There are lots of reasons to love Twitter. For me, I love seeing what my co-workers and friends are doing, at work, at home, on vacation, at conferences. People hate it for the same reasons. (“Who cares what you had for lunch?”) One of my favorite reasons is to hear from (to “follow”) other professionals in marketing or who work at churches, and capture little bits of wisdom from their cumulative experience. What an incredible opportunity! And I love the random conversations that happen with interesting people all over the world.
To “follow” or not is a bit of a controversy in the Twittersphere. Following is simply choosing the people from whom you wish to receive “tweets.” Scott posts a great explanation of the issue here.
A lot of the professionals (those with hundreds or thousands of followers) recommend reciprocal following (see Scott’s post). But here’s why I think that’s not helpful – or necessarily smart. I think it dilutes a part of your online personal brand.
For example, leadership guru John Maxwell appears to be a reciprocal follower (2,464 followers and following 2,477). If you are a young leader, you follow Maxwell to capture bits of his wisdom. But what would also be really helpful would be to see who Maxwell follows, right? From whom does he find inspiration? Except you can’t identify them, buried in his 2,000+ reciprocal follows. He’s effectively (albeit unwittingly) blocked you from finding what would presumably be additional quality sources of leadership. [Updated May 09: Maxwell follows over 15,000 people]
Reciprocal following is probably a good strategy for gaining followers. But I think sharing information is really what Twitter and other social networking are all about.