At current count on twitter, I have 570 followers and I follow 525 people. Of those poor, misguided 570 people, chances are, I personally know (let’s be generous) and say 100 of them, which probably includes family, personal friends, professional associates that may or may not be friends, and some pretty amazing people that I know solely thru twitter. The other 470 people are either part of that loose association known as “pillars in my professional community who for no apparent reason deigned to follow me back (let’s pity them)” or the “no really, why are you following me again” crowd.
Roughly the same can also be said for the 525 people I follow. Probably 100 of them are friends, family, or whatever, and the other 425 are amazing sources of information, humor, geeky nerdy things, or those random stars that I just couldn’t stop myself from following when I found them on Twitter. The smallest percent of accounts that I follow are brands (like Nike Fuel, Drink Michigan, or the Livery Brewery) that actually interact with their followers AND share pertinent information (products on sale, events, etc).
It occurred to me that as a semiprofessional social media practitioner, there might be a problem with not knowing anything about the 470 people that are following me and probably occasionally reading my tweets. Talk about a lack of engagement, let alone a complete failure to provide them with useful or relevant information. I’ve always been a little confused and amazed that people that don’t know me follow me anyway, even though, of course, I think I’m a little funny and interesting, so I don’t blame them.
On the other hand, it also occurred to me that if they didn’t like what I was tweeting, well, it’s a free twitterverse, they are welcome to stop following me.
The real crux of the question seems to be should you take the time and invest the effort to connect with your followers? Follow them back and then weed them out as they do or do not share information that you find interesting or useful? Or does it make more sense to continue on as you have (after all, they probably are following you for a reason) and take such interaction opportunities as they initiate and go from there?
Should you, and by extension your brands, to an extent force the community and connection building or just let it grow, based on shared interactions?
Which makes the most sense, since we know that the only real rule of social media is that there are no rules?