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Four criteria for fine-tuning whom I follow on Twitter

Four criteria for fine-tuning whom I follow on Twitter

I’ve been aware for a while that I am following rather a lot of people on Twitter, so today I decided to rationalise that.

I could do it on an ongoing basis, but I’d never know if I was finished. So, I decided to review the list of those I followed in one go. There was a good reason for following them originally. But did that reason still apply?

I used Tweeter Karma to thin out my followers, based on a combination of reasons. Here are the reasons I stopped following about 300 people this afternoon.

I share them in the hope that they explain what your charity might do to ensure that it stays followed on Twitter by as many people as possible.

1. Pictures are worth a thousand tweets

Tweeter Karma displays all those following you and whom you follow, including their icon. The first cut was made on the basis of this icon or avatar. If you or your organisation are still using (in mid 2011) a default Twitter icon then I’m going to make the assumption that you’re not too committed to this as a useful channel. Farewell!

I recognise that some people have privacy concerns and they may choose not to display their own photo on their personal account. That’s fine, but try substituting an image that means something or somes up what you tweet about or are interested in.

2. When did you last post on Twitter?

You should only post if you’ve got something useful to say, so the recency of your last tweet is not a reliable indicator of your value, if you are simply prolix in your uttering.

But if you’ve not tweeted in over a month, then again I assumed you’re probably not worth following.

Tweeter Karma makes it very easy to see who tweeted most recently. I discovered I was following over two dozen people and organisations who hadn’t tweeted in the past 12 months.

Funnily enough, I kept a few on my list, simply because I value who they are and hope one day they may rediscover Twitter. The rest however were deleted.

3. Following back

Twitter is different to Facebook. You don’t necessarily have to follow someone back, and that’s a good approach.

But it’s useful to see who amongst those you follow does follow you back. I found a lot of people didn’t do so. In the end I deleted maybe a quarter of those, on the grounds that I wasn’t getting quite so much value out of them as I did originally.

4. What’s in a name?

Throughout this culling process I took note of Twitter account names. Tweeter Karma presents just that account name, not any real or full name that you might associate with the account.

As a result, plenty were clear about who they were or represented. On the other hand, many were fairly obscure. This was more often the case with individuals who used a nickname or nom de plume. But it did apply to quite a few companies and charities, especially those with acronyms.

If I couldn’t work out who this was and they had tripped one of the above reasons for culling, I didn’t spend too long exploring their account, and they were removed from my list.

How to stay connected

This was a useful process for me, to help me ensure that I was getting the most out of Twitter and the people I follow and communicate with using the tool.

But the process was informative in another way: it reminded me to question how I come across – and how any Twitter user comes across.

So, my check list for staying connected is:

1. Choose and use a clear logo or image for your avatar or icon

2. Choose and use an easy to understand name for your Twitter account

3. Tweet fairly frequently.

4. Do follow back some people who follow you.

None of that is likely to be news to too many, but it might be useful to be reminded of that, given that I now follow 300 fewer people and organisations than I did an hour ago.

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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