My twitter philosophy is like a well-balanced swimming pool. In a balanced swimming pool, the water is always inviting, and when you are in it, it’s relaxing, stimulating, invigorating, and valued. To create that liquid oasis, it took investment, adding ingredients, and tuning of chemistry. It is a constant nurturing process. Like the process to maintain a swimming pool’s balance, I continue to grow and nurture my twitter community by using it and constantly learning. Before I forget, you can follow me at @AndrewJStein
Investing In Balance
I invest in creating a balanced follower, and following community, and from time to time vary my experience based on my need and circumstance. To ensure the twitter community I have built can support tomorrow’s need and circumstance, it must be invested in, constantly. One needs as much influence from those they follow, as much as they need people to influence in those that follow them. To be clear, one needs a balance (nearly one to one) of those they follow to be influenced, and those that follow them, that they influence.
Sometimes I jump in to immerse in the statistically rich value of information that gives me a distribution curve of thought to help me think, make a decision, or otherwise learn. Other times, I check in, only briefly. Perhaps I set flags that alert me to change or important happenings, or I go looking for something using twitter lists or advanced search on the stream. And sometimes I set flags to give me real-time feedback about shifts in the distribution curve. This is a science that will continue to develop (you heard it here!).
In either case, the key is that like a swimming pool’s water, one must allow lots of molecules of water in the pool to make it an effective liquid oasis of information. Likewise, your twitter followers and those you follow must be diverse, in a statistically rich context.
Like in life, diversity is good, discrimination is bad. Don’t discriminate when building your twitter community, build your balanced twitter stream (both followers and those you follow), and learn how to manage it. Don’t read everything, that is impossible. The tools to monitor tone of your feed, and/or selectively give you the information you need exist. Use them, or you will either run out of time, or fail to gain anything from the big picture.
Return On My Investment
You will not see me limiting my twitter experience to 100 people, in in a single domain or some other vertical industry, interest space or market genre or category. That would stifle the very DNA of design thinking that I want to nurture. Whether in twitter deep for a period of time, or just peering in for a moment, I expect to relax by reading interesting content, have my own thoughts stimulated by others’ thinking, invigorate the expanses of my scope and perspective, and gain value through learning.
Like open innovation, or crowd sourcing, you never know where the next great idea will come from. However, it’s a statistical good bet that your next idea will not come from the place or source you expect. Expand your source (e.g., your twitter community) if you want to increase your ROI, and increase the potential of your ROI in terms of both time to ROI, and multiple ROIs. Read that sentence again – it’s an important one.
I’ve met people that selfishly believe they should not have a balanced twitter experience, even in their follower to followed ratio. Unless y0u are a rock star, Bill Gates, or Guy Kawasaki, this is likely a misguided direction. Famous people have more followers for a reason that regular people cannot expect.
Some of my colleagues believe they can limit those they follow, to say a hundred or so and still expect to have tens of thousands of followers. In addition to being selfish, the problem with this idea is that social (intentionally leaving off the word “media”) is about exposure to diversity which in turn drives creativity and design thinking.
And, if one were to limit who they follow, they cannot expect a large following to be interested in what they have to say (tweet) – they lack credibility as demonstrated in their investment in following others. The good news is that followers want to follow if you follow them back. And, they want to know what you have to say, if you are interested in what they have to say. The most rudimentary way to demonstrate this is to follow back, and grow your twitter community.
This new social world naturally seeks equilibrium where everyone has a voice and where every one of those voices listens to others’ voices to maintain the balance of the distribution curve.
Just read the newspaper, or watch the news to see the failure of trying to control the message. Alternatively, study or reread the philosophy of Marshall McLuhan. In places in the world where governments attempt to control the twitter feed, its content or even try to replace the internet completely – things get, or are, out of balance. Controlling the statistical distribution and equilibrium is impossible to do and it misses the point to invite rational thinking to drive the center of the distribution curve (yes, I’m talking statistics here…)
You will see that I follow back every new follower. And, you will see that I follow a very diverse, wide and varied group. Sure, if something is offensive, or destructive to others, I may stop following. But in the statistical long-run, I believe that I am much better off, and a richer human being, through exposure to diverse thinking from diverse people in diverse industries, geographies, and with diverse cultural, social, and economic perspectives.
You will also see that I read, and share through Twitter and other social forums. Why keep what I read and learn to myself? I also tweet valuable information multiple times. When you have thousands of followers who re-tweet your tweets to tens of thousands of other followers, you need to post more than once and sometimes more in order to ensure reach. I’m certainly not the first to say this – but I am making it part of my twitter philosophy, so if you see something more than once from me, it’s in order spread the value to others, not to annoy you personally. When that happens, skip and move on, knowing that others in the twitter universe are benefiting.
If you want to follow me on Twitter, I am at @AndrewJStein.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment. Contribute your thinking so others can benefit.
Image Credits: Mike Prosser via Wylio.com / Flickr and Luc Legacy via Wylio.com / Flickr both under Creative Commons 2.0 License.