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Posted by Kate, February 17, 2012

Why follow people on Twitter? (another blog post about Twitter by a Twitter fan)

As @nosycrow, I follow over a thousand tweeters, and @nosycrowapps follows over two thousand.

Why?

Well, in the case of @nosycrow, I really did aim to keep my following numbers under a thousand, but they have crept up.

I’ve already written one blog post about Twitter, which I wrote late last year when our follower number reached 5,000, but this is about something slightly different.

Every Friday, for anyone unfamiliar with Twitter is “Follow Friday” when the organised among us suggest people to follow. So today, after a bit of a gap, I am going to suggest people to follow, and I began to think about the categories of people I follow.

I follow some people because they are fantastic and vocal supporters of Nosy Crow. They retweet things I tweet, they comment on our blog posts. There are many I have never met offline, but I am hugely grateful for their enthusiastic embrace of Nosy Crow and what we’re trying to do.

I follow some people because they are a great source of information particularly about rapidly-evolving things in which I am interested, like digital publishing, or children’s apps, or children’s literacy and reading. I have found stats, read articles, and engaged in conversations that I wouldn’t have had access to without following those people.

I follow some people because I know them outside the world of Twitter. I’ve worked with them, or they’re friends, or they’re people I admire. Several are Nosy Crow authors, illustrators and other creative types. And, of course, I follow people who work for Nosy Crow in either a full-monty or freelance capacity and who tweet.

I follow a few people because I want to get to know them for professional reasons outside the world of Twitter. Some might be customers or potential customers. Some might be authors or illustrators we might like to work with in the future.

I don’t follow many “competitors”, but I do follow some book publishers and app makers that I like and/or admire.

I follow some people because they are, quite simply, entertaining.

Most, but far from all, people I follow follow me.

I asked Twitter followers why they followed people, and suggested a few reasons why they might: for information, for entertainment or to establish a connection they hoped would go somewhere outside Twitter.

Lots of them answered, “all of the above”, and several cited “keeping up” with things, and the opportunities Twitter afforded for “networking” particularly with “booky-types”. People talked, more fundamentally, of following people in the hope or expectation of finding “like-minded” people with whom they felt a “common bond or connection.”

A few, though, commented on the fact that they used Twitter to connect with people who were NOT necessarily like-minded. @matlock said he followed people “to be curious – seeing what someone else thinks is important, interesting, or funny.” They talked about the serendipity of Twitter. @sharontelfer said she “love the unexpected angles” and that she drew “lots of inspiration from people with different perspectives or in different fields.”

Some said that they wanted to meet new potential customers or suppliers and a few said that they used it to find out about jobs, including, interestingly, @codingcrow, who now works for Nosy Crow and who said, “I’m hoping that one day you’ll give me a job. Oh…”

Some followed Twitter for very personal reasons:

@PhilipArdagh said he followed people “in the unsure and uncertain hope of photographing their shoes”.

And @alex_t_smith said, “I follow people who like books, drawing, cake and small animals in costumes as much as I do.There are a LOT of these people on Twitter”. As it happens, he was able to produce a (to him) perfect example within half an hour: “ EXACTLY why I follow people: @2dScrumptious says, ‘Does Elvis remind anyone else of the Childcatcher?’”. You can see Elvis here:

ELVIS

THE CHILDCATCHER FROM CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG FOR COMPARISON

(@2dScrumptious , who supplied the picture of Elvis, is Steven Lenton, a Nosy Crow illustrator.)

I am aware that a picture of a bug-eyed chihuahua in a hat is not necessarily going to recommend a person as someone to follow to everyone, but it led to a lively three-way conversation about Philippa Pearce’s A Dog So Small (a brilliant book which appeared in the comment stream of another of our blog post) so even bug-eyed chihuahuas serve a purpose.

So why do you follow people on Twitter, if you use it?