If you follow me on Twitter, you read my posts recently about “important” people pandering to each other while ignoring the rest of the community. This write-up is meant to add a little clarity to my thoughts and help illustrate where this is all coming from.
First of all, I want to be clear that people who are famous for something (and who use services like Twitter) are usually famous for a reason. That they have done something for the community that has set them apart as leaders in our field (web design or development). Many of these celebs are good, honest, hard-working people that have built up quite an audience. Possibly they’ve built a service you use, invented a killer technique, or written a book. Or, perhaps they’re just cooler than the rest of us. Nobody can really explain how fame happens, it just does.
With that said, I also feel that the web design/development community has stagnated a bit as far as who we place as role models, and that many of them have grown very comfortable with their spotlight. So much so, that it has become increasingly difficult for new talent to walk in and suddenly be noticed. The groups that people follow begin to have walls, and they stick with only the people that they have heard of, rather than allowing a stranger the opportunity to have a voice.
Social networks are surprisingly fluid (at least they’re supposed to be). There’s always a little movement coming and going, here and there, back and forth. We follow and unfollow often, and with relative ease (a good thing). We should always shake things up. So here’s what I propose we do about it:
Audit Your Followers/Follows
Conduct a thorough audit of who follows you (and who you follow), and why. Are you following a person because you are a fan, and they are famous, or are you following because you see real value in the account? Don’t be afraid to let someone go (with a little unfollow), even for a little while. Trust me, they’ll be okay with it (it’s just Twitter, after all). It doesn’t mean that you don’t like them any less in real life.
Search around for accounts (possibly in your own follower stream) that are owned by talented and smart people who seem to share common interests as yourself. You’ll find that the relationship will have more value through conversation, and that you’ll begin broadening your personal network (tribe) in very positive ways. It would be great if I could convince some of the famous Twitter’ers to do the same, but I’m not sure if they would or not. If you don’t really have any followers, then feel free to see who else is following the same people that you are. Many of these people are actually pretty cool.
Next, following too many people is directly relative to how often they post updates. If you find someone spamming the stream, it might be time try other people (I’ve been guilty of this a few times).
Finally, they say that Twitter is not a chat client. But it is a social network, and social networking is mostly about cross-communication. It rarely works when it’s all top-down. Don’t be afraid to respond to people on Twitter, and don’t be afraid to forward a brilliant quote. We’re all here to support each other, and the only way we’re going to get truly fresh voices is by being more active with our peers. By letting person “A” know that they might have something in common with person “C”.