Many people struggle with the idea of Twitter. The idea of posting 140-character updates for the world to see seems shallow and the idea of following other peoples' updates seems creepy. Why would you want to follow people you hardly know, anyway?
This is especially true when people explain it badly. As my Twitter-bud Jennifer Leggio commented yesterday, "It would take me three hours and white board to explain Twitter to my mom." I've stopped using the term 'micro-blogging' as I found people generally went cross-eyed when I said it.
I nowadays, I describe Twitter as being like instant messaging but with crowds of people.
In reality, Twitter can be a great way of staying in touch with your friends. But Twitter is at its most valuable when you have a large communicate with a sizeable community of people. Laura Fitton and Shel Israel both wrote great posts recently on this topic, saying much the same thing.
This got me thinking: how do people find others to follow on Twitter?
So I asked my Twitter friends.
This is one of the cool benefits of a larger social circle - you can pose questions and get useful replies. A few trends from what I heard:
- Friends: First and foremost, people follow those that they know.
- People That Others Follow: People rely on the quality of their friends' friends.
- Similar Interests: People look for other users with similar interests that they can learn from.
- Conversation: People gravitate towards people who are involved in interesting conversations. One-way information pushing doesn't work.
If you're new to Twitter or thinking about giving it a try, don't limit yourself to people you know. Branch out. Check out who your friends follow. Find people with similar interests. Expand your circle and you'll realize the true benefits of Twitter.
Existing Twitter users - how do you decide who to follow?
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