In honor of our 1-year anniversary (March 30, 2009) of interacting on Twitter I thought I’d examine the stages of following that we’ve gone through, and our follow philosophy. If you aren’t on Twitter this information will have no value to you, but if you are perhaps it will help you form your own philosophy on following, or strategy on how to manage information overload.


We followed anyone we knew, or who came to our attention through top lists or other posts, or who followed us. We were very excited whenever someone followed us, and a bit nervous as to whether we were saying something of value so that they would keep on listening. We were able to listen to everything that each of our followers had to say. We were able to read the bios, last few tweets and visit the website of everyone before following them back. And, we followed everyone back unless they appeared to be a porn or spam suspect. During this stage we found some great people to follow who continue to inform us on new trends and technology platforms.


We were following enough people that we couldn’t read all of their tweets and had information overload. We wondered, how do you sort through all of this? So we started being more selective in whom we followed back. We only followed back if that person had said something recently that was of specific interest to us. We probably missed out on a few good people here.

Interactor & Realist

We started responding to people via direct message, and having conversations. We realized that there is a perceived value to the number of followers that you have and that following back is a gesture of thanks for the follow. And, around this time Twitter came out with lists. We also discovered TweetDeck (and a few other Twitter tools). Now we could go back to our philosophy of following everyone who found us interesting enough to follow (except suspect spam and porn accounts) and organize the information in a way to sort through it. We do not read every tweet from every person that we follow, but we do read most tweets from people on our lists, and we check the main stream and add people we find interesting to lists as they say something of interest to us.

We discovered that there were some spammers who slipped through the cracks. These people would follow us, not because they were interested in what we had to say but with the hope that we would follow us back. Then when we did, they would unfollow us. Not nice. So, we found some tools to clean up our lists every week or so. We unfollow and block those folks.

We have attended conferences, webinars and made new connections through those. Hash tags provide a great tool for following conversations and learning from others who have similar interests. It also enables you to revisit a conversation and continue it after the fact.

We’ve shared our knowledge, and gained new knowledge. We’ve also garnered some other random information. I have a new taco recipe that I am looking forward to trying out thanks to a conversation with a fellow tweep.

What will the next stage of our Twitter experience be? What are your thoughts? Have you dealt with following differently? Leave us a comment or let us know at



User Generated Content (UGC) is content that someone outside of your company generates. It is likely generated about your brand whether or not you are aware of it. It is authentic, using keywords that the consumer uses. So why not provide a forum on your website for it and let your users help improve and market your business?

UGC has many benefits:

  • Rich keywords for SEO that your marketing department may not have thought of
  • Additional and fresh content for SEO
  • A reason for users to drive traffic to your site
  • Community development and participation chain extension: Users who contribute content to your site have an investment and are more engaged
  • Reduction in customer support/ service calls and expenses
  • Product development. If you can create an engaged community of users, they can help you improve and develop products.

Types of UGC that can be incorporated into your site:

  • Blog comments and conversations
  • Twitter/ Facebook streams
  • Ratings & Reviews
  • Forums (Ask & Answer type platforms)
  • Wishlists
  • Photo & Video Galleries
  • Polls & Surveys
  • “Like” buttons

A great recent example I witnessed of using a blog (and Twitter) to create UGC and engagement was from someone I follow on Twitter, social media strategist Danny Brown. Danny sent out a tweet inviting his followers to shamelessly promote their blog. I hadn’t read Danny’s blog until he gave me this opportunity. He gained a new follower (probably many) out of the invitation. He introduced his community to each other’s interests and blogs. He drove traffic (and links—key for SEO) to his site and created conversations (172 comments to date) with people. You can see this example at