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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

8 Tips for Quickly Evaluating Twitter Accounts

To Follow Or Not To Follow, That Is The Question

Now that I've been doing this Twitter thing for a while, I'm able to do quickly what used to take me forever. I thought I'd share a few tips on how to evaluate different peeps on Twitter just by taking a quick look at their profile. The profile gives you a lot of information if you know what to look for. Here's my mental checklist for when I'm deciding whether or not to follow someone.

1. Do they have a picture/avatar or are they using a default Twitter one? In my opinion, if someone doesn't put up a picture, any kind of picture, that's a red flag. It's easy to put up a picture, so either they're very new or not serious about Twitter. I want to see a picture. No picture = 1 Anti-point.

2. Do they have a bio? Anything in the bio? No bio = yellow flag = 2 Anti-points. This means they're either A) very new B) not serious about Twitter or C) they are a nefarious entity who doesn't want to tell you about themselves because they'll scare you off if they do.

3. What's in the bio? A lot of swear words, obvious porn, or obvious hard sales tactics like "I'm going to help you make money fast" = 3 Anti-points and a red flag.

4. Do they have a custom background? Again, this is real easy to do, and you can do it for free. I used these guys. No custom background is like #1: very new or not serious. 1/2 Anti-point.

5. Do they have any tweets in their stream? This is what the number of tweets tells you. Zero tweets means they have nothing to say or are very very very new. Zero tweets is a red flag = 3 Anti-points. I don't mind if they follow me, but I don't follow people who don't say anything.

6. What about very few tweets? Sometimes you see an account that has maybe 5 tweets and 1000 followers. What's wrong with that picture? Did they say such brilliant things in 5 tweets that they attracted 1000 followers? I think not. Most likely they bought their followers. Red flag = 3 Anti-points. I don't follow these accounts; they look hinky.

7. They are following more people than are following them. This is a good sign to me because it indicates that there's a good chance they will follow me back. Green flag and +1 point.

8. They have many more followers than people they are following. Yellow flag and 2 Anti-points. This is how I view it: if they follow me first, I will follow back. If they have not followed me first, then I won't follow them because I know it's unlikely they will follow me back. I follow very few people who don't follow back, about 50 out of close to 4000 or about 1%. This is a personal choice, but to me it's like having a friend that won't let you get a word in. I don't want to listen to people who don't want to listen to me. It's that simple. I'm on Twitter to interact with people and have fun.

So who do you recommend following even if they don't follow back? Well, people are on Twitter for different reasons, and it's a personal choice. I don't follow movie/TV stars because I don't care what Tori Spelling wore to take her kids to school. A few I recommend are @TweetSmarter because you'll learn more from them about Twitter than from anyone else, @GuyKawasaki because he has a continuous stream of varied treasures, and @MrsStephenFry and @BorowitzReport because they're just plain funny. I follow @MikkoHypponen who is a computer virus and hacking expert, and @Mashable is *the* account to follow for up-to-date tech news.

So you see that with practice, you can tell a lot about a Twitter presence with quick look at the account. I add up the points or Anti-points, and 3 or more Anti-points is an automatic no follow. Less that 3 Anti-points and I will have to think about it some more.

As always, I like to give credit where credit is due. Special thanks to @Agrevet who helped me get off the ground; and @KeithBorgnet who has been an enormous help to me on Twitter and is an all-around nice guy. Thanks to @janfromholland @veritable_virgo @detaildevils @cupboards @dogstoyevsky @harryporker who missed me while I was away from Twitter and noticed when I came back. And a quick mention to @Traddski who is brand new but learning fast!

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  • Thanks for the shout-out and glad you're back!

    By Blogger Nick @ Cupboards, At June 15, 2011 at 5:20 AM  

  • Thanks for the mention, my dear. I just finished reading this post and believe it or not I LEARNED SOMETHING about Twitter. I feel very much the same about being selective in the WHO TO FOLLOW process. Thanks for this information. Hopefully it will prove useful to many others. :-)

    By Blogger VERITABLE VIRGO, At June 15, 2011 at 6:55 AM  

  • This comment is from @Traddski found at http://twitter.com/#!/Traddski who didn't have one of the profiles necessary to leave a comment himself:

    "A very informative blog and I shall be using the 'points' system from now on, it is a great way of separating the wheat from the chaff. I am so glad I met you Cynthia, you changed my whole experience of Twitter!. :)"

    Thanks Tradd for the kind words. Flattery will get you everywhere. ;o)

    By Blogger Cynthia White, At June 15, 2011 at 7:41 AM  

  • Hi Cynthia Thanks for the shout out - great post too. I do a quick look at their twitter profile using the "new" twitter and mentally do all that you do in 2 seconds. Rarely have time to look deeper at their profile, but it's always nice to talk with REAL people.

    Good to have you back

    By Blogger Maralyn, At June 15, 2011 at 5:59 PM  

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