http://www.ConfluenceDigital.com Alonso Chehade

    It seems like the rule of thumb here is “just do what works for you”. My preference is to stick with the principals of How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

    One of them is to be genuinely interested in people and when I do this in Twitter it is very easy for me to follow them, mention them, and retweet and reply to their tweets.

    My recommendation is that if you want to be of real value for those on the platform that are looking to interact and build relationships, specially for the ones you’re following, you don’t want to follow everyone back.

    Related Post: http://info.confluencedigital.com/blog/bid/133485/Learning-Social-Media-Should-You-Follow-Everyone-Back-on-Twitter

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Alonso,

      Interesting. What’s your thought on my first bullet, about Twitter’s limiting your followers’ ability to follow others if you don’t follow them back?

      I guess the question to me isn’t who is more Dale Carnegie-esque than whom, but what would be a better Twitter for all: one with no walls and free exchange of ideas across the medium, or plenty of walls and plenty of restriction, development of cliques…

      I like free and open. I know not everyone is as comfortable with that as I am, though. We’ll just have to see how this plays out over the long term.

      • http://www.ConfluenceDigital.com Alonso Chehade

        Ted,

        Twitter is like a bar, you go there to meet people and usually there are lots of conversation happening around the same time.

        Usually people who have a great time in this type of venue are very social, and love interacting with people.

        ……………………………………………………………….

        ABOUT Twitter’s 2000 Follow Limit:

        ……………………………………………………………….

        This limit really only applies to users who are following at a faster rate than they are being followed.

        My analogy for someone who gets stuck in this following limit is of someone who shows up at a bar (twitter) and all is doing is looking around, see what people are wearing/doing, and maybe listening to what others are saying.

        Even if this person is semi-active in the venue, reality is, he/she is having trouble making new friends (followers).

        My recommendation for this person would be to start focusing on learning how to be interesting and interact with others to make new friends (followers) instead of trying to get into a bigger bar.

        ………………………………………………………………….

        MY CONCLUSION
        …………………………………………………………………

        The follow limit is like the host of the venue, preventing the salesy people, from ruining the night for others trying to sell their product or service. It is also a great networking coach advising you that perhap is time to learn how to be interesting and a great conversationalist ;)

  • http://dragonflyorganizingsolutions.com Wendy Goldstein

    Great policy. I am new to social media in general and very new to twitter. Reading your policy gave me some great insight to Twitter and the value of following others. I always find interesting things when I follow someone new and I am looking forward to your tweets.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Thanks Wendy – and welcome to Twitter! You’re going to love it!!

  • http://FlourSackMama.com Anne

    I respect your policy but still don’t quite understand how to navigate Twitter in a meaningful way. The courtesy of follow back makes sense, sort of… I want to follow news groups and organizations (whether I agree with them or not) to stay in the know — sort of my own little news ticker. I don’t follow them all in order to be followed back (even though that would be nice). So that takes up many of the follows I’m allowed per Twitter’s limits. I then feel awkward if because I’ve filled up my follow limit, I’m not allowed to follow back a new follower, even if I would like to.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Anne, your conundrum is a big reason why I wrote this post. You’ve got a choice to make: stop following folks (because Twitter won’t let you, as you’ve discovered), or unfollow some people and orgs that aren’t following you back.

      As you’ve read, I chose years ago to unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow me back. Twitter’s limit is one big reason why. Even news sources have to take this limit into consideration when they decide not to reciprocate their followers’ follow. They’re kind of being jerks by not reciprocating. I know not everyone will like to hear that, but that’s how I feel.

      We all are not just experiencing social media, we’re also making it through our participation. It’s the most democratic thing ever, and I for one absolutely love that! Let’s make it kind. It’s up to us all.

      :)

  • http://YummyYammy.com Lisa

    What is new for me about what you’re saying, Ted, is that you follow everyone, but that doesn’t mean you’re reading what they’re tweeting. You follow them through Twitter, but you’re choosing what to read through another app. So… I agree, that yes, that is ‘polite’. Courteous. Kind of reminds me of turning down a lunch invitation with a plausible excuse because you don’t really want to spend that much time with an acquaintance. Polite, with a protective distance.

    Until now I have always decided whether or not to follow someone based on whether I planned to read their content. You have split the tasks, so you welcome everyone to send you a letter, so to speak, but that doesn’t mean you’re gonna read all your mail.

    Interesting. Not sure yet where I stand on it.

    If there are a couple of other good reasons to use the apps you present, that approach probably makes sense. However, at this current moment, when I am actually reading tweets in twitter, it only makes sense for me to follow those whose tweets I’m going to read. Seems to me that those accompanying apps are the key to your chosen level of courtesy… agree? no?

    Thanks for a stimulating conversation!

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Lisa, I’d love to find fault with what you write, but… I guess you’re right on the money!

      Think of what this world would be like if we all said exactly what was on our minds at all times. What is that movie out not long ago, “The Invention of Lying” or something, with Ricky Germaine? It was brilliant! The thing is, people are brutally honest, and that’s not always very nice.

      * If my little girl wears a dress that makes her look like a clown, I am not about to tell her that – she’s my baby, and there’s no way I’m going to hurt her feelings.

      * When I’m having a rough day and a friend asks me how I’m doing, I’m not going to pollute their good mood by dumping my problems on them. I’m going to give my stock phrase, “I’m great! You?”

      * When someone obsessed with needlepoint and kittens does me the favor of following me on Twitter, I’m not going to ignore them, I’m going to follow them back. If they engage me in a conversation of substance, I’ll reply and maybe even add them to “The Circle,” my favorite list on Twitter, where I spend most of my time reading and RTing things from interesting folks I’ve gathered. If not, that’s fine, too.

      If you’re going to “do” Twitter with 60 or 120 or 240 followers, you certainly don’t need a client like Tweetdeck (now owned by Twitter, interestingly); you can do everything in your regular old tweet stream. However, a lot of people use Twitter to follow thousands, and that turns Twitter into this earth’s most powerful news aggregator ( – I need to post about this!) To handle that effectively, you really will need some way to sort the various conversations your followers are involved in.

      Lisa, I feel a new post coming on. Thank you for the inspiration!!!

  • http://ThinkThenLead.com Don Osborne

    Hi Ted,
    I have two questions. First, as I am new to social media in general and Twitter especially, I can’t figure out how people find each other to follow. For example, in my email this morning, there was a message that you were now following me. Thank you! How did you find me and why did you decide to follow me?
    Secondly, do you review books prior to their publication and is it way too presumptive of me to ask you to review one that I’ve written? I understand if your answer is “No.” I’m not sure I’d review someone’s manuscript that I just met. I look forward to opportunities to visit over leadership ideas.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Hi Don,

      I probably chose to follow you because you follow someone I admire; I thought we might have something in common based on this shared interest. Another reason I follow folks is that they’re recommended to me, or because a tweet or blog post catches my eye. I’m always looking for fascinating new people to follow, to expand the news-and-opinion feed that is my tweet stream.

      As for the book offer: I have to admit, I am inundated with offers such as yours right now. Just among the actual paper-and-glue books on my shelf, I have about 4 months worth of reading – I wish this were an exaggeration. So let’s do this: please watch our posts and announcements here on Switch and Shift. Shawn and I have been talking about getting someone to help us with administrative matters. It may be later in the summer or even early fall, but providing a more structured avenue for book reviews is among our top priorities.

      I know this is hard to hear, but: hang in there (?). We’ll be in better shape to help you in a little bit.

  • http://www.desk.com Alyson Button Stone

    You go, Ted! This is a thoughtful explanation. Not entirely the way I roll, but makes total sense. And, by the way, I love your War on Arrogance. Very nice post.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Thanks Alyson, you’ve brought a big smile to my face. I totally get that many people don’t roll the way I do, even many wonderful people. Pick and choose from among the ideas I’ve presented, use the ones that make sense to you, and – well, who knows, maybe the other ideas will simmer on your back burner a while and gradually a few will make more sense to you.

      Rock on!

  • http://www.creolemagnoliacafe.wordpress.com CreoleMagnolia

    Ted, You’re adorable! LOL! And I agree with you, well…mostly. I cannot follow people whose tweets are full of vulgarity, profanity and derrogatory terms. I’m a mom of 8, so I have to practice what I preach…”Keep your associations clean!”

    Looking forward to your tweets! :)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Adorable – I love it! It’s hard to tell from my typewritten words, but I’m smiling broadly. Thank you!!

      I avoid that junk as well. In privacy with Jane (my wife), sometimes we’ll swear like a couple of drunken sailors, but never in public, online, or certainly in a business setting.

      Thanks so much for chiming in!

  • http://www.richardbrashear.com Richard Brashear

    Thanks! I love this policy—mind if I use at as a framework for mine?!?! Thanks again @richardbrashear

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Richard, I wrote this for you to adopt as your own! You and anyone else who wants it, of course. I’d be honored.

  • http://expateducator.com Janet Abercrombie

    I like how you’re straight-up. I tend to only follow educators, business leaders, and folks who can help me with my up-and-coming second career in consulting. Maybe you can teach me something.

    As a former CEO, maybe you can teach me how to break into the corporate training niche. I know how people learn – and I know how to know what they know. Just need to get a couple non-school items on my resume…

    So the next question…do you have a retweet policy?

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Janet, thanks so much! As you can tell from a quick peek at my other posts throughout this site, I don’t know any other way than straight up.

      Breaking into corporate training? Reach out to HR departments throughout your area. Once you have one respected brand in your corner, use them as a reference to win the next and the next. There’s nothing easier or harder than that. It’s what I did with our language school, so I can highly recommend it. (Although if you find an easier route, please let us know!).

      A RT policy… Hmm, you’ve got me thinking. Maybe there’s a new post in that question… We run our social stuff on weekends, so stay tuned!

  • http://www.e-tellligencenews.com asoh

    Ted nice tips, I find them very useful. I have been trying to get followers back on my personal twitter account but not succeding. I presently follow about 450 tweeps, with only 92 followers. Pls wat do u advice i do?

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Hi Asoh,

      My advice:

      1. Retweet 1 or 2 tweets that interesting people are sharing. Links to good articles are especially popular. People tend to follow those who provide interesting content.

      2. When you do this, make sure you add a brief comment, like “Must read” or “interesting post.” Make sure you include the @handle of the person you’re retweeting.

      3. Go to the person’s blog and leave intelligent comments, then tweet a link to their post, with their @handle, to your followers.

      4. Give people a week to follow you, then unfollow them.

      5. Participate in tweet chats, like #custserv, #tchat, #leadershipchat – there are a zillion now, each for different interests. Find yours.

      6. Read my other posts on this topic, marked under “Social You” on this site.

      7. Keep at it. It can be slow going until folks get to know you.

      Start here. Let us know if any of this helps!

  • http://www.survey-me.co Nicola

    Ted – firstly thanks for following me back and just read your follow back policy and signed up to Tweepi and just got rid of a bunch of people that are not following my company twitter so thank you for your help. I’m learning about social media everyday, and today you have taught me something new which is much appreciated. I just hope I keep you as entertained with our tweets to keep you following us!

    I’m running our start-up businesses social media (www.survey-me.co or @Survey__Me) and learning as I go so I will watch out for your tweets with interest. We run a smartphone real-time customer feedback app which can also be used via the web. Its the first of its kind to offer insights/feedback and allow the business to reward people for giving feedback. Its really quite cool and so many uses!

    Thanks again for your help and thoughtful insights

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Hi Nicola,

      I’m glad you found this helpful! My most important social media advice: keep at it till it’s too fun to give up!

  • http://Www.makeupbymrsh.co.uk Victoria Hockley

    Hello Ted,
    I am infact only 3 weeks into using Twitter! I am finding it a very interesting experience, and I personally appreciate people such as yourself sharing such views. I have been very lucky so far as you are my 99th follower, and I shall definitely be taking your advice!
    Those who support us getting to the top should definitely not be forgotten!
    Many thanks and Kind regards,
    Victoria Hockley

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Welcome to Twitter, Victoria! You’re going to LOVE it!! Let me know when you hit 999. I’d love to hear if you still love it ;)

  • http://marriagecoach1.com John Wilder

    Seems like an enlightened policy to me. Would you be willing to review my book on marriage, sex and relationships?

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Thanks John!

      As for the review, I appreciate the offer, but I have a very long to-read list of books, and I try to stick to my bailiwick (business) for reviews. Best of luck, though!

  • http://www.hilanimade.com Hilani-Handmade by Hilani

    What a fantastic Philosophy. Straight shooter, with no grey areas! My style. Thanks for the follow. Returning the follow now.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Thanks Hilani! I hope you find it useful.

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  • http://www.lilvampgurl.wordpress.com Heather-Joan aka Serenity

    Thank you for breaking this down for me. I have been using Twitter consistently for about two and a half months and are still pretty much clueless about still how to effectively use it. What I had been using it for was for some people I had friended who are not on FB, so I had linked Twitter to my FB account and just posted stuff to Twitter and then it automatically posted to FB, basically killing two birds with one stone. And then of course I’d follow people on here who interested me, like horse-related people because I ride horses and stuff, some humor related stuff. And then it seems like in the past few weeks I had an explosion of followers, much to my surprise, which I do not know which happened, which of course pleased me. I had followed back out of courtesy. But after reading your guidelines here, I think I am going to adopt them. I have started using Tweetdeck on my desktop. I do not have a smartphone, just a cheap touch phone from Straightalk that just has a Twitter app on it. Someday, maybe a high-end smartphone *fingerscrossed*. Lotta financial stresses going on… :(( So I am still trying to educate myself to use Twitter and still have to do Google a lot of stuff. Yesterday, I had to Google #teamfollowback and figure out what that was, for example. And again, thank you for the follow and for the informative information on your site which I have spent some time pursing around on here. :)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Heather-Joan, I’m sorry about the financial stresses you’re having to endure right now. This too shall pass, as my Mom loves to remind me. Don’t worry about the phone. Whatever works. Few people experience Twitter (or any medium) in the exact same way.

      I have to guess what hashtags mean all the time. Or I’ll just ask someone who I see using one. That’s how I found #usguys, which I love. Asking that question is a great way to engage new friends!

      I’ve found that if you post as much on Facebook as you do on Twitter, some of your FB friends will not appreciate it. I don’t mind (FB bores me, though my wife lives on it), but you might.

      Thanks for reaching out!

  • http://www.biannualblogathonbash.com Kathleen

    Thanks for sharing your follow policy up front and thank you for following me (@blogathon2)

    I do not follow everyone back (although I will be following you, because you seem interesting) for some of the reasons mentioned above by others. As for putting those you follow in lists/categories so you can see who is really important to you,I hate twitter lists. I do use them and this account isn’t so bad but my @callista83 account, I followed thousands of users before knowing how to use lists and now it would be too much work to go through and categorize everyone. Also there are plenty of people who have followed me over there that I DO want to follow back but I am just really behind (like months and months behind) on doing so because I acquire new followers at such a large rate. So my ratio isn’t where I want it to be but it’s hard to find those I want to follow back.

    As for not following back meaning others can’t follow more, that’s not my problem. They are either mass following (which the following limit is designed to prevent) or they are only on twitter to claim extra entries in blog giveaways and don’t have actual content anyone would want to follow (except other sweepers)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Kathleen, thanks for finding me interesting! As for your follow-back conundrum, I wouldn’t worry too much about it unless it bothers you – in which case, you’ll be sufficiently motivated to do something about it, I have to guess.

      How does that old Outback Steakhouse slogan go? I believe it’s “No rules, just right!” I’ve shared what works for me and why. If something else works for you, then that’s awesome!!

      Thanks for visiting Switch and Shift to join the conversation. I hope we see a lot more of you, as the muse inspires you.

  • http://www.njhessassociates.com Nancy J Hess

    Ted, I read your follow back policy with interest and learned a few new things about Tweepi. First and foremost, you are a great writer and remind me of how wonderful Twitter is as a place for people to gather and share thoughts. But you raise the bar on a the essential question: what exactly is the reason I am on Twitter? While I still working that out, and am not ready to share that just yet, I do want to ask what you think about lists. I do not see much written about Twitter lists and I am wondering if is one of the underrated aspects of the Twitter experience.

    For instance, when I started using Tweepi, I too decided to not follow anyone back that does not follow me. But I decided to put them on my lists so that I could still benefit from their contributions. I learned that even though they did not follow, important interactions could still occur and result in them becoming a new follower. Most people do not know that you can have someone on a list whom you don’t follow.

    I am way down on the follow-follower ratio because I do think that if I have a follower, I have an obligation to read and interact. Realistically this happens in a small time frame during the day, but while reading my stream, I do not want to spend time scrolling through uninteresting, unhelpful posts. However, your Tweepi strategy may change this approach. Thanks again.

    Nancy

    p.s. if anyone happens to look, my website is currently under brief re-construction!

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Nancy, great question! I’m planning to write a post about my favorite list, “The Circle,” in the next couple of weeks – it’s how I turn 150,000 people into a more readable, interactably-sized community (yes, I completely just invented that word).

      Your approach is a sound one: thanks for sharing with the Switch and Shift community! I find that some people do hold a higher standard of engagement before following than I do, and I guess that works for them. That’s a little like “prove you’re worth my time” in my estimation (as in, stuck up), but who’s to say that isn’t what we all should be doing, rather than the love-everyone-Labrador I tend to be.

      I hope this post has helped you, and I look forward to your website when it comes online. Tell us when it does!

  • Diana Crosswhite

    Thanks for sharing this. I will use it.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Awesome, Diana! That’s why I wrote it.

  • http://onejohnmitchell.com John Mitchell

    Hi Ted

    You just followed me and I immediately followed back! What’s your view on Shoutouts? I have a large following (like you) and am constantly asked for Shoutouts.

    I use TweetAdder to manage my Twitter. But the issue I run into all the time is that Twitter also has a Follow limit of 1,000 per day. The time of day that it shuts off seems to be random. So, it’s hard to follow-back everyone when Twitter prevents you!

    Take care,

    John

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Hi John,

      I try to ignore meaningless communication on Twitter, so I can focus on people who actually try to engage with me in a meaningful way. If someone wants a shoutout, well… good for them. Keep it real or keep moving on, I guess is my advice on this one.

      As for the follow-back: I try to do that every Saturday. Once/week is fine. If people are impatient about that, um, they probably should learn some patience! That’s not on you, it’s on them.

      Twitter is for fun and value, not for stringent rules or fluff. At least, not in my book.

      Thanks for asking, John! I’m honored this post caught your attention. Hope to see you back here at S&S soon.

  • http://www.chronosfilmfestival.com Kimberly McMichael

    Hey Ted!
    Nice to meet you. Love this post, it almost exactly mirrors my own personal policy. I normally don’t talk about this, but I also try to be kind. Manners and kindness are the two things I try to have as I interact. I have met (online and in real life) some of the coolest people around. I think twitter is and has changed the world…. Talk more in the twitverse! @kimbamcmichael

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Kimba, I believe you’re onto something. “Twitter is and has changed the world.” I love it!

  • http://richwheeler.blogspot.com Rich Wheeler

    “4.Tweepi is great. It lets me find and follow people with similar interests. You can see when they last tweeted, so you can only follow active Tweeters.”

    Thanks for the advice about how you use Tweetdeck and Tweepi.

    I don’t tweet often. That doesn’t mean I don’t lurk, though. I just don’t tweet until I have something important to say.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Rich, everyone has his/her own style, and that’s fine. If I waited to tweet until I had something important to say, I’d be pretty quiet! You should read my stuff during a Patriots football game (LOL).

  • http://arpedio.com Jakob

    Hey Ted,

    Brilliant. Thanks for putting into writing what I’ve been practicing lately! I’m going to share this.

    And Merry Christmas in a little while… ;-)

    Cold greetings from Denmark! (minus 8 Celsius)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Jakob,

      I don’t know about brilliant; I’ll settle for “helpful” :) Thank you, though.

      I hope you get away to someplace warmer this winter! Brrrr…

  • http://www.achieverfitness.com Mariana Abeid-McDougall

    Great post, and thank you for following me on Twitter – curious as to how you found me :)

    I follow the same policy EXCEPT in one situation: I have had people follow me who post obscene content. I will not follow these people as I work with children, and having them in my list is just not OK in the working with children world. I know I can just flag the content, but really… I’d rather just not follow them. Hopefully this is an OK policy, too :)

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Mariana,

      I’m so with you! There’s a time and a place for everything, even obscenity. I try my best to keep my stuff clean because I’m writing for a business audience. Your audience is even more important for keeping it clean. Stick to your guns.

  • http://MindfulDestinations.com Jodi Geoghan

    I so love this post. I am new to Twitter, and was a bit unsure of how to handle all this follow-back stuff. Your policy is quite yogic, in fact, and therefore I love it.

    Thank you!

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Yogic: there’s a first! I love it!! Thanks Jodi. I hope this post has proven helpful.

  • http://facebook.com/JacquelinesGems Bloomagn

    The above commenter made the point I was going to make, only I do not deal with children. I will follow everyone who follows me, with the exception of those who post vulgar, pornographic, profanity laced content. I just don’t need to see that (guarding MY eye gate). Other than that, I am appreciative of anyone who follows me and certainly will return the favor. As you said, quite differant from other platforms where you keep your guard up. On Twitter, you can act like you are from the South (which I am) where everyone spoke on the street, stopping to chat at times. Thanks for the follow!

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Bloomagn, I grew up in a suburb of NYC, and spent much of my adult life in Boston. I’m a Yankee, and I don’t want to diss my people. However, I chose to go to school in the South (Virginia) for exactly the reason you state: I wanted to live among warm, friendly people for a change! And let me tell you, what a difference that was! On my first day freshman year, I was walking across campus and someone waved in my direction from across the street. I looked behind me, and no one was there – she was acknowledging me as a human being! What a delight. That, my friend, is how I choose to live my life no matter where I live, both online and off.

  • http://internetbusinesswriters.com/ BHNetworks

    Hi Ted. I am your new follower on Twitter. Pleased to meet you. Absolutely agree with what you said about not being so important that you can’t follow someone back. I also follow everyone back. However, those that need to approve their followers first, I do not follow. I just delete and move on. Nobody is that important that I need their approval to follow them. What utter arrogance!

    Several times I got the message that I had a new follower. Great! I followed them back only find they had to “approve” me first. Well, I just went back and unfollowed them.

    I will follow back anyone who follows me and with pleasure. My approval is never needed.

    Looking forward to reading your tweets.

    Barb

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Barb, I am with you 111% of the way! That type of message is one major factor inspiring me to read this post in the first place. Give me a break.

  • http://Arpedio.com Jake

    Barb, right there with you! Besides I see a lot of automatic generated THX for following comments – and they just don’t work for me. Totally impersonal and just not-very-twitter-like….

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Jake, that type of message is an unintentional form of spam in my book. I had to stop using my Direct Messages because of all the auto-generated junk I get – not just this, but “Did you see this picture of you?” and other BS people probably don’t even realize they’re sending. Bottom line? An auto-reply isn’t adding an ounce of value, and is more likely an imposition instead.

  • http://www.stuckonwealth.com Stuck on Wealth, L.L.C.

    I like it. This is the first article about tweeting that is not only polite and respectful, but helpful as well. Thank you for following me!

    Liz

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      With pleasure, Barb! Thanks for your kind words.

  • http://www.ineedamom.info Dora

    Hello Ted,
    Thank you very much for this information. This is all so very new to me. There is so much to learn

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      It’s just fun, Dora. Keep that in mind, and you’ll be an expert in no time!

  • Annetta Powell

    Hi Ted,

    Great policy here. I am writing an article about Twitter cleaning and have a good resource for reference. Keep up the good work and nice to connect with you in Twitter.

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Thanks Annetta! Send me a link when you publish? I’d love to read it.

  • http://www.jotopr.com Karla Jo

    Great data – thanks!

    • http://www.shiftandswitch.com Ted Coine

      Happy to help, Karla Jo.

  • Robbie Paixao

    I find your comments interesting and understand why you wrote it out. No misunderstanding that way. Thank you. I am still learning how to use hash tags and am not good at it.Yet.

    • http://www.switchandshift.com Ted Coine

      Robbie,

      I love how you end that: “Yet.” Practice leads to mastery. So does asking, “What does this hashtag mean?” when you find one that baffles you. I still do that at least once a week. It’s often a good way to make a new friend (through conversation in something they’re passionate about).

      Keep it up!

  • jafroemming77@yahoo.com

    Great explanation…thank you…I didn’t know about the limits placed on you by ‘not following’ :-)

    • http://www.switchandshift.com Ted Coine

      So glad to help! Few people do. That’s why I wrote the piece: part philosophy, part practical advice. I’ve found one is never any use without the other.

  • http://www.TheRabbitWay.com Bruno Coelho

    Hi Ted!

    I just got followed by you and because your bio captured my interest I followed you back and I’m looking forward to learn from your tweets!

    I just have one question about your follow back policy to make sure I got your point right:

    Although you believe that following someone back is “the polite thing to do” you also ” basically ignore my “All Friends” feed”.

    This means that while you’re following me, if I don’t tweet the special keywords that you’re looking for OR if I’m not on your core friend list, you’ll basically never see me, right?

    So my question is: why bother to look polite by following someone back if you’re not interested to know what they have to say? Isn’t their bio and their last tweets enough information for you to decide if their worth to follow back?

    I don’t have a policy but I do have a strategy: if your bio and your last tweets are aligned with what I want to learn or become, I will follow you. If your my customer, I will follow you. If your my competition, I will follow you! If you challenge me, I will follow you. If you support me, I will follow you.

    Basically, if you help me grow and become a better version of my self, I will follow you. Not because that’s the polite thing to do, but because that’s who I am.

    I’m looking forward for your thoughts on this!

    • http://TheRabbitWay.com Bruno Coelho

      P.S: Can’t believe that I mixed “you’re” with “your” when I was presenting my strategy…

    • http://www.switchandshift.com Ted Coine

      Note to readers: Bruno and I had a lengthy discussion on this, on his blog and online. At some point, I’ll address his major points in a follow-up post to this one.

      At some point. I can’t tell you how many blog posts I have on my “to-write” list. You can weigh it in pounds!!

      • http://TheRabbitWay.com Bruno Coelho

        True!

        Ted was super kind and we had an interesting conversation about each others points of view.

        Looking forward to read that post!

  • http://www.thenoisecut.com Danielle Garofalo

    Hi Ted,

    What a great post! My method has been a little different than yours, although I can’t disagree with anything that you wrote.

    Whenever I get a new follower, I will interact with them as soon as I know they’re following. I’ll comment on a tweet or just reach out and say hello. If they don’t engage me back within the next few days, I delete them.

    I look at Twitter as a way to network and get to know people who I may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet in person. I’m not interested in following if the person cannot take two seconds to say hello and is just following because they want to pad their numbers with a follow back. It’s never been about the quantity of followers for me, it’s about the quality of what we can offer one another by connecting.

    After all this time- I joined Twitter late 2008- I’m still amazed by how many people just don’t get it and don’t answer back.

    I think I follow you on Twitter, but if not I’ll find you and follow you today. I really enjoyed your post!

    @TheNoisecut
    @Garofalooo

    • http://www.switchandshift.com Ted Coine

      Danielle, This is a completely valid practice. Thank you for sharing it with the other community members of Switch and Shift!

  • http://www.happiness1st.com Jeanine Broderick

    Thank you for a message that resonates deeply with me.

    I, too, have struggled with following people who follow me who have stances I don’t want to be associated with so there have been a few I chose not to follow. I totally agree with your perspective about engagement being the way to find common ground.

    I see a common ground with everyone when we dig down through the top layers and get to the core of who we all are. I am working on a White Paper that speaks about this and how it can pave the way to peaceful relationships of all types – including world.

    Do you ever feel your own message is distorted by association? I’ll give this some more thought. I may have been treating who I follow more like I would on Linkedin.

    Thank you for stating your policy so clearly. It is refreshing.

    ♡ Jeanine

    • http://www.switchandshift.com Ted Coine

      Hi Jeanine,

      A very well-thought-out question. What I find on Twitter is that people don’t judge each other by who follows whom – it’s too much of a free-for-all. Back to my Labrador remark, Twitter is like a big pen full of puppies, all jumping all over each other, eagerly exploring and playing all day long.

      I take my open Twitter values to LinkedIn and Facebook, which must make me look like a wacko to purists there, but hey, that’s how I do it.

      As for Twitter, I’ve found that, with a large following, no one judges me on who is following me. You’ll find that too as you go.

      (I am grateful for one comment I often receive, though: “I checked your followers, and they’re actual real people! It’s clear you didn’t buy them from one of those $10 for 25,000 follower scams you see advertised all over the web.” Yes indeed. And doing that takes time and persistence – and an engaging message. Welcome to Switch and Shift!)

  • Linda Long

    Hi Ted,

    Nice to meet you. I am a newbie and have really no idea what I’m doing! Your post was very helpful and has given me a little more confidence in joining in. Thank you! Oh also, I don’t understand the whole hashtag thing. Is there a post or Blog I can read on that? I’m 50+ and pretty much clueless but, I’m still dipping my toe in the water! I’m just afraid of Sharks!
    Cheers,
    Linda

    • http://www.switchandshift.com Ted Coine

      Hi Linda,

      I don’t know of a post about that – I should probably write one. Thanks for the great idea! All I know is this: asking what a hashtag means is a great way to make a new friend. Just dive in there and do it!!

      There are very few sharks in Twitterland. At least, not that I’ve noticed. This is all fun, no pressure. ENJOY!!!

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  • http://theblondpond.wordpress.com Alessia

    Interesting how we have a different perspective on the arrogance part. I do feel uncomfortable being followed by people I don’t want to engage with, and I’m usually very friendly so engage with many people. However following back for niceness and not real interest still feels like feeling more important than them to me.

    • http://twitter.com/tedcoine Ted Coine

      Alessia,

      I have just finished a post which, I hope, addresses exactly what you ask here. We’ll see if you like it or not (it’ll be live in the next couple of days, depending on our editorial schedule). Regardless, please know this: I really do just plain love meeting new people, of all stripes and background. If someone doesn’t want to be my friendly acquaintance, I absolutely respect that. If they think I’m insecure, arrogant, or a jerk… well, that hurts my feelings, if just a little. Ask my Mom. I’m a very nice guy :)

      PS I have a confession to make: I enjoy differing opinions more than I do down-the-line agreement. It helps me stretch and grow. So thank you for your challenging perspective.

  • http://www.about.me/fredena.moore fredena

    Thanks, this is very helpful information, Ted!

  • http://twitter.com/AgileWisdomFeed Agile Wisdom

    Thanks Ted – this is very thought-provoking. 

    My question for you is this: 

    Since you ignore your “All friends” feed and ask for no DMs, what’s the purpose of following people? (other than helping them maintain their follow-followee ratio as you describe up top)

    In other words, how do either you or I benefit from your following me?

    regards,

    Ubaid

    Edit: I see that this is the same question as asked by Bruno. I’ll look forward to your blog post for an answer!

    • http://twitter.com/tedcoine Ted Coine

      Ubaid,

      Very, VERY good question: I can’t thank you enough for asking it so courteously. That’s not typical. 

      I have just written a post in reply, which should go live this weekend or early next week, depending on our editorial schedule. It has taken me years, literally years(!), to articulate this for myself. I think I finally nailed it, but please, you be the judge.

      Best,
      Ted

  • http://twitter.com/jennyriojas Jennifer Riojas

    Informative Twitter information! Thank you for first following me.

    • http://twitter.com/tedcoine Ted Coine

      Jennifer, I always like to make a new friend. Welcome to Switch and Shift! I hope we see you back here often – and if you like the community that is self-assembling, please bring your friends :)

  • Chase Berger

    Follow me, I follow everyone back!!!

    http://twitter.com/AnimeFanNetwork

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  • http://twitter.com/tedcoine Ted Coine

    Finally, after a couple of years of rumination on this topic, I’ve figured out how to explain how following so many people works for me. Submitted for your approval: 

    http://switchandshift.com/my-most-asked-twitter-question-answered 

    If you still hate my follow-back policy after reading that post, please let me know in the comments there. 

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  • Map Me To

    Thanks for the follow. Great post! Look forward to exploring your website.

  • Donnita Parker

    Mornin’ Ted. Thanks for the insight. I wrestled with the whole ‘who to follow’ decision. Do I follow all to be nice? Follow only those with whom I resonate? I’ve concluded it makes no sense to seek same-ness. There’s no fun in that. Even those who are a complete 180 from my perspective give me the opportunity to explore my own truths.

    • http://www.savvycapitalist.blogspot.com TedCoine

      Awesome, Donnita! That’s my deal, too. Great comment.

  • Fitktn

    I get it.

  • Rebecca

    Hi Ted,
    I am new to Twitter and really appreciate your post. I haven’t joined because it seems overwhelming to try and keep up with all my followers on Facebook I couldn’t imagine trying to keep up with the # of tweets so your description of how to filter helps. Thanks for the advice and tips.

  • Harold Compton

    Ted, I find that many of your rules are ones that I am using myself with giving it a lot of thought. I do follow some that do not follow me but they put out some great info which is what I looking for too. I also drop those that simply fill up my account with junk a hundred times a day. Just not enough time to read it all.

  • http://mylifesmomentsandrealities.blogspot.com/ Nicole N A

    I love your Twitter policy. Very helpful and insightful. I already use this policy although it’s all just mental notes. Thanks for the follow. I’m sure to learn a lot from you.

  • maria

    Hello Ted you are one of my favorite super star! I will follow you even if you don’t follow me you are a great source of inspiration and a good role model, thank you for sharing your knowledge with your followers
    maria

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  • CodeMyMobile

    Hi Ted,

    I really like your mantra for Twitter! Thanks for following us.

  • Lisalisa110

    Thanks Ted! I’m going to follow you now just because of your passion! For kindness, for compassion, for consideration, for manners and all that stuff that makes some humans great! I’ve been getting very irritated lately by people who just totally lack common courtesy. I’m bumping into this situation more and more and it’s frightening. I’m now on a crusade to hold people accountable for their uncaring attitude and behavior. I know I can’t change a soul on this earth but I certainly can call on their conscience if they even have one. It just makes me feel better.

  • DeCoty Phillips

    Ted,
    I’m a relatively uncomplicated individual. I am following you because you sound like a kind, decent, and knowledgeable man. I remember as a youngster saying, “I wish it were possible to be friends with everyone in the world.” Well, today’s social media has brought me closer to granting that wish than anything I could have ever imagined. You strike me as someone I’d like to observe (possibly meet), from whom I can learn, and who might appreciate the shared perspective of another.
    My follow policy is quite simple, I follow those who interest me, and those who follow me. Not totally unlike your own, (smile). The beauty of social media is you can read the posts of others, and decide if he or she is someone you’d like to follow, or know. I look forward to the experience.
    DeCoty Phillips

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  • Paul Simkins

    I love you follow-back policy. Hope I can add value to you.

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  • Dani

    I really don’t agree with this Follow-follow back extended Twitter policy. This isn’t Facebook. The spirit of Twitter isn’t this. That’s why it’s asymetrical. Who believes someone can follow thousands of users? You can be sure that Twitter will adopt sooner or later measures so that this “artificial” follow-follow back mass practice will come to an end soon.

  • John K Arnold

    Thanks. Great advice. I always follow and did not know about the ratio.. Sharing and retweeting

  • Nath

    Hi ! Thank you for this post. Answered quite a few questions for me. I agree with the logic and could very well make it my own principle for following back. And, oh well, I love the humour in it too ! So we’ll probably bump into each other again on twitter :) Have a great day.

  • Barrie Collins

    Whether anyone or agrees or not, you have a code, an ethical underpinning that is very well thought out and guides your decisions regarding Twitter following. I bet you sleep well at night. I follow everyone who follows me as well at present, but this is not the basis for my respect for your position (it is always easy to respect a position one agrees with). No…while it is true you codified some things I’ve thought for a while, what I like most is that you thought it through and based your action on human decency.

    p.s. I certainly appreciate all sides of this coin and do not believe there is an absolute right answer for everyone.

  • http://darnellworks.com/ Roger Darnell

    Love this.

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  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/nicklafond @thinkB1G

    I like it!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/nicklafond @thinkB1G

    I like it!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/nicklafond @thinkB1G

    I like it!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/nicklafond @thinkB1G

    I like it!

  • Hanan Timraz

    Hi Ted,

    I sincerely thank you for your policy which helped me with some questions in mind about the etiquette of Twitter. I’m a new Twittee -not sure if it’s a common term in Twitter or I made it up- after I was trying to resist being sucked by the social media.

    I’m following you back because I like your philosophy, and I feel good to be followed by such an interesting person.

  • Michael Callender

    I’ m learning Twitter & a rank novice. My immediate question – where & how to select a suitable site for me to blog for the Twitter media? There’ll be more

  • James Bryant

    thanks for following and thanks for the education.