Dale Dietrich
friedman: always supply your comparative advantage
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My first 100 Twitter Followers – My Twitter Thoughts and Experience to Date

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image Today, July 4, 2009, Robert Jones became the 100th person to follow me on Twitter. Dave Zatz was the first non-automated follower to follow me. Thanks Robert & Dave. Joining Twitter on June 4, 2008, it took exactly 13 months to go garner my first 100 followers.

Having reached the 100-follower milestone, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on my experience to date.

On Followers and Following

following grid on twitter Who I Follow: For the most part, the only people I follow on Twitter are those that I have an ongoing relationship with (about 15 to 20 people) and thought leaders (about 35 people). In order for me to continue following someone they must have a high wheat-to-chaff ratio. Meaning, most of their tweets must be about topics I am interested in – not what they ate for lunch.

Loyalty: I am a rather loyal sort. If I follow someone, I follow them. The reason the list of people I follow is short (by Twitter standards) is because I read/scan most every tweet that comes in.

guy kawasaki The Kawasaki Exception: Early on I followed Guy Kawasaki. He was/is an interesting Twitter user. But this guy (pun intended) doesn’t know when to stop! He sends out torrents of tweets each day. I couldn’t take it any more. He is the only person I unfollowed because of too many interesting tweets. FYI his post: “How to Pick Up Followers on Twitter” is pretty good except for his advice to follow everyone that follows you – ugh!

How I Found those I Follow: The best way of finding interesting people is to mine the following list of the people that I already follow.

Who I do Not Follow: Anyone else. I know, this makes me an anomaly on Twitter.  I don’t have the time to follow many more people. If I follow someone new and stick with them, I’ll usually remove someone else.

I Do Not Follow to be Followed: Most people that have huge follower lists also follow a huge number of people. How can someone follow 10,000 people? 1,000 people?  Really!? I can barely keep up with the 50 people I follow.

tweetdeck I Do Not Use Filters: Yesterday Mashable posted: ‘20 Ways to Filter your Tweets’. I’ve said, from the first time TweetDeck (pictured to the right) became popular, that the only reason someone needs it, is to filter out people they shouldn’t be following. To me, following people for the purpose of obtaining followers in return (most people seem to follow-back anyone that follows them) smacks of mutual fraud. There is no way anyone can realistically follow more than 100 or 200 people. For me 50 is about right. Filtering software, it seems to me, is only needed to filter out those that a person follows but has no intention of actually following. To users of TweetDeck (and similar filtering software) I say, the only people you should be following are those that you add to your ‘favourites’ filter list. You are misleading everyone else. Am I missing something here?

Crowd Sourcing Exception: I do acknowledge that people like Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble and Paul Thurrott follow tens of thousands of people to use them for crowd sourcing. They say as much on their podcasts. They can ask a question on Twitter and have hundreds answer it in seconds. But these same people are the first to use Twitter filtering software the second their questions are answered. Most who are followed by these tech celebrities are fooling themselves if they think their tweets are being read in return.

Few Real World Friend Followers: None of my family (close or extended) use Twitter. Virtually none of my real-world friends use Twitter. My nephew’s good friend Jarel Villarroya follows me. On my suggestion, two close friends set up twitter accounts, followed me, but were never heard from again.  Some clients and former clients follow me. A squad of people I have never met but have become virtual friends with over the years follow me. Beyond those 20 or so people, I do not know the remaining 80 or so people who follow me.

Related Services

friendfeed logo Friendfeed: As you can read here, I joined friendfeed in early January 2009. I dabbled there for awhile. It is a compelling service – better than Twitter in most ways. I have had an ongoing dialogue with Davis Freeberg about this. Davis has largely abandoned Twitter for friendfeed and makes compelling arguments about why I should do the same. But, most of the world uses Twitter. Most importantly, most of the people I follow use only Twitter. If most of the people I follow used friendfeed, I might make that leap. But for now, Twitter remains my primary streamed social network feed.

mr tweet logo Found Others through Mr Tweet: On the advice of Mashable, I used Mr Tweet in December 2008 to source some of the people I followed at that point.  Taking a look at Mr Tweet today, it seems to be a very different service. It now requires that you disclose your twitter ID and password to use it. It didn’t back then. I refuse to use any service that makes this demand.

hashtag logoHash Tags: At the advice of Kevin Rose (Ten Ways to Increase Your Twitter Followers) I started using hash tags on February 9, 2009 (see how hash tags work here). Using hash tags really does generate followers. I would say that most of my followers have found me through my use of hash tags. I know this because most new followers follow me within minutes of my posting a tweet with a hash tag on a topic that interested them.

twitter chicklet

Twitter Chicklet: I added a twitter chicklet link into the top right of all my web properties. I don’t know if this resulted in followers or not. It can’t hurt. Of course I also added the Twitter Widget to the middle/right column of this blog.

image Bio & Customized Profile Page: I also took Kevin Rose’s advice and filled in the bio pages on Twitter and added a customized profile page. Why not? I want people to know who I am. It ads to my overall Internet ‘brand’. I made my Twitter profile page look similar to the Daleisphere branding and the branding on my primary DaleDietrich.com website.

quitter logoQuitter: In March 2009, I joined Quitter. Quitter emails you when someone stops following you on Twitter. It tells you what tweet you wrote just before you were dropped. I soon quit, Quitter. It was kind of a downer. I’m not about to arbitrarily tailor my tweets to maximize followers. If people aren’t interested in my tweets, I understand why they would stop following me. After all, I stop following people for lots of reasons. I’d guess 30 or so people have stopped following me so far.

twitter - no image Blocking Spam/Fake Followers: Part of the reason my follower numbers are low is that I actively block followers that seem to be spamming. I look at the profile of each person that follows me and block them if they appear to be following me for some nefarious reason. I can’t understand ‘followers’ that follow 50,000 people and are being followed by 50,000 others. When I see those kinds of ridiculous numbers I block them (I’ve blocked dozens like this). Other times you find followers with a single tweet that is some kind of marketing scam or sales pitch. Alternatively, these folks have an unending stream of sales pitch tweets and nothing else. They get blocked. Those with no image (ie: the brown image with blue circles pictured above) tend to get blocked. Most of these folks have no tweets. I’m not sure what to make of them.

Update: The fakefollowers service uses interesting criteria to determine what percentage of twitter followers are fake. A follower is considered ‘fake’ if:

  • they have less than 2 followers
  • they follow more than 1,000 others and don’t use TweetDeck
  • they follow less than 2 others
  • over 99% of their tweets contain hyperlinks
  • they have never tweeted; or
  • they have no real name

Sounds like a pretty good list. As of June 6, 2009 it says that 20% of my followers are fake, and 80% are true. Check your (or someone else’s) followers out here.

What Twitter Means to Me

Twitter Changed How I Use the Internet: When I joined Twitter, I simply didn’t ‘get it’. I had low expectations. Today it is an indispensible service. Much of the blog surfing and RSS-feed subscribing I did a year ago has been replaced by my Twitter feed. Those I follow are so good that news and blog posts on most every topic I care about now flow in to me effortlessly.

Tweeting Comes Naturally: Like blogging, tweeting comes naturally to me. If it felt like work, I wouldn’t do it. I am the kind of person that sends links in emails to friends and family if I find something on a topic that I know a friend or family member is interested in. Twitter is an efficient means of doing the same thing, with the added advantage that every recipient has chosen to receive my tweets – unlike friends and family members that may have felt spammed when receiving more of such emails than they would have liked. :)

A Means of Connecting with Like-Minded People: Virtual friendships have started and old one’s have become stronger because I tweet on topics my followers are interested in and I follow the tweets of those that have common interests with me. The symbiotic relationships that flow out of Twitter are terrific.

A Constant Companion: Thanks to my iPhone, PC and laptop, no matter where I am, I can check in and see ‘what’s happening’. I am rarely bored. Twitter provides a never ending stream of thought provoking information on the topics I care about.

Thought Leader: I want to be a thought leader. I work hard at providing interesting, relevant and original tweets to those that follow me. Thought leaders rightly earn high follower to following ratios. If they haven’t, they are not thought leaders.

The Next 100 Followers: I’m hoping it takes less than 13 months to garner my next 100 followers. To those that follow me, I’ll continue to try to post interesting and thought provoking tweets with links to articles on the topics I am, and hopefully you are, passionate about. Thanks so much!

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  • http://www.davisfreeberg.com/ Davis Freeberg

    Great observations Dale, as you mentioned I left Twitter for FriendFeed so my perspective is a little bit different, but in defense of following a ton of people let me point out how I use Friendfeed. First, I know that I won't get to ever Tweet or FF post, so I don't try and use it that way. This is what my RSS reader is for. When it comes to FF or Tweets, I see it as a live snapshot on things that are happening within my social circle. This means that I don't see everything, but I do tend to see the breaking news. I've even noticed that FF has been breaking news faster than Bloomberg feeds, which is saying a lot considering that people pay Bloomberg $1,500 a month for the quick access to news.

    Beyond what's just happening now, I also like the search only your friends feature on FF. This allows me to follow 1,000 people whose opinion that I care about, but then restrict it to topics that I'm only interested in. If someone in my lifestream has something to say about Apple, it will probably put me to sleep, but if someone is talking about TiVo or DivX, you can bet that I care very much about the opinion they are expressing. By only following 50 – 100 people you don't get enough content to make these filters very useful. While you raise good points and I do think it would be better if we could distinguish between following someone and being their friend better, but at the same time, the firehose of content has advantages too.

  • http://www.davisfreeberg.com/ Davis Freeberg

    Great observations Dale, as you mentioned I left Twitter for FriendFeed so my perspective is a little bit different, but in defense of following a ton of people let me point out how I use Friendfeed. First, I know that I won't get to ever Tweet or FF post, so I don't try and use it that way. This is what my RSS reader is for. When it comes to FF or Tweets, I see it as a live snapshot on things that are happening within my social circle. This means that I don't see everything, but I do tend to see the breaking news. I've even noticed that FF has been breaking news faster than Bloomberg feeds, which is saying a lot considering that people pay Bloomberg $1,500 a month for the quick access to news.

    Beyond what's just happening now, I also like the search only your friends feature on FF. This allows me to follow 1,000 people whose opinion that I care about, but then restrict it to topics that I'm only interested in. If someone in my lifestream has something to say about Apple, it will probably put me to sleep, but if someone is talking about TiVo or DivX, you can bet that I care very much about the opinion they are expressing. By only following 50 – 100 people you don't get enough content to make these filters very useful. While you raise good points and I do think it would be better if we could distinguish between following someone and being their friend better, but at the same time, the firehose of content has advantages too.

  • http://www.daleisphere.com Dale Dietrich

    Davis:

    I don't understand your sentence “I know that I won't get to ever Tweet or FF post, so I don't try and use it that way”?

    The native topic restriction function in friendfeed can be had in twitter apps like Tweetdeck no?

    The biggest and most obvious benefit of ff over twitter is the size of posts. The 144 character limit in Twitter drives me nuts. And, as you point out, you can start really good threaded conversations in friendfeed that you can't in twitter. I wish friendfeed started first because it is clearly superior.

    You also made a good point in your emails to me that you can have more influence as a thought leader in ff than you can in twitter. You can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. I completely agree with that too.

    I haven't abandoned ff for sure. It's just put aside for now. I still dabble there. I use it mostly as the live feed whenever I watch one of LeoLaporte's Twit.tv live video podcasts. It serves as a terrific interactive conversation with those watching the same video podcast live.

    But, alas, I only have so much time in the day and, for now, my time is spent on Twitter.

  • http://www.daleisphere.com Dale Dietrich

    Davis:

    I don't understand your sentence “I know that I won't get to ever Tweet or FF post, so I don't try and use it that way”?

    The native topic restriction function in friendfeed can be had in twitter apps like Tweetdeck no?

    The biggest and most obvious benefit of ff over twitter is the size of posts. The 144 character limit in Twitter drives me nuts. And, as you point out, you can start really good threaded conversations in friendfeed that you can't in twitter. I wish friendfeed started first because it is clearly superior.

    You also made a good point in your emails to me that you can have more influence as a thought leader in ff than you can in twitter. You can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. I completely agree with that too.

    I haven't abandoned ff for sure. It's just put aside for now. I still dabble there. I use it mostly as the live feed whenever I watch one of LeoLaporte's Twit.tv live video podcasts. It serves as a terrific interactive conversation with those watching the same video podcast live.

    But, alas, I only have so much time in the day and, for now, my time is spent on Twitter.

  • http://www.davisfreeberg.com/ Davis Freeberg

    That's what I get for commenting while chowing down on a burger, the sentence should have been I know that I won't get to everY tweet . . . Not sure about the capabilities of Tweetdeck since I haven't tried it out, but even if you can filter Twitter in this way, it still wouldn't be a competition in my book.

    FF's killer app is the ability to comment on other's posts and have that conversation aggregated into one place. With Twitter, it's hard to just insert yourself randomly into a conversation with someone you don't know. On FF it's one of the best parts of the community. It allows everyone to benefit from the conversation instead of just the person it was directed @

    The relaxed character limits are nice too especially because I tend to struggle keeping things brief. Being able to add a photo, embed a video or include an .mp3 of a podcast w/ a post is also pretty cool and allows for a richer media experience.

    I think that influence on FF works differently then Twitter. With Twitter people need to know you outside the service for your Tweets to have any kind of reach. If you're the CEO of a startup or some exec or celeb enough people want to communicate with you that a single tweet can create a huge wave. With FF it's different. The conversations bump back up to the top everytime you like or comment something, so social interaction is rewarded even more than fame.

    As FF grows up, what I see happening is that these super popular people are going to serve as hubs where new users will congregate and get to know each other around their posts. The larger your network, the better you can bring people into a conversation around the topics you care about most. With FF being as young as it is, 100 followers today will be worth 2,000 in the future. For those who missed cementing their influence on Twitter early on, I see FF as a mulligan.

  • http://www.davisfreeberg.com/ Davis Freeberg

    That's what I get for commenting while chowing down on a burger, the sentence should have been I know that I won't get to everY tweet . . . Not sure about the capabilities of Tweetdeck since I haven't tried it out, but even if you can filter Twitter in this way, it still wouldn't be a competition in my book.

    FF's killer app is the ability to comment on other's posts and have that conversation aggregated into one place. With Twitter, it's hard to just insert yourself randomly into a conversation with someone you don't know. On FF it's one of the best parts of the community. It allows everyone to benefit from the conversation instead of just the person it was directed @

    The relaxed character limits are nice too especially because I tend to struggle keeping things brief. Being able to add a photo, embed a video or include an .mp3 of a podcast w/ a post is also pretty cool and allows for a richer media experience.

    I think that influence on FF works differently then Twitter. With Twitter people need to know you outside the service for your Tweets to have any kind of reach. If you're the CEO of a startup or some exec or celeb enough people want to communicate with you that a single tweet can create a huge wave. With FF it's different. The conversations bump back up to the top everytime you like or comment something, so social interaction is rewarded even more than fame.

    As FF grows up, what I see happening is that these super popular people are going to serve as hubs where new users will congregate and get to know each other around their posts. The larger your network, the better you can bring people into a conversation around the topics you care about most. With FF being as young as it is, 100 followers today will be worth 2,000 in the future. For those who missed cementing their influence on Twitter early on, I see FF as a mulligan.

  • http://www.rutgerblom.com/ Rutger Blom

    Thank you for an interesting article. I started using topify.com some months ago. It's a service that manages new followers on Twitter. Works very well for me. Might be something for you too.

  • http://www.rutgerblom.com/ Rutger Blom

    Thank you for an interesting article. I started using topify.com some months ago. It's a service that manages new followers on Twitter. Works very well for me. Might be something for you too.

  • http://www.daleisphere.com Dale Dietrich

    Thanks Rutger, I checked out the topify video. I like the idea but don't like handing over my twitter ID and email address to third parties. It wasn't clear from the front page if they also require my Twitter password. Do they?

    I do wish Twitter's email notification did what Topify does – especially including the profile. I'm surprised Twitter's new follower notification emails don't do that.

  • http://www.daleisphere.com Dale Dietrich

    Thanks Rutger, I checked out the topify video. I like the idea but don't like handing over my twitter ID and email address to third parties. It wasn't clear from the front page if they also require my Twitter password. Do they?

    I do wish Twitter's email notification did what Topify does – especially including the profile. I'm surprised Twitter's new follower notification emails don't do that.

  • http://www.daleisphere.com Dale Dietrich

    Good points all.

    Comes down to a question of which pool do you want to swim in, today's pool or what 'may' become tomorrows pool. And, how much time you have. I'd like to have the time to play in your ff pool too. I just don't. The benefits of a possible better tomorrow on ff don't, for me, outweigh the reach of today's twitter.

    But, as I said, I do hope ff catches on. I'll happily move there and be a smaller fish than I otherwise would have been, if/when that day comes.

  • http://www.daleisphere.com Dale Dietrich

    Good points all.

    Comes down to a question of which pool do you want to swim in, today's pool or what 'may' become tomorrows pool. And, how much time you have. I'd like to have the time to play in your ff pool too. I just don't. The benefits of a possible better tomorrow on ff don't, for me, outweigh the reach of today's twitter.

    But, as I said, I do hope ff catches on. I'll happily move there and be a smaller fish than I otherwise would have been, if/when that day comes.

  • http://www.rutgerblom.com/ Rutger Blom

    Yes they, unfortunately, require your Twitter password. I'm also waiting for the day Twitter's follower notifications get as good as Topify's.

  • http://www.rutgerblom.com/ Rutger Blom

    Yes they, unfortunately, require your Twitter password. I'm also waiting for the day Twitter's follower notifications get as good as Topify's.

  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com/ Mari

    Interesting, Dale. I use Twitter in almost exactly the same way. Minor differences here and there, but my philosophy is the same.

  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com/ Mari

    Interesting, Dale. I use Twitter in almost exactly the same way. Minor differences here and there, but my philosophy is the same.

  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com Dave Zatz

    Another reason to dump Guy is that he doesn't write his own tweets. What kind of BS is that?

  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com Dave Zatz

    Another reason to dump Guy is that he doesn't write his own tweets. What kind of BS is that?

  • http://www.daleisphere.com Dale Dietrich

    Really? That blows. I assumed he was using some kind of automated tool to generate most of them but I had assumed that he at least controlled the tool.

  • http://www.daleisphere.com Dale Dietrich

    Really? That blows. I assumed he was using some kind of automated tool to generate most of them but I had assumed that he at least controlled the tool.

  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com Dave Zatz

    He freely admits having 'Ghost' tweeters. I can see “real” celebrities doing that, but I'm sorry he doesn't warrant it. I'm not interested in what his staff has to say.

  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com Dave Zatz

    He freely admits having 'Ghost' tweeters. I can see “real” celebrities doing that, but I'm sorry he doesn't warrant it. I'm not interested in what his staff has to say.

  • http://twitter.com/heuristical David Korn

    Excellent. Thank you. Helps a lot, stuff that I have been finding but you say it all. Have a nice day, dk

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