My Twitter Refollow Policy & Other Odds and Ends

Hard on the heels of @RayBeckerman‘s Twitter refollow policy, I’ve decided to pen my own. Twitter is a great tool for spreading information in short bursts but it has been hampered by the large amount of marketing, self-promotion, bots, and adult-content promoters. I have a finite amount of time per day so any extra time spent in one area means making a sacrifice somewhere else. Therefore, I aim to maximize my Twitter return on investment (TwiROI).

Let me first share how I use Twitter:

  1. I filter through hundreds of websites that post thousands of pieces of news, commentaries, studies, and other media on a broad range of topics (collectively referred to as “posts” from this points forward). The end result is a somewhat manageable amount of items that I can read. I further reduce this set of posts into potential tweets.
  2. My tweets are structured in a predictable way:
    • The type of post comes first followed by a colon. For example: “News,” “Politics,” “Opinion,” “Research/Study,” etc.
    • The headline is next. If I can’t fit the headline within the character limit or it’s ambiguous then I may modify it but I try to avoid this as much as possible.
    • A link to the post through a URL shortener comes next followed by a hyphen.
    • In this space I may include include a short comment. There are times when I let the headline stand for itself by omitting a comment.
    • Finally, I include hashtags to ease the search for content. I may also go back and add hashes to key words within the headline.
  3. Due to obligations in real life, I schedule my tweets at no more than a 15-minute interval instead of sending them out in real-time. I break this rule when there is some breaking news or event upon which I can share articles and/or thoughts.
  4. Any content I tweet, even if I include a comment, is to never be considered an endorsement of the message, opinions, beliefs, or mission of that person, group, organization, business, government, etc. In fact, I will tweet items that are spread along the full spectrum from “completely agree” to “completely disagree.” Therefore, all a tweet means is that I considered the information worth a set of eyeballs but nothing more. I prefer my readers to take the information and make up their own mind.
  5. I enjoy and encourage discussion but my replies will be delayed. I try my best to check Twitter when I can and respond where it is appropriate but it can take several hours. When I do respond my replies are almost always in real-time.
  6. I have been known to retweet noteworthy tweets using the classic RT format (or the “via” format). If the tweet is too long then I may use the newer (and much-hated) API-based RT method Twitter introduced. I try to avoid retweeting too much as I don’t like to duplicate content.
  7. I encourage fellow tweeters to send me articles, blog posts, etc. that they find interesting and/or important. I will do my best to read it and if it is appropriate (and I have permission) then I may RT it my readers.
  8. I read every linked article. If I have not read it then I will not tweet it.
  9. I may post tweets that I categorize as purely personal. These refers to linkless tweets that are random comments or observations on whatever I’m doing (or have done) in real life. This may include pictures and other media.
  10. I will never send sponsored tweets.
  11. I read tweets through highly filtered lists due to “bandwidth/time” constraints. This means that I cannot promise to read every single tweet every person sends out. However, chances are that if we converse then I will read your stream and occasionally respond.

Here are my rules (apologies to Ray for stealing most of them) on how to not be refollowed:

  1. Your Twitter account is primarily about selling products (teeth whitening, car insurance, real estate, SEO, etc.), promoting yourself, promoting your business, promoting your products, or promoting your religion (with the expectation that I become a convert).
  2. Your Twitter account is primarily used for company PR that manned by an employee or an automated bot. I don’t have a problem if you’re providing another means for customers to provide feedback or to help use your business services but if you’re advertising then I’m not interested. If you SPAM me (adult-content promoters especially) then I’ll report you to @SPAM so you’re account is terminated.
  3. You want to be my savior, life coach, or show me the path to spiritual redemption.
  4. A majority of your tweets come from a client called “API” (meaning you’re a bot), you steal other people’s tweets in an attempt to make your account look legitimate, or you are trying to make money by allowing business to advertise to your followers. We call this SPAM.
  5. You follow my account with multiple fake accounts with the same basic naming rules (i.e. firstname_lastnameXXX where XXX is a set of numbers) in the hopes of amassing a large following. I do not auto-refollow.
  6. You don’t have a real Twitter picture of your face, you don’t link to a blog or a homepage that you run or have contributed to, or your description is generic. If I can’t identify that you are a real person then chances are I won’t be following you.
  7. I’m not interested in adult-content. If your picture is not something I’d feel comfortable showing to my 5 year old cousin then I won’t follow you. If a majority of links on your page are to an adult site then again I won’t be following you.
  8. Your account has tons and tons of #followfriday (#ff) tweets with nothing more than a list of people’s @ nicknames. I’m not interested in sorting through such tweets. Giving your readers a recommendation for a person is just as important as to why you’ve suggested them. This is why #followfriday was created. Also, please don’t retweet another person’s #ff tweet. It’s tacky.
  9. You tweet frequently about how to make money, get more followers, or achieve as much success as you. I’m South Asian so (like most South Asians) my parents will serve in that role in some way for a long time whether I ask for it or not. Love you mom and dad!
  10. Your account has only a couple of tweets but you’re following several hundred (or thousand) people and are slowly collecting followers (aka disproportionate follow/followers ratio). Chances are you’re a bot or a company planning on spamming people. (Thanks to @plasticmadness for this rule. She’s someone I follow on Twitter.)
  11. You follow a hit-and-run policy where you follow a ton of people, collect followers, and then unfollow everyone following at some later point to make yourself look like a popular celeb with a very high follow/followers ratio.


Once followed, I will unfollow you if:

  1. You violate any of the rules above.
  2. You send me an automatic direct message (DM) with some prefabricated message. I really appreciate personal DMs meant to be sent ‘directly’ to me (hence the name). Building a professional relationship goes a long way in my book and will likely result in me reading your tweets more often.
  3. You attempt to use my name and/or likeness to endorse your product, project, or anything else without my written permission. Doing this will probably also result in a sternly worded letter from my lawyer so don’t do it.
  4. Or for any other reason not listed here.

Other Policies & Disclaimers

  1. I am not your doctor. Do not write me seeking medical advice. Please see your personal doctor for any and all medical advice.
  2. Contact with me in any form is under the explicit understanding that no doctor-patient relationship exists and none will be formed.
  3. A blog post, comment, Twitter status, or any contribution by me on the web is not a replacement for a doctor visit in person. If it is a medical emergency then please call the designated emergency services system in your country.
  4. My blog posts and Twitter status updates are not medical, legal, ethical, financial, moral, political, or any other form of advice, suggestion, or recommendation.
  5. My opinions are fluid and I have the right to change my position as my knowledge and experiences dictate.
  6. I reserve the right to alter or delete any content I have published, owned, or have authored for any reason.
  7. I reserve the right to not approve or delete any communication directed to me on the various social media profiles, blogs, websites, etc. that I control for any reason.
  8. I reserve the right to delete any Twitter status updates for any reason. Most common reasons include but are not limited to: old replies, non-medicine related replies, incorrect or unverified articles/links, etc.
  9. I reserve the right to ignore any contact through any means (Blog, Twitter, Email, IM, etc). Most common reasons include but are not limited to: unwanted marketing, SPAM, hostile/aggressive/annoying behavior, unfamiliarity or lack of personal/professional relationship, etc.
  10. Following, contacting, or ‘friending’ people on any social media sites, blogs, etc. is not an endorsement by me of the message, opinions, beliefs, or mission of that person, group, or business.
  11. I have limited amounts of time to read everyone’s tweets on Twitter. I will always read my @ replies when I have time and do my best to reply where it is appropriate. If there something that needs my attention then please send me an @ reply or a DM. I can’t promise a response.
  12. I will disclose any/all endorsements. At this time there are none besides the Google AdSense ads displayed on this blog. I do not control the content of the ads.

If your account made it through all those rules but I’m still having trouble figuring out your account’s purpose then I may choose to wait 7 or more days to refollow you. The reason for this is most automated following tools usually auto-unfollow non-followers after 7 days. If I made an error in judgement and you’re the real deal then send me an @ reply so I can follow you.

My only other tip to people contacting me to discuss ideas, research, issues, politics, policies, or any specific topic is that you have sound material from recognized and respected sources to support any provocative positions you may take. I’m always open to learning and appreciate constructive criticism especially when there is research to support it but I have little tolerance for those who aren’t trying to better themselves for their own good or the good of their fellow human beings. Ideally blocking should only be used as a last resort to deal with people consistently violating norms of interpersonal conduct.

My hope is that my participation in the social web and Twitter specifically remains a useful tool to network, share information, and build a community with people I may not know very well. Again my thanks to @RayBeckerman for providing many of the rules above. Go follow him if for no other reason than to learn how to use social media correctly. Many of the Twitter users I follow are absolutely great people. I’ll eventually come up with a list of them and call it a TwitterRoll (much like blog rolls of yesteryear). If you’re inclined to see my Twitter page then here is the address: @hrana. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Comments

8 Responses to “My Twitter Refollow Policy & Other Odds and Ends”

  1. Beryl on October 11th, 2009 6:36 pm

    Hello! That is a very detailed policy, I hope I don’t break any of the rules. :) I noticed you were following me on Twitter and decided to visit the link to your blog. Thanks for the follow! Nice blog too.

  2. Hisham on October 15th, 2009 2:50 pm

    @Beryl: I appreciate the feedback but I have a feel that most rational people won’t break my publicized rules of conduct. To be fair, they do come off quite serious. Thank you for the feedback and I look forward to reading your Tweets.

  3. Yadu Singh on December 5th, 2009 7:06 am

    Liked the rules you have outlined. Nice write-up indeed. South Asians or no South Asians, people would be sick of the tweets, trying to sell something,pushing adult contents or trying to pose as some sort of a Guru. I know, I get mightly annoyed with such tweets. We have exchanged few tweets but disagreed on the topic. India and Pakistan need to learn to live together in peace.This is what our people deserve.

  4. Sarah Stewart on January 8th, 2010 5:55 pm

    Crikey, I shall take it as a real honor if you follow me LOL

  5. Lisa Fields on January 8th, 2011 4:17 am

    When we make a serious attempt to be as clear as possible in our personal and professional life we have a better chance of a solid relationship. Period.

    Thank you for your clear standards. I will contact you for permission but I’d like to develop my own Twitter policy as use yours as a possible templet. That is after I finish my next tweeter, or perhaps after the next one,ect…..

    Cheers

  6. Hisham on January 23rd, 2011 3:59 pm

    @Bud: Sure, feel free to use it. If it’s possible, do shoot me a link to your policy so I can tighten up mine. I’m a big fan of collaboration.

  7. Noelle Park on December 13th, 2011 9:00 am

    Hi Dr. Rana,
    What a wonderfully clear & detailed policy! Thank you for tweeting :)

  8. Hisham on December 14th, 2011 6:07 pm

    @Noelle Park: My pleasure. Thanks for the feedback!

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