Discretion in Selection
To the extent that Twitter is becoming the go-to resource for finding information and staying up to date, the real value of Twitter is in the quality of those you follow. This means that you need to be selective about who you follow. There are three steps to vetting a prospective followee carefully:
- well filled out bio (photo, description, link) - with scant or unclear information, including a generic avatar, I will not follow
- quality and frequency of [latest] tweets - too many tweets is generally a problem. Too many of the same tweet is a no-go. Quality in a tweet includes the quality of the link.
- number of followers and ratio of followers/following. Someone who follows thousands of people is unlikely to engage. Someone with a high ratio of followers to the number they are following is probably doing something right (quality of content).
The Power of Groups
With under one thousand people I am following, it is clear that the noise level is far too high. The truth is that I need to cull that list down. You have generally two major options to keep the number of people you follow down : (a) be picky from the beginning, otherwise thrash and cut when you have built up too many; (b) religiously categorize the people you follow into groups.
There are several tools that help to manage your followees. However, it should be noted that many come and disappear since it's a pretty rough world out there and economic models are as rare as the triple rainbow. Ones that I might suggest for now are Twitter Karma, Friend or Follow. There is Refollow, but to be effective you need to pay for this one. Another is Twerpscan. As for easy organization, there is nothing that seems to be functional any longer. My two favorite tools I had been using are both unusable currently (one Twittangle closed down and the other Tweepler is back under rework). Anyone know of one, please let us know!
Putting your followees into groups and using a Twitter client interface (ie Hootsuite or Tweetdeck) allows you to read with much greater ease the tweet stream. Knowing which groups you want and who to put where is the real work!
The Joy of Serendipity
Meanwhile, even though I regularly review and vet my list (it takes discipline and time), I also enjoy the notion of serendipity. I think that's important... to keep it fresh and exciting.