Twitter is a massive viral meteorite of information spiraling towards us every second. In this, the question must continue to be asked… how do we make sense of it all? Is it a waste of time?

It can be, if you don’t know where to look or who to follow.

With this, in my recent survey on social media, I asked the question…

What makes you follow a person or business on Twitter?

As much as I am interested in what causes us each to decide to click follow, I am even more curious at looking at the responses for this question through the lens of my own Twitter feed, as in… how am I delivering to those who are following me? Do I meet the criteria of my follower base?

Let’s take a look at some of the responses:

  • influence
  • Business = those that have products that I’ve used and liked or I would like to use (if I could). People = old classmates, relatives, new friends that I’ve made.
  • if I am interested in them/ know them
  • Human connection. A shared interest. 0 sign of automated link sharing.
  • Relevant information that challenges me or causes me to think in a different way – sparks ideas
  • Consistently posting intelligent/relevant/applicable/comical communication.
  • Their tweets are relevant to my interests, or they’re funny, or they’re a personal friend or family member.
  • Relevant, relational, inspiring tweets of about two to three a day maximum.
  • Interaction, witty conversation, connections to people/places/ideas I don’t have (or want to strengthen).
  • engagement, local interest, shared interest
  • Interesting news, quotes, conversation about same interests. Response to my tweets.
  • I follow people because of interaction or if they are something I may be interested in. I rarely follow out of obligation. If I attempt interaction with you, and you do not respond at least once, chances are I will unfollow you.
  • If they seem interesting and they actually post fairly regularly (a couple times a week or more is preferred).
  • Thought-provoking. Personality.
  • when they add value and show genuine interest in others
  • if i find the person or business information or products interesting.
  • The impression that they’re a person I’d enjoy knowing. Well-natured humor. Positive messages. Knee-slapping clean jokes. Splendid but rare use of profanity. Casual, candid reviews of products I’d want to use. Photos of pets, works in progress, goofy facial expressions. Helpful or useful content.
  • They have to be engaging and sharing similar interests. It also helps if they speak the same language.
  • Their own ideas in their own voice
  • They have to share an interest in things I like or believe in. Make great products that I like. And just be a good hearted person. Have to stay positive.
  • Something that genuinely interest me and I don’t mind getting coupons, ect from… Just not to often… People I like to follow have formulated thoughts and not impulsive, “I ate this” tweets.
  • If it looks like they post regular everyday things from themselves – not just auto-generated or well formed ads. I always look at a person or business’s timeline before I follow. In reality though, it doesn’t matter a lot because I only read tweets from about 60 of the accounts I follow via a list in Tweetdeck. Every once in awhile I check the main list and transfer people over.
  • If they follow me I will look at their recent tweets to see if there’s anything from the last 20-30 that interest me. I also shy away from people who are following a zillion people because it’s clear they really aren’t interested in me.
  • If they tweet interesting info I can’t get elsewhere, are hilarious, or edifying.
  • Offer info I use or someone who is funny & shared interests.
  • Interesting and humorous
  • similar interest, industry interests, current pop culture, personal friend, business friend
  • comments that make me think, or spur a positive response in one way or another in me, or the likely potential for that to happen.
  • If I know them or if I think its a good business!
  • Value: humor, information, community
  • Recommendation/ ff, previous good experience or helpful blog post.

Are you followable on Twitter or other social networking sites? What does your use of social media reflect to your followers?

As I work with others to help them establish their social media rhythm, often times, I will discuss this principle with them..

  • RULE OF THUMB but NOT REQUIRED (FIND a rhythm that works for YOU and your AUDIENCE)

80/20 – 80% of your social media messages should be relational development and 20% should be informational or content marketing. (*if a brand, message, cause, or organization)

This accomplishes several things…

A. People will get to know who you are, what makes you tick, and things that are important to you. This creates trust and buys you the capital you need for…

B. …You to speak about your business and what you offer.

Make no mistake; building up capital is one thing. But, how you spend it is another. So, syncing up the message is critical, but how you sync it is crucial

In this, be deliberate, don’t overdo it, be conversational, ask questions, respond accordingly, have fun, be consistent, and most importantly, be you!

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. BE YOURSELF.

What I like about this is that it really forces you to focus in your message in strategic ways. Hey, we live in the world of status updates and 140 character messages. Use them wisely. Otherwise, this world isn’t much more like staring at the Las Vegas strip at night. In other words, with all these bright lights flashing and trying to get our attention, how does one stand out? Interestingly though, in Las Vegas, the lights are about the appeal and the draw, but… what really reels them into this or that casino, is what is on the inside.

Good or bad, That’s the truth.

And perhaps, we can learn from that. Because, in the end.. isn’t what is on the inside that which really matters? For me, I like that about a business I support. I like to know who they are and what they are about. I like to know that they have lives beyond the pitch of their goods. I like to know that I am not just a transaction. And you know what? I don’t think you want to be just a transaction, either.

So, if you want someone to come inside, you got to get them to the door. And these days, people can smell a pitch a mile away. Be relational… and then, informational.

I believe this goes too for the individual using the social networking platforms. For the individual, being relational means just that… relational. Get involved by responding to others peoples messages, ask others questions, be engaged. For the informational part RT your followers links, quotes, or stats on a topic.

But again, to sum up why people follow others… it is because those who are followed understand best that social media is a community, not a billboard. It is a dialogue, not a monologue.

Is this you? If not… it should be.

Does what causes you to follow someone or a business on Twitter reflect how you interact on Twitter?