Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

#AtoZ, 2014: Totally Twitter: Follow, Autofollow, or Not

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910 Who’s on your list of Twitter Followers? Look carefully and you might find a few surprises (shocks?):

Twitter Fight

Twitter Fight

a porno queen or two
a foul-mouthed jock
a beggar (asking you to follow, pleeeeease)
a person boasting about how many followers they can get for you
people with very strange names
a person who may be calling you or your mother names in another language
other surprises.

I like Twitter, but the speed of its message flow disrupts idea continuity. Still I check Twitter fairly regularly, and I always find something interesting or funny. Kristen Lamb is one of my favorites. She gives lots of advice on writing, blogging, and jumping into the social network. She always has something amusing to say.

Lamb_2011_1__biggerKristen Lamb@KristenLambTX Apr 14
Been working since 7 this morning. Can I have back all those naps I didn’t want when I was a kid?       Best-Selling Author. Social Media Jedi. Newest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

But given the fun, Twitter does have it annoyances: love-hate relationships with followers, for one. I have found it necessary to develop my own guidelines for accepting followers. (Yes, that sounds snobbish. Others may have their own personal guidelines.)

Here are a few guidelines I use for managing my own wannabe followers:

1.  I do not use an autofollow program.

Early on in my Twitter lifetime, I tried out an autofollow program, that is, until I realized there are some Twits that I absolutely do not want in my followers list. Since that time, I look at each new follower to see if I want to follow them back or not. This takes only a few minutes every few days. I like to know who follows me, not how high my follower number gets.

2. I choose those I want to have as followers.

I follow those people who have somewhat related interests: reading, writing, blogging, publishing, education, travel, religion, child safety and welfare, food, technology, and perhaps some organizations and businesses related to these topics. Of course, I follow family and friends. You find out some interesting things that way! Most often, but not always, those with the similar interests follow back.

I like inspiring quotes, so I follow Denny Coates along with 24.7K followers. Alas, he doesn’t follow me back. Oh well.

coatesDenny Coates@DennyCoates 5m
 “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

3.  Every few days, I check my list of followers to see who they are.

I do this by looking at the following three words on my Twitter homepage:

Tweets                Following                  Followers

Followers: Click on Followers and a list of your followers and wannabe followers comes up.

Wannabe followers (waiting to be approved) have a white box.
Click on the new followers’ names and see if they are fairly active tweeters. A very low number of tweets may mean this is a new Tweeter. If this person has similar interests, I usually follow back. People who use faceless avatars and have only a few tweets may be nameless persona who fish for people using automatic follow-back programs. These clickers really are only after numbers, not friends. I automatically skip over this second group of tweeters.

Click on the white box so the wanabees of your choice can forever be your devoted followers (BFF).
Or leave the white boxes alone if you don’t want to follow back.

I do not follow:

1. Empty heads (avatars). I do click on these to see if more information is available about them, but generally I do not follow, andimagesTWC4023L avatar after a few days or weeks, I find they disappear from my follower list. (Qwitter tells me when I lose followers, but I don’t worry about that because these qwitters are probably the empty-headed avatars.)

2. People who do not have bios. I like to read the brief bios that Tweeters put out, and I generally follow anyone who has put a little thought into their teaser. Ten words or so is not much, but you can say a lot about yourself in those limited characters.

3. Beggars. “Follow me, and I will follow you back. Pleeeeeese.”  Sorry.

4. Language abusers and foul language. Using the word that got Paula Deen in trouble (and other words of the same ilk) is also a no-no for me. It’s disrespectful. Really, we have all heard all these words before. They do not impress. Give it a rest.

5. Erotic language, suggestive language, or bare-chested (male or female) poses. Not necessary.

6. Tweeters with unusual names who offer followers: Astuty Astika? Menda Wahyungtas?  Dinda?  Wai Routt? Anggun? Solikha?  Really? These names sound phony to me. (Honest, I did not make these examples up.) Click on their names, and you will usually see only a few tweets. Of course, they do have followers: those people who use autofollow to build up their numbers. These Twits love to count their “Gotchas.” A few of them do have lots of followers, but do you really want to have an infusion of people who have no common interests?

Of course, some of those with phony-sounding names may have something going for them. Some can have hilarious, off-the-cuff commentary.

Barracks O’Bama     ‏@P0TUS19h       BREAKING SCANDAL–Fox News: Photos prove that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were masticating together.

Alas, on my latest check, Barracks O’Bama seems to have gotten lost in the dust of all those others with spelling variations of Barack Obama. (By the way, can you spell our President’s name?)

7. Tweeters who promise thousands of followers for $. Nope. Watch and you will see that these follower promises crop up in batches. Five or six unusual names, no bios, no picture.  Click on their names, and you see that they have only a few followers themselves and have only put out a few tweets. If they can promise you followers, why don’t they have all that many followers themselves? Don’t click on the URL they give out.

8. Tweeters who tweet in another language. Sorry, If I can’t interpret what you say, I don’t follow. And you probably can’t read what I say either. I do follow a few French or Spanish Tweeters. It gives me practice in reading those languages that I studied many years a little while ago in high school. Most of those who tweet in another language are probably pretty nice people, but how can I tell if I can’t read what they write? Better to just leave these alone.

9. Tweeters who go by one name. Really, if you are Hillary (followers: 1.99m, following: 9, Tweets: 94) or a Monica copycat (followers: 952, following: 171, Tweets: 419K) you can get away with that. Even Justin Bieber uses both names. Of course, made-up names are okay. Just use the same cautions when following. I like the comments by

10. Tweeters (and Facebookers, for that matter) who ONLY tweet their new book repeatedly. That alone will keep the Tweeter off my follower list AND my BUY list. I admit that I do tweet about my WordPress posts, but I usually do that only a time or two for each post.

Even with fairly careful adherence to these personal follow guidelines, I get surprises in my follower list. No problem. I can remove them.

Twitter Limits

Now how about when you add people to follow, and Twitter interrupts and announces that you have reached your limit? What is that secret limit? How can you follow more people when you get to this stopping point.

After the first thousand or so followers, Twitter allows you to follow about 10% more people than follow you. So what do you do? Some people will never follow you. They just won’t. Take Dennis Coates, mentioned above. He has a following of 24.K Tweeters,  yet he follows only 8,841 people. He will likely not follow you or me. Still, I like his positive attitude and his quotes, so I will continue to follow him until he discovers what he is missing by not following me back.

At this point, in order to add followers, you must first delete people on your follow list who do not follow you back. (You will find some big-timers who do manage to get around that Twitter count practice.)

ManageFlitter will give you a list of your non-followers in the order from when you joined Twitter, and with a few clicks, you can delete those non-followers either en masse or one by one. Generally, when you invite someone to follow you, they follow you in a relatively short time or not at all.

Of course, I follow some people who will never follow me, because I want to hear what they have to say.

Here’s what a few other bloggers have to say about Twitter:

Cynthia Hartwig, “How Susan Orlean Built a Posse of 260,000+ Twitter Followers,” August 21, 2013.
Terry Whalin   “How to Improve Your Twitter Followers,” June 28, 2013.
Bridget Whelan, “8 Reasons Why a Writer Should Join Twitter on the Shortest Day of the Year”
Janice Heck, “They Laughed When I Sat Down to Twitter
Janice Heck, “Twitter Bio in Ten Words”
Two Writing Teachers, “Connecting with Other Writers,” 4/12/2014
Anita Ferreri, Sharing TCRWP: Getting Started With Twitter, 4/12/2012
TCRWP: Getting Started with Twitter

Here’s one more…about unfollowing a blog…

Don Charisma, “Please unfollow my blog”

A note from Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/articles/66885-i-can-t-follow-people-follow-limits#

The Last Meow
Janice Hall Heck, retired educator, blogger, and nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ, is quite possibly a grammar geek.

logo 2.2Oh Heck! Another Writing Quirk,  theme for the amazing 2014 A to Z Challenge, suggests ways to improve our writing by avoiding and/or eliminating troublesome bug-a-boos that cramp our writing style.

Look for a list of posts for the #AtoZ, 2014 Challenge (Writing Quirks) here:  #AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up

tWITTER CATMeow for now.  =<^ !^>=


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4 thoughts on “#AtoZ, 2014: Totally Twitter: Follow, Autofollow, or Not

  1. Thanks for the nice inclusion on your Twitter blog list. To add to your discussion, I don’t follow everybody, just the people who post interesting and sprightly information that I’m interested in. Probably never going to follow a football player but people who write about football–maybe! I do love Twitter for its humor and the fact that I can talk to almost anyone. Still angling to get a response from -bo (President Obama).

    • Hi Cynthia, I’ve actually had this piece going for a while. It’s been on the back burner. The #AtoZ Challenge encouraged me to finish it up and post it. Thanks for popping by my blog.

  2. hollyssis on said:

    Thanks for following me, Janice. You might also enjoy my website: childrensbookswithlifelessons.com, where I write about amazing kids and connect it to writing stories.

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