The You, the Me, and the We – How I’m Changing How I Use Twitter

Sad PuppyI accidentally unfollowed all my followers.

I was testing out the unfollow all feature on my site, SocialToo.com, and just happened to hit the “delete all friends” button by mistake without realizing it. For that, I apologize.  I learned something valuable from it though – out of the 23,000 people I unfollowed on accident, I was very surprised at the number of people that have auto-unfollow on by default.  About 6,000 to be exact.  So out of the 23,000 people following me 1/4th of those probably still have no clue I unfollowed them – 6,000 people following me had a meaningless relationship with me!

There’s more though – I post a lot of links to my profile.  A lot of those promote other people.  Some promote blog posts I write.  In general, for the blog posts I write, I generally only get about 20-50 of you on Twitter that actually click on the links!  That’s a depressing number coming from a follower base of 23,000 people.

This got me thinking about how I can build stronger relationships with the people I follow.  How do I get people to add me to their whitelist?  How can I get to know you better, and how can I get you to know me better at the same time? Twitter is very difficult to nurture this type of relationship – it was built as a broadcasting platform that happened to evolve to become a communications and is trying to be a relationships platform.  It also degraded to the point that most of the people that follow you now aren’t even real people! I would venture to say that a good portion (1/4th?) of Twitter’s populace are there with the sole intent to gain a larger follower base.

This isn’t why I use Twitter. I came here to share something.  I came here to learn something from others. The connections we gain from learning from each other are what matter to me. Some times we entertain each other.  Some times we teach each other.  I’m here to strengthen others’ knowledge and learn from others at the same time, not inflate a number for anyone, especially myself. IMO the whole “numbers thing” should happen naturally.  That’s how we engage.  That’s how we build real relationships – that’s what true marketing is, or should be about.

So starting today I’m starting something new with my Twitter account.  I want to strengthen my relationships with each and every one of you.  I want to build a community, and I’m starting with Twitter.

Starting today I’m now using 3 Twitter accounts.  The first one, which you are already familiar with, @Jesse, is about me.  The second one, which I’m starting today, @JessesLinks, is about YOU.  The third one, @JesseStay, is where the community happens – it’s about WE.  Here’s a little more explanation:

@Jesse

This account is about me.  It’s not your typical Twitter “me” account any more.  Starting today, I’m only posting content here.  Pure content – no links, no replies.  Just 140 character morsels of knowledge as I feel like sharing.  Its intent is to be informative, entertaining, and educational.  I may also share a link to a blog post or two of my own where I feel I need to elaborate.  I won’t be replying to anyone publicly on this account any more.  I won’t be auto following at the moment. The purpose of this account is pure content, for those that want to consume it.  This is a public account for all to see and follow.

@JessesLinks

This account is about YOU. This is where I share your stuff.  If you have something cool you want to share with me, let me know there.  I may retweet a few good Tweets here.  I’ll even auto follow on this account.  While I won’t be @replying to anyone publicly on this account, this is where I get to share your content. Maybe I’ll do a couple #followfridays to promote specific people as well.  You can DM me here.  This is a public account about you – those that follow this account will learn more about other people and the content they share.

@JesseStay

This is actually my old account – I thought I’d put it to good use.  This account is all about US. Those that request access to this account will be followed rigorously by me.  Depending on how big it gets I may even follow your updates via SMS to ensure I get them.  This will become my “favorites list”.  I’ll actively interact with you through this account.  I’ll respond to your tweets.  I’ll import all the best posts from @Jesse and @JessesLinks here.  I’m going to manually (yes, manually) follow every person that is real and requests access to this account.  This is where I want to build true relationships.

I want to try a little experiment with this account though.  I’m going to make it private. This is so our conversation remains intimate.  This is also so you have to do a little something to join the community.  It makes each person in the community a little more real.  As I said earlier, I plan to follow every real person that requests access to this community.  There’s one caveat though – I’m going to ask each individual that joins this community to introduce themselves.  I want you and me to get to know each other better. I want all of us to get to know each other better through this community.

If you have to pick one account to follow I would recommend joining the @JesseStay community. This is where I want to empower relationships between us.  This is where I want our conversation to become one-on-one, and real.  Will you join me here?

This is all just an experiment for now.  I’m curious if I might be able to strengthen the relationships of those that follow me through this method.  I want to build real-life relationships with each of you – let’s work to do this together.  Maybe I’ll post a follow up later on how it all goes.

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

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45 thoughts on “The You, the Me, and the We – How I’m Changing How I Use Twitter

  1. Jesse – I think it's great that you've made the jump. I'm considering it as well. Following more than a few hundred people isn't sustainable anyway – it's exhausting jumping through hurdles to just to keep up with the people you care about. Eventually (and this is just my experience) you start losing your existing relationships by spreading yourself too thin. I think that going back to engaging people individually (treating them as goldfish, rather than schools of fish) makes the entire experience more meaningful and powerful – it's better to know 100 people well and engage them often than to broadcast to 10K and “catch up” with your true friends every few weeks. Thoughts?

    Like

  2. Holden, I'm going to try Tweetdeck for posting. I can already do most of it
    with the existing tools I have though. I plan to automate as much as
    possible to the extent I can still keep the conversation real and personal.
    It will be an interesting experiment – I'm still not sure how it will all
    work.

    Like

  3. Steffan, there is still power in following everyone who follows you. I'm
    just trying to make it more personal where it counts. I'll be doing
    auto-follow on the @jesseslinks account, for instance. I'll be manually
    following everyone on the @JesseStay account. Each user has their own
    purposes and uses, which is why auto-follow's only one feature we provide on
    SocialToo. The whole idea of social media is there is always more than one
    way to do it. I'm hoping I can build a nice community using these
    techniques, but even I am not sure what will happen.

    Like

  4. Interesting way of doing things Jesse, please share how the experiment works out for you as the weeks / months go on.

    By the way, love the photo of the Boston pup! Dang cute dogs!

    Doc

    Like

  5. I like the basis of your experiment Jesse. All of 'this' (this being the web and social media and connecting and all the rest of it) is supposed to be about connecting with other human beings in the first place. But I often feel like the initial intent is getting lost as each grows. Count me in!

    Like

  6. ya know jesse, in a few weeks, it might not even matter that you put the kibosh on your twitter peeps. rumor has it that google wave is going to be a game changer. knowing that the same bros. who brought us google maps are the genius behind google Wave, I think we're all in for a nice ride when it comes to real-time collaboration, sharing time phased events et al. the demo i watched a few weeks ago looked VERY appealing!

    Like

  7. it's hard to change the way people behave ime, twitter is kind of like a billboard you have to up your game in order to gain people's attention so you can cut through all of the noise but once people show interest you should move them to your facebook fan page or email list as quickly as possible, facebook has more tools for relationship building me thinks 🙂 twitter(at)locspoc

    Like

  8. Just to be clear, I'm not putting the kibosh on my Twitter peeps. I'm
    actually making it easier for them to communicate with me now.
    Regarding Wave, we'll see – I'm in the developer sandbox, and it seems to me
    like more of a private means of communication. We'll see if it ends up
    being a competitor with Twitter or not – I don't see it as such.

    Like

  9. Yeah I've noticed a lot of people follow to get followers. I must be old fashioned. I follow those who interest me or is something I feel a worthy cause and figure the ones who keep following me do it for much the same. I want quality more than quantity.

    Like

  10. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do here.
    Will be talking to you about this in Vegas – but this post shines a light on some stuff I think is highly important.
    Now if only I could figure out how to manage it myself…

    Like

  11. Lucretia, agreed – these actions are only the beginning. I'm still trying
    to figure out the best option as well. Our panel at BlogWorld has also
    inspired some of my thinking on all this. Looking forward to talking to you
    there – we're going up against Robert Scoble, Chris Pirillo, and Louis Gray,
    so we need to do what we can to fill up our room! 🙂

    Like

  12. Why My Twitter Account is Brand New – and What it Means for You…

    var fbShare = {url: '', title: ''} I’m no stranger to changing Twitter strategies.
    The last big shift occurred in April 2009 when I opted to automatically follow every person and organization who followed me, creating an identical match of nu…

    Like

  13. Thanks Michael. I could have re-enabled auto-follow which would have fixed
    it eventually (1,000 people a day), but rather than do that I thought it
    made sense re-evaluating my strategy on Twitter.

    Like

  14. I just love your attitude, and your approach to solving problems. It's nice that one account is meant only for helping others as well. Did you really get followed by twenty girls at once? Maybe they're not spammers,even though common sense suggests they are!

    Like

  15. They all had similar photos, no updates, and things like “I'm a 21 year old
    lonely single girl looking for guys”. Totally serious. This after only
    starting a private account.

    Like

  16. This is a really interesting post in that you're amongst the first who has really questioned what their followers number means. I always say that networking — any type, including using Twitter — is a means to an end, not an aim in itself. You can't bank Twitter followers and it means nothing if you have 20,000 who don't interact with you. Really, I'd rather have 100 in total and have every one of them click every link I post.

    We're adding Twitter followers import to our Social CRM system soon to make it easy for you to compare your Twitter contacts with contacts you have on other sites or know through email, so you can consolidate all information about a specific contact within just one customer record. We're hoping this helps people to see the value of their followers lists and get real detail behind the people who you interact with on more than one platform. It will also give alternateive ways of contacting them using the additional profile information we grab.

    We're developing this because I need it, but I hope it's of use to others.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ
    http://www.wecando.biz

    Like

  17. Thanks Ian. Social Graph import/consolidation is needed – Facebook is trying
    to enable that via Facebook Connect and Google is trying to do that with
    their Friend Connect, but until they both agree it will be tough to do with
    just one or the other. If you like this topic you should come to my panel at
    BlogWorld Expo this year – we're talking about this very thing – I call it
    the “Twitter Game”, and we'll be talking about why numbers don't mean much.

    Like

  18. Wouldn't the recently announced “Twitter List function” accomplish what you are doing with 3 separate accounts? I am thinking it is pretty close?

    Like

  19. Jesse I like your epiphany of sorts, but it's going to be hell managing three Twitter accounts. I tried something like this before and it did not last long. It's simply to much work. I'm curious to see how this works out for you. Keep us posted.

    Mike

    Like

  20. Hi Jesse, I'm really interested in your experiment. My goal with social media has always been to build relationships, have conversations and be of service to others. I was an early adopter of Twitter and as the platform has evolved it is harder to truly connect. I have had to add filters and automation to some of the tasks and weed out the bots and spammers. I just followed you on all of your accounts and look forward to connecting and conversing.

    Like

  21. Hi Jesse, I'm really interested in your experiment. My goal with social media has always been to build relationships, have conversations and be of service to others. I was an early adopter of Twitter and as the platform has evolved it is harder to truly connect. I have had to add filters and automation to some of the tasks and weed out the bots and spammers. I just followed you on all of your accounts and look forward to connecting and conversing.

    Like

  22. Hi Jesse, I'm really interested in your experiment. My goal with social media has always been to build relationships, have conversations and be of service to others. I was an early adopter of Twitter and as the platform has evolved it is harder to truly connect. I have had to add filters and automation to some of the tasks and weed out the bots and spammers. I just followed you on all of your accounts and look forward to connecting and conversing.

    Like

  23. Hi Jesse, I'm really interested in your experiment. My goal with social media has always been to build relationships, have conversations and be of service to others. I was an early adopter of Twitter and as the platform has evolved it is harder to truly connect. I have had to add filters and automation to some of the tasks and weed out the bots and spammers. I just followed you on all of your accounts and look forward to connecting and conversing.

    Like

  24. it's hard to change the way people behave ime, twitter is kind of like a billboard you have to up your game in order to gain people's attention so you can cut through all of the noise but once people show interest you should move them to your facebook fan page or email list as quickly as possible, facebook has more tools for relationship building me thinks 🙂 twitter(at)locspoc

    Like

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