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What Your Twitter Numbers Say About You, part 2

by Marian Schembari on August 4, 2010

Tagging along from yesterday’s post, let’s talk about how to keep up with all those people you follow. My own Twitter strategy involves 10-15 minutes every morning responding to @ replies, retweeting articles I found the day before, writing my own stuff and scheduling it all so it looks like I’m on Twitter all day. Most days I slip up and will sign in for 5 minutes at a time, but it doesn’t consume my life.

How? Lists and HootSuite, baby.

Keep Up With Your Numbers

If you find it difficult to keep up with more than 100-odd people, then don’t follow more than that. Social media shouldn’t feel forced – us addicts can sniff out a fake from a mile away. Keep in mind though that unless you’re Beyonce, limiting the number of people you follow will limit the number of people who follow you.

I can tell you though that following over 1,000 people is incredibly overwhelming and you’ll never keep up with them all. That’s why I use HootSuite and obsessively made and followed lists to keep my followers in check. Take a look at my HootSuite dashboard (click to enlarge):

How to Organize

Here’s a screenshot of my HootSuite Publishing tab:

As you can see, the incredible Ron Hogan created these lists. I’m too lazy  to troll though all the authors ever, and Ron had them categorized by genre, so all I did was follow the list and add it as a tab. Easy peasy! Every so often I check out my publishing tab to see what these authors are up to. I don’t necessarily follow them all, but I do keep an eye on what they’re talking about.

So there are ways to make Twitter less overwhelming and my rule applies to everyone: Get organized. Create Twitter lists. Like I said, I personally like HootSuite, but that’s because my computer is a grandma and can’t handle a desktop download.

It’s hard to go through all your followers and start listing, so organize the people you engage with first. I have a list of all the people who I regularly talk to on Twitter. I have another list for people who comment on my blog. Start there and work your way out. Then, the next time you start following someone, see if they can fit into a list. Here’s a screenshot of my Blog tab. It includes columns of all the people I talk to regularly, clients, blog readers… This is my most important tab and you should create something similar to make sure you’re not missing info from those who engage with you the most:

Doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, organize people you’re following into groups. For example:

  1. People you “speak to” regularly
  2. Blogs/publications you read
  3. Hobbies
  4. Friends
  5. Social media people (we’re all following them!)

These are just some ideas to get you started. Many obsessive list makers think you should organize by the most basic categories, i.e. “authors”, “newspaper” and “agents”. While helpful, I’ve found it easier to organize people based on my relationship with them. Make sense?

The screenshots should help show you how I keep up-to-date with everyone I follow, not just those I see while I’m online in the morning.

Some Thoughts to Keep in Mind

If I see someone I might want to follow and they happen to be following very few people I think, “yeah, they’re never going to follow me back” so I don’t follow them at all. So while it is nice to look more important than you are, remember that Twitter is about relationships. It’s not about how many numbers of people are exposed to your message, but how many people care about that message at all.

The only reasons I would follow someone who doesn’t follow very many people is if the content they put out is so freaking fantastic I couldn’t possibly live without it. How many of us are actually doing that?

There is so much information out there on how to organize followers and how to save time and how to be productive, blah blah blah. But I wanted to give you the bare bones. HOWEVER, if you have specific questions I’m more than happy to address this in the comments section. Ready? Set? Go!

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