Friday, July 17, 2009

Who do you Follow? Who do you 'Friend'? -- II

The mysteries of who follows you on Twitter cannot necessarily be solved by simply observing your own behavior.

Take my behavior.

I joined Twitter because I heard second or third hand I could use it to stalk my son. Oh, no, wait ... I could follow some of my kids and a handful of their friends and keep some sense of what was going on in their lives. Some sense.

Once on, I found a few other people I knew who I thought would be interesting to follow. Friends, colleagues, from my RL. And a couple of public, newsfeed-type Twitter users.

At one early point, I was notified that Barack Obama was following me. With a 'yay, sure', I reciprocated and followed him and then a bunch of other candidates for various offices. (With those particular elections long over, I've removed all of them, although -- pausing to check here -- Obama still appears to be following me. (hahaha))

In the ancient days when I joined Twitter, about 12 or 13 months ago, your user's "Home" page included a button called "Everyone" which took you to the public timeline and let you watch the entire Twitter universe float along. That button is gone and now if you want to watch that amazing tide, you have to really care and know what you are looking for. But back then, watching the public timeline would occasionally reveal someone worth following. I have a couple of people I still follow because I noticed the quality of their tweets while watching the random roll. (Janet L, Scott K -- that would be you.)

There's more, but I'm way off point.

Nothing about what I've done begins to explain the particular people who show up following me from time to time. It tooks me several months -- and a kind fellow user who deigned to answer my question -- before I figured this out. When I asked Carla (name changed to honor privacy) how she happened to start following me, she repsonded: "Auto (I've lost background Mr Tweet?) key words (philanthropy, strategic planning, etc). Not work well unfollowing often." Then I understood; I'd made some comment about poverty or charity and her bot had automatically picked me out as someone with interests in common.

In Carla's case, I don't know if we've been able to share anything useful, but at least we really do share some interests. She is not hoping to sell me something.

This week's new crop of followers are much more typical. A friend and I shared some tweetie observations that included words like 'exercise' 'weight loss' -- stuff like that. So now I have some new followers who I bet hope I'll give a follow back and buy their exercise or weight loss programs or products. Not happenin'. Not even ...

But they do make my follower numbers look better, so I guess that's something.

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