Twitter, Stay vertical-Stay relevant


OK before I go any further you can find the video of what I’m about to write here, on Seesmic and also know that this vlog supported blog post was inspired by Beth Harte, who got the ball rolling with her vlog. Beth has about as fresh a perspective of all things marketing and social media marketing related, as anyone could have right now and I strongly suggest you add her blog to your reader.

With that being said,  I want you to tell me your process for how you utilize Twitter and how you decide who you follow, and who follows you.

Before I jump in, answer me this: Why did you sign up for Twitter? I’ll tweet this. but I’m curious. Ok I digress.

Here’s my Twitter process: I go through the email alerts and click on the persons name.1) I then look at their number of followers,  2) the number of people they are following, and 3) the number of tweets. 4) I then look at their Bio. and the link on the Bio. 5) I need to determine why this person is choosing to follow me. What is the reason? 6) Are they wanting me to look at their website. 7) Are they promoting something 8) Are they just following as many people as possible 9) Do they even care what I have to say? and 10) Do they bring value? 11) Do they offer value? 12) what kind of tweet quality do they have? 13) How often do they tweet? 14) Are they even in my space?  15) Are they vertical enough?

Once I ask myself these questions then it’s fairly easy to decide whether this is a relationship I want to take to the next level. You see, at the end of the day, I want us to be able to share, and learn from each other. I want you to share something with me that I previously did not know. And I want to do the same for you. I want it to be mutually satisfying for both of us. I know this sounds like we’re dating but I want it to make us both better at what we do. As with all other social media tools, it’s a 2 way street of communication. It’s a dialogue not a monologue, and I value as much from what I learn from the people that I follow, as to what I give them in return. Value begets Value.

So… are you using Twitter the right way?

15 thoughts on “Twitter, Stay vertical-Stay relevant

  1. At the end of the day, Marc, I also want to learn. And while your 15 steps make sense, I feel you’re inhibiting yourself.

    For starters, I don’t limit myself to people in my “vertical” of social media, e.g. marketing, advertising, PR, and technology. I don’t limit myself to following those who follow me. And I rarely care why they choose to follow me.

    I follow real estate agents, doctors, ministers, corporate managers, college students. I listen to any buzz; if they are on Twitter, they are an early adopter and they are contributing something.

    Like you, I look at number of followers/followees, and number of updates. But I don’t cross someone if their numbers are low. I look at their bio. I see their recent messages. I look at the number of messages in reply to other people vs to nobody. I look at the people they are replying to, if I recognize any names.

    I rarely click their URL links.

    And I spend no more than 10 seconds evaluating the “why” of a person’s value to me – before clicking the follow button.

  2. @Ari, I’ve rethought this but I still think I’d like to follow people who make sense in my space- as far as who follows me, I’ll let anyone. I’m not sure I have enough time to follow other verticals like they deserve though.. I’s interesting to see people Twitter follow habits though.

  3. I have a problem with the question “Are you using Twitter the RIGHT way?” There truly is no single right way, I have come to believe. Ari makes excellent points, and I don’t just say that because he’s my Twitter friend, but because I have a similar approach to choosing who to follow. (Except I usually do click on the url’s out of curiosity.) But Guy Kawasaki made an excellent argument for achieving huge numbers of followers on Twitter, that really has me reconsidering my approach. You can read it at

    It is his opening paragraph that speaks to me the most… he was in a remote place, needed a power adapter of all things, and within ONE HOUR he had the adapter. Now, with my 800-someodd number of followers, I might get a lot of offers that could never pan out because they weren’t anywhere near me. In Guy’s case, with more than 20,000 he had five legitimate offers to help. That kind of Twitter use is a different paradigm than the one most of us are in. We build relationships, one to five or ten followers at a time, most of whom have something in common with us. Neither approach is right or wrong, and contrary to popular belief, I see a use for mostly-announcement accounts. It’s definitely an interesting discussion, and one that many people are having these days.


  4. @Kris When I said using twitter the “right” way, I meant to say the proper way- or with the best outcome desired. The thing is, I have seen the numerous ways that people are using it “the wrong” way. And I’ve seen the way people use it as a vehicle for self promotion or as a way to keep score but the bottom line is I’m interested in relationships, preferably ones in my space-once that help me learn. I don’t have time for relationships in every social circle under the sun. That’s not to say that my followers are soley from the social media, marketing and pr space, because they are not but I prefer to have the bulk of them in those sectors. I understand completely what you are saying kris, I’m just trying to apply some sense to a very random social networking platform.

  5. it all goes down to the reason you are in twitter and what you are trying to get out of it. if the person following me offers nothing that i can see from their link and their ratio of @ messages vs posted, then it is not for me.

    i look to follow people that have something that would be interesting to the work i am doing, and i even block some people from following me if i cannot figure out why they are following me. sure, there is no harm – but then again, a conversation works two ways. if they cannot see what i say, they cannot engage me… and in some cases i am ok with that.

    i have limited time to allocate to twitter, and my purpose is very specific… if that changes tomorrow, if i have a different purpose, then i will evaluate my approach to tweeter and maybe change it.

    for now, it works. i am not saying it will work for everyone the same, but right now, today, it works for me.

  6. @Esteban I’m of the same mindset, i love dialogue’s and have no time for monologues unless I’m listening to a podcast. This is obviously a very heartfel subject for all involved. But I welcome your opinion.

  7. I have to agree with Ari.

    Going vertical is cutting off about 75% of your potential secondary areas of influence.

    I call it the “Tim Horton’s” mistake. For context, Tim Horton’s is the largest donut franchise in Canada, and their marketing people could not figure out why they were losing lunch crowds to the burger players, etc.

    Recognizing their “verticality” (if that is a word) in the coffee/donut sector, they introduced hosrizontal products lines to broaden their service delivery platform.

    Same here, though I suspect I wandered a little far there, need a coffee right now I guess :>)

    Twitter is an opportunity to find and solicit influential social networkers not only in your market sector, but in those that are adjacent to yours, and out from there in rings.

    An influential leader is an influential leader, whether he is an IM’s, or a military commander. If this leader influences a following of people that respect their thoughts, decisions, and actions, and it only makes sense not to sever oneself from them.

    Just my 2 cents, reduced by the exchange rate, of course :>)

    Ron Davies

  8. @Ron, I think it all depends on your Mo, or how you want to use Twitter. Do you want Twitter to use you? then go ahead and follow thousands and vice versa. Do you want to try and develop relationships? Then stay vertical and learn more about your space and the people that are in it. The long tail of twitter.

  9. Pingback: The Long Tail of Twitter « Direct Marketing Observations

  10. You are way kinder than I am Marc.

    I have a 3-step process.

    1. Do I actually know the person following me, either in real life or virtually (e.g. have we exchanged emails/blog comments or similar)? If yes, then I follow them back.

    2. Are they clearly a spammer with 2,000+ people they’re following and one tweet to a site that promotes Sexy Hot Russian Girls? If yes, then I block them.

    3. If I begin having fairly frequent @conversations with someone who is following me, to the point where I feel I know them, I will follow them back.

    That said, people use Twitter for very different reasons and get different things out of it. I use it to stay in touch with my friends and possibly make new ones. Others see it more as a business or promotional tool and for them having large numbers of followers is a plus.

    And of course there’s always TweetDeck 😉

  11. Looking at the responding comments, here’s a thought, Marc:

    Why do you view Twitter as a social networking platform? Why don’t you view it as an echo of quote-unquote reality? Twitter was partially developed after SMS technology between bike messengers and the home office as a means to improve communications. So, while it’s being branded as a social network, I’m increasingly being led to believe Twitter is much more — and may be the foundation of a new ecosystem of socio-technological culture.

    Thus, by limiting those you follow on Twitter would resemble the people you would have a beer with at a bar.

  12. Hi Marc,

    Like you, I don’t automatically follow. Before following someone on Twitter, a person needs to pass one simple test: Are you interesting? I don’t care what you had for lunch.

    I choose to follow people who are smart, make me think, and point me to other smart people and to interesting articles and blog posts.

    Also, FYI: I just wrote a blog post asking – how many followers are too many? The key to a smart Twitter strategy is conversation, value, and engagement.

    And, yes, @bethharte is one of the smart people.


  13. Good, thought-provoking discussion. Thanks for pointing me here via a reply to my Twitter question, Ari.
    I agree that it’s important to allow yourself the latitude to use Twitter as a discovery and learning tool as well as one for reality checks, collaboration and industry banter. Sometimes the most interesting tweets come from someone who wouldn’t normally be on my radar screen, within my social or business circle. Variety is, indeed, the spice of life, offline and online.
    I must admit, that sometimes I’m thoughtful about my decisions to follow or not to follow, but sometimes I just need to get through my e-mails and my decisions are not strategic, but really just functions of time and mood.
    I also find geographic location playing into my decisions: if someone is in my greater-DC metro area, they get an extra look. This is an interesting thing because on Twitter geography shouldn’t matter, but one of the reasons I use Twitter is to expand and enrich my business network.

  14. Do you have children? Would you impose rules on your toddler? Don’t put that in your mouth! Don’t stand up! Don’t learn hoe to walk! Your child would learn nothing. It would starve, never leave the house and de-evolve to death.
    Your rules are incredibly restrictive. I get your point. It is myopic and irresponsible.
    you are helping no one except to inflate your own sense of worth.

  15. Marc,
    I found this post while searching online for the twitter use. I just started using it, and I realized that will take a great deal of time to write and to follow people online. The way I am approaching it, us by narrowing it down to the verticals I am interested in. Of course, if I am at the starbucks in a Sunday morning, checking my email and the news, I might look at “everyone” posts , as I would like to learn more about the “world” out there. Your pints make sense though, and it’s definitely a good start. After a while, people will find their own way to interact with the twitter, and it’s community.
    Good job with the post, and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
    Eugen Ilie – VP Leadpile
    Twitter – vp_leadpile

Comments are closed.