Twitter is constantly changing, evolving, and growing based upon how the community uses it. There are plenty of opinions to be found on how it should be used as well.
Auto-follow and Direct messaging Etiquette:
Mari Smith shares why she chooses to auto-follow, but not to direct message. The initial hand picked group that you wish to follow can be a way to find great people while avoiding spam bots. Once you’ve reached a certain volume of people following you, you may find it overwhelming to keep up with following them back.
Direct messaging can be handled in a few ways. Many take the stance that no automatic welcome direct message is appropriate as too many people have abused this policy by sending links to get their free ebook or other self-promotional items. Some feel a welcome message that asks others a question is great. And some, just block all the DMs using services like Jesse Stay’s SocialToo or Tweetlater. Both services are great for filtering services, and Tweetlater still allows you to send an automatic welcome direct message. Use caution on your approach and what it says about you.
My opinion – autofollow and a welcome message that invites others to strike up conversation and connect further. As Bob Burg has taught me, be more interested in them by asking them questions about themselves. I currently am asking questions in my automated follow, and giving a link to my online profile of all my social network accounts at http://ClickToAdd.Me/CourtneyEngle.
Should you follow everyone that follows you?
Robert Scoble feels that it is worthwhile. However, there is no realistic expectation to read every single tweet. He values following everyone that follows him, but filtering through the noise using Tweetdeck.& Friendfeed’s search features.
To maximize your time in Tweetdeck, see this guide from Richard Barley: All your TweetDeck Questions Answered
Randy Gage, on the other hand, is much more selective about who and why he follows some individuals. He wants to have a more personal connection and not be overwhelmed in content that isn’t beneficial.
My choice: follow most everyone that follows me. I use Tweetlater to accomplish this. I unfollow those that unfollow me automatically as well. My reason – I sort through those that I specifically want to read into columns in Tweetdeck. I connect with others when I see general chat, quotes to forward, or links to share and respond to. This is how I choose to connect in Twitter, and it works for me. I want to connect with others, but know that I don’t need to always chat constantly with you. When either of us have something to share or connect about, we will interact. This method has led me into two recent large business ventures, a few great recomendations for activities, and reconnecting with long lost friends. Eventually we move a meaningful connection beyond Twitter to the phone or other networks and instant messaging clients.
What will you Tweet about?
Twitter is like being at a business mixer, cocktail party, and school dance all at the same time. You can connect with friends and chat. We want to see some of that. You can create business connections and ask how to refer business to each other. You can share quotes, repeat or retweet each others messages, and you can share links. But, please don’t be the wallflower at the 8th grade dance that just watches everyone else having fun. Join in. You have value to offer to the network you are building. Share what matters to you, professional and off-the-clock work.