I just deleted 172 twitter users who I was following but for varied reasons, were not following me back. Here is the irony: 90% of them followed me first.
I have initiated “the follow” with only a handful of people. Most of the people on my follow list happened because they followed me first and I reciprocated. (Emulating the Twitter powerhouse @GuyKawasaki, and all…) However, as I went down my list of those who were not following me, I laughed as I saw @YourBoyfriend, @CharlotteWeather, and others who I remember specifically following me first.
Those who join Twitter realize eventually that those they originally follow may not be as interesting as they thought they’d be. Or maybe they’re not “tweeting” as often. For me, tweeting is part of my job and I do enjoy letting others know about our innovative products and services. So I follow a lot of tech news sites. But for those of us using Twitter for business, we understand the point of Twitter is to start conversations. So it wasn’t painful to let go of @JohnCleese, who most likely won’t be purchasing a vulnerability assessment from us anytime soon but yet was slightly so with @RobertScoble, who I specifically remembered following me back because I mentioned it to my boss. But I kept @THErealDVORAK because I adore the “Cranky Geek” for his technological, humourous insights, even though he most likely will never respond to me.
It’s tempting to use Twitter as a bullhorn. It’s so simple to tap out those 140 characters and hit send. But if I try to start a conversation with you three times and you never respond, then it doesn’t seem to be beneficial for either of us. I admit I get annoyed when people don’t respond to a tweet directed to them when, say, they only have 4,572 followers. They way I look at it is this: If Guy Kawasaki (who has 234,732 followers) and Seth Godin (who isn’t on Twitter but yeah, he’s a big deal) can both respond to me personally, they guess what? So can you.
I admit I can do better with Twitter. I usually respond to everyone who sends me a tweet, whether it’s public or private. I enjoy helping others connect with someone who can help them. However, starting conversations around information security is sometimes tricky because I’m not a techie but yet an evangelist for our incredibly helpful products (like our HoneyPoint family, which is crazy-helpful for organizations). So although I may not be able to discuss in depth the pros and cons of cloud computing, I can point you to those in our organization who can.
The point is that Twitter is a powerful tool, but only when used by two people. It’s a tennis game, not a triathlon. Because when you drill down to the take-away for business, it’s all about the conversation and how you can help someone reach their goal. I still like the “win-win” phrase and hope that in 2010, I’ll have more of those types of conversations on Twitter.