…as I design and teach “Intro to Online Teaching”

my criteria for evaluating whom to follow on twitter

I have been using twitter since December 2007… so waaaay before Oprah and it going mainstream. In fact, i am not sure i like everyone and their brother talking about it and doing it…it kinda makes me cringe when the local news anchor mentions twitter to sound hip and with it, but it is in a way that you know he has no idea what he is talking about. it feels like it has become uncool in some way.

Anyway, in the beginning, i followed everyone that followed me. I guess i thought it was the polite thing to do, and i was just pretty much stunned that anyone that i didn’t already know would want to follow me.

I don’t do that any more. And i am much more selective about whom i will follow and let follow me. i now intentionally want to filter noise from signal. Some people will twitter about any/all random thoughts in their heads. i use twitter primarily professionally and to document my exploration of the social web and instructional technologies (this is my signal), but as i have said in a previous post, i have experienced a blurring with my professional self, and so you will find in my stream occasional personal tweets about my life/family (this is my noise). I look for a balance of noise and signal, and where there is more signal than noise.

So, how do i decide if i will follow you, or follow you back?

  • I look at your twitter profile. do you seem interesting in some way? i followed a guy who said he likes  pudding @ryenyc. and i am following a cat @fluffythecat who diligently tweets meow every day.
  • what is your name? are you a person or a business? are you a real person? i will block most businesses that are not edtech focused. i will block most vendors unless i use/like their product. it is astounding how fast some of these vendors will tweet/follow you when you mention their product. Sometimes i am impressed, sometimes it feels slimy.
  • where are you located? not that it matters. i am just curious. and interested.
  • where do you work? if you work for the ministry of education in Colombia, i am interested. If you are the Sr. Director of Tech Evangelism at BB, not so much.
  • how do you define yourself in your bio? You can loose me here, if you say something stoopid.
  • do you provide a web link to a blog or site with more info about you? i rarely follow someone with no web link. lately, i have been DMing (direct messaging) people without links that follow me asking them for a link to get to know them better before i decide if i want to follow them.
  • how many people do you follow? if you follow 1,259,537 people, i will NOT be 1,259,538.
  • how many follow you? if 1,259,537 people follow you, i might be curious about that, but i probably won’t follow you unless you are obama or brent spiner.
  • what do you do? higher ed faculty, k12teachers, instructional technologists will likely get a follow, people shilling books or services will most likely be blocked.
  • i look to see how many updates you have and when you joined. If you joined yesterday, have 2 updates, and 1,369 followers, it’s a pass.
  • i look to see what your ratio of posts to @replies are. If you only post you are suspect. If you are @replying only you are suspect. I look for a balance.
  • i look at whom you @reply to and what you are talking about. If your @reply conversations are too personal or i can’t figure them out…
  • I look at how often you post. if you post too much, you are irritating. If you don’t post enough, you are not relevant.
  • I also look at whom you are following and who follows you. I also look to see if we have people we follow or interact with in common.
  • i then look through 2-3 full screens of your twitter stream. if i learn one thing from you, i will follow you. all it takes is one thing.   : )

My purpose for twittering is for professional development and community and to extend my PLN. i want to engage in interaction on things that are of interest to me with people that interest me or that know more than me about things that i am interested in -  namely instructional technology. I also love twittering conferences and documenting my web2.0 experiences. I also use twitter to update my facebook status feed.

Without a doubt or without any reservation i say that twitter has been the most powerful influential professional development experience in my life. It is a vibrant exciting living expression of my community of practice. It gives me access to experts all over the world that i might never have met otherwise. and it gives me a forum in which to document my work, express myself, interact with others, and establish my own professional presence, credibility, and level of expertise.

it not an overstatement for me to say that i heart twitter  :  )

Posted by on May 15, 2009 at 10:19 pm and tagged  | Comments & Trackbacks (2)




2 Responses to “my criteria for evaluating whom to follow on twitter”

  1.   Richard Smyth Says:

    Excellent post! I will mark this for my professional development (by tagging it twitter in my delicious bookmarks: http://delicious.com/rsmyth/twitter) when I’m teaching teachers about Twitter… How did I find it? I follow *you* on Twitter and saw your post linking to it…. @rsmyth.

  2.   JJ Says:

    this looks TERRIBLE in Internet Explorer!!

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