OK, I’ve had enough. That’s it. I’ve had enough of people suggesting we should all have limits on the number of people followed on Twitter. The tweet that did it? Peter King, who suggested “Twitter should cap how many people you can follow at 10% of the # of people following you. Put a premium on the # you follow.” and “Twitter needs to be a place for leaders to lead. Otherwise we’ll cancel each other out.”
Yeah, that’s what we need: more leaders. And forcing people to broadcast to an audience before they can listen to anyone.
Many people have a ‘quality not quantity’ strategy with Twitter where they restrict themselves to following a certain number of Twitterers. But by using certain tools and adopting a certain mindset, I think you can have both quality and quantity. So here’s how I ‘follow’ 2,500 people on Twitter:
Think of it as a stream, not a publication
There are two fears on Twitter: the fear that you will miss out on something because you’re not following the right person; and the fear that you’ll miss out on something because you’re following too many people. I tend to lean towards the former.
The thing is, Twitter is not a permanent publication; it is a conversation, or a series of conversations. You dip in and out of it. I am not ‘listening to 1000 voices’ – I am listening to the few who happen to be tweeting at that particular time.
The more people you follow, the more chance you have of stumbling across something interesting.
The more diverse people you follow, the more chance of stumbling across something useful from outside of your immediate circles – and those for me are the most interesting things of all.
Stop worrying about what you’re missing, and focus on what you do see. As for the quality…
You can still choose a few dozen favourite users
TweetDeck is a Twitter reader that allows you to split your feed in various ways. I use this to have a separate ‘friends’ column for people I know particularly well, alongside the feed of all those I follow. You can also use it to have a column for a particular search.
If you’re accessing on a mobile phone, Twitstat Mobile allows you to ‘sweetheart’ users to a ‘VIP’ list.
That’s it. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t follow thousands of people, just how and why you might. Twitter is so flexible you can use it in any number of ways, all at the same time. Just don’t tell me how I should use it.
How do you manage your Twitterstream?