So, You Want to be Followed?

I wrote about the power of “The Network” in Personal Learning Network Thoughts.  I would say that Twitter and my blog are the most important tools to the puzzle that make up my PLN.

It takes time and effort to build, grow, maintain and nurture my PLN. I get out of it what I put in it. The PEOPLE who make up my network are “IT”.

People Make Up the Puzzle of my Network

Twitter, especially, illustrates this concept for me. The people who constitute my Twitter network are like pieces of a puzzle. I carefully select them. They have to “fit” just right to help complete the whole picture I am trying to create. They are contributing to my “big” picture. Each puzzle piece has a different “view”, that individually might be random and too detailed to see where it might belong.

The reason for writing this post, is to make one part of creating and growing my PLN transparent. Maybe it will be insightful to some, helpful or useless to others as they are trying to grow their own network or become part of someone else’s. There are many different strategies regarding the Twitter following/not following issue (Always remember the “personal” part in PLN) For a different approach, check out Alan Levine’s “My (backwards) Twitter Follow Strategy“.

Under my Twitter settings, I checked off  the “E-mail when someone starts following me” box.

Twitter Settings

I do check every  new Twitter follower notification I receive!

On one hand, I want to weed out any “weird” followers, like p*rn stars/sites or the one who only followed women with the same first name as mine and on the other hand, I want to take the opportunity to check my new follower out to determine if they could be a new addition to my learning network.

My Personal Learning Network, well, is personal. I get to determine who I want to be part of it and who will only add “chatter” that does not interest me. My Twitter network is made up of people who are the puzzle pieces that contribute to my area of passions, interests in teaching & learning in a multilingual, multicultural, technology rich, practical, theoretical, world of connected educators. I especially look to have puzzle pieces that are diverse (languages, countries of residence, subject areas, positions, primary/secondary/terciary) yet pretty homogeneous (educators, third culture kids, globally oriented)

One of three things will happen after I check their Twitter page out:

  1. I will follow them back
  2. I will not follow them back
  3. I will block them to follow my updates

Here are some of the criteria I use to determine if which of the above action I will follow. I will use examples from some of the new follower- notifications I received in the last few days.

Looking at Profile Information, Tweets and Followers

Here are some of the first things, I check as soon as I am on a new follower’s Twitter page:

  1. Name, profile and bio description
  2. How many people are already following him?
  3. The last ~10 tweets they posted

This new follower gives me NO information who they are and  how they would contribute to my learning. Since there is no link to a blog or other site for further information, nor do I know if he/she is part of the educational world, marketing group or dating service , I go ahead and block him from my updates.

Profile, Tweets, Name

The above new follower also neglected to add his name and a profile description. It just happened to make a connection with his username and remembered that he had taken the time to comment on a blog post of mine the day earlier, where he did leave the URL to his teaching blog. Because I liked what I saw there, I  started following Keith on Twitter, although he neglected to add much information about him that would have enticed me otherwise to add him.

Other people they follow

Again, another new follower who did not add any bio description or a link to a blog or site for further information. I am looking at the people he/she is following and am recognizing various edu-tweeters who are already in my network too. I am also glancing over to the last few tweets and am seeing that he/she mentions that “Twitter is blocked at school”. So, it is a pretty safe guess that he/she is somehow education – related. Yet, not enough information… I don’t add his/her to my network, but do not block either.

Link to Blog or Website

There is no bio description of this new Twitter follower,but there is a link to a website. The domain already gives it away…. something with marketing… I also see that they are following ISTE and K12Online Conference, so he must have some interest in education, but am not following back.

Bio Description

This new follower did a nice job with their name, location, site link and bio definition. I learn that they live in Portugal, he is a German and English teacher and interested in ICT. He writes in English and Portuguese. Great! That decision was easy and I am following him back.

Last 10 Tweets

Again, am very happy with the profile information left by this new follower. Am also checking out the last few tweets and like what I see: there are RT (re-tweets), directly addressing someone else (@username) and also other contributions that are interesting to me. She is from Brazil, which contributes to my global network, so I start following her as well.

So, now you have seen a little insight into my thoughts who I add or block in my PLN.

If you are trying to grow your Twitter follower base, you might want to keep these criteria in mind if you want to be followed back.

  1. Fill out your profile information
    1. Name
    2. Location
    3. Link to your blog, website or linked in page
    4. Bio description with your areas of interests
  2. Have some interesting tweets posted yourself BEFORE your start following hundreds of people.
    1. RT interesting tweets from others.
    2. Directly address someone’s tweet by replying with @username
    3. Share what you are learning or working on
  3. Make sure that you don’t have “p*rn” stars or sites that appear in YOUR “following” list.
  4. Leave comments on blogs and sign with your Twitter username

What are some of your criteria to decide if you are following back or blocking a new follower? Can you contribute tips and advice to Twitter newbies who want to grow their follower list? Please share.