by Pam Baker, veteran journalist and business consultant
There's lots of brouhaha over intimacy on Twitter. The crowdsource wisdom goes that one should follow only a few in order to establish more meaningful relationships. But for me, that's pure poppycock.
I use Twitter to find sources for my news articles, features and cover stories in a wide variety of national and international publications -- both online and in print. Following only a handful of people on Twitter will not cue me to emerging trends and hot topics. By the time something makes it to hashtag notoriety, the topic has already crested. I want the story BEFORE it crests.
A handful of followers are not enough to feed me the broad view -- or enough insight -- into any given topic. I need lots of input from many different people in order to write meaningful and useful stories. Therefore, the number of Twitter followers, and the number I follow, DO matter to me.
Yes, I understand the importance of listening. Believe me, I'm listening hard. That's how I know what subjects people are concerned about and what they want to read about. I also answer and participate -- but in many conversations, not just a few. Are these conversations intimate? Mostly, no. But they are genuine and personal and more often than not they are included in one of my articles which most of my followers find valuable to their business (either in the exposure or in the new information gleaned from the article).
My good friend, and uber blogger, Seth Simonds would obviously disagree. Last night, he ditched some 45,000 people he was following on Twitter. Today, he is painstakingly moving through each of them to hand-pick those he truly wants to follow and thereby better the conversations and the value to both follower and followee. That works for him and I salute him for his courage in using Twitter in the precise manner that holds meaning for him -- and Twitterville reaction be damned.
Twitter is a tool. Use it as it makes sense to you and your business, otherwise why are you on Twitter? If it's just to follow crowd-think you're missing the boat in both directions.