The Perils of Tweeting (or, It IS Who You Know, Stupid)


First, let me explain that I love Twitter. I’ve even made a little money on Twitter. I manage Twitter accounts of my own and quite a few others for clients. I have one for each of my businesses, Tweettraxx and Taxtraxx, and a personal one PToddKelly. One of my businesses, Tweet Traxx, exists solely to help my clients learn to use Twitter and Facebook as marketing tools to drive traffic into their businesses. But not using a “get 300 Twitter followers” routine.

With my personal account, I only follow friends. That’s not as pretentious as it sounds. In almost every case, anyone I follow on my personal account is someone I actually know, know of, want to hear from, and care what they have to say. This isn’t to say that none of those criteria apply to those I follow with my other accounts. In fact, I do care greatly what my followers and those I follow have to say. Thousands of followers among the many accounts I manage get good information and plenty of benefit from the businesses I represent. And I do it without being a Twitter Spammer – it can be done.

But I’m not here to tout my qualifications, but to caution that you have to be very careful with Twitter, because there really is no place to hide.

My first advice is to be careful who you follow. You need to make this call for yourself; it’s none of my business who you follow. I get that. But as for me, I try to follow only those people or organizations that I would not be embarrassed to have someone find on my “FOLLOWING” list. Be careful, and remember that anyone can go to your profile and see who you are following. Everyone. Anyone.

There are plenty of social media outlets that provide some anonymity. Twiitter is not one of them. Go somewhere else if you have something to hide. I’ll be glad to provide that information in another article; but, if you are a “pillar of the community,” or someone who wants to remain above reproach, or just don’t want your spouse (or partner) to know ALL your business, choose carefully whom to follow.

Hold on, it potentially gets much worse.

We’ve already covered watching who you follow. But, on Twitter, anyone can follow you, unless you block them. Blocking someone requires action on your part. So unless you remain on watch, you can have people following you that you might not want anyone to associate you with.

Here’s why that’s a problem. On Twitter, you can go to anybody’s page and look to see not only who they follow, but who follows THEM. So, by extension, you can see if any unsavory folks are following anyone, like your pastor, your little league coach, your business partner, your spouse. You get where I’m going with this, right?

There are countless robot applications running now that seek to build followers by following every account they can find. Now, some of these actually work, using algorithms to narrow their search by geography, relevant keywords, naming conventions, etc. Some of these perhaps, are not so great. (See my blog post “Midnight Train to Georgia” here http://bit.ly/6l60Q about how I inadvertently was sucked onto the Follow-Train and how I was able to unFollow-the-Train.)

Legitimate success can also bite you. You have one successful blog post, or a couple of retweets by someone with hundreds of thousands of followers and suddenly – Whammo!!! I’m not naming names, but have you received followers that you just didn’t understand why they would follow you? Perhaps your thing is collecting Teddy Bears and you suddenly have a follower who sells lace Teddies at an adult website. OK. Fine. Maybe you have been looking for a nice gift for your wife or girlfriend – or yourself – but would you want the children, or your in-laws,or your neighbors, or your co-workers to associate you with these folks? Oh, they will. They will.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where Guilt by Association is rampant. Even if it’s not your fault. Because of this, each of us runs the risk of being found out – even if there’s nothing to find. Don’t let your guard down.

By the way, you’re all welcome to come follow any or all of my accounts. I promise not to try to sell you any underwear, or underwear products.

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Filed under Social Networking, Twitter

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