Mass unfollowing on Twitter

I do not pretend to be the greatest expert on on-line social media, but I do have quite a lot of experience and I am a keen student. Twitter is a phenomenon I had not thought too much about a year ago, but it is an incredible experience in real time conversation as far as I am concerned. Of course I post some small ads and links to my websites and blogs, but there is a lot of chit-chat and banter; as I said, conversation going on.

The latest fashion seems to be seems to be mass unfollowing though, and I am completely mystified by the way some have gone about this. I understand why some mass unfollow spammers, those who add no value and some of those whom they have auto followed. I do it myself. However there are people who have been following significant numbers with similar numbers following who have simply dumped nearly all those they follow, down to only double figures. Where does that leave someone who has say twelve thousand followers and is following fifty or so? That is not a conversation, it is broadcasting, The only exchanges that will ensue will have to be with the faithful followers who will have to initiate the conversation and hope that the Great One will deign to reply. The followers cannot even use direct messages any more but have to depend on “@” comments.

Well, I have been unfollowed in this way by a few. That’s life. However I have to say that if a self-styled Twitter expert does this it causes confusion. I am not into humouring such eccentricities or into reading broadcasting material. I unfollow back. I might now and again choose to read the relevant blog which is broadcasting I have selected, but I will take the person as much less of an expert than I used to, because Twitter is about people and social intercourse. It is about networking and maintaining contacts. It is not about faith or following the Master; at least not for me.

© Jon Stow 2009

Enterprise and risk

I have been talking about risk recently in another context. I was a little dumbfounded yesterday when my Mum said she was told by a family member that she should not sign up to Facebook because there was a risk of identity fraud. Of course there is a small risk. I am indebted to @royatkinson for this link and it could be said that I and all of us who are active with profiles on-line run some risk, but what is life without risk?

The reality is that most small businesses which offer services of any kind and very many who are making and / or selling a product need an on-line presence, and what is more, need to engage with their network. In fact, you need to be on-line to get a network beyond a comparatively small number of friends, which is not enough people to refer you. I was just trying to list how many websites where I have a profile. In terms of business and social networks I have at least ten, and must have more I cannot think of at the moment. I have four blogs: two for business and two personal.

The point is that we have to give some of ourselves in order to be noticed. There are then several steps until we get to business. We need to enhance our reputations (or hope to) and be helpful and give useful information to others, but we need a public presence on-line to get known to further our businesses.

I think the contrast between me and our relative telling my mother not to sign up to Facebook is that I am in business on my own account. The relation has been in a large, safe, cocooned corporate environment for thirty years and is involved in IT security, and she clearly cannot see beyond the small risk to her employer (“more than my job’s worth to access Facebook at work”) to allowing my Mum to have a bit of fun making friends and signing up to her favourite jockey’s fan appreciation society.

There is no success in business without risk. If we are in the front line with our own businesses then we assess the risks and take them if necessary, looking at the likely though seldom certain outcome. It will be hard for those coming out of large corporates in the recession job losses, because they may be too risk-averse to start well in the freelance world. Those of us who have been round the block have learned to live with the risks, which reminds me that I will help my Mum sign up to Facebook next time I drop in.

© Jon Stow 2009