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Reclaiming the Stream: forging the murky waters of social media

by | Sep 8, 2011 | Industry News & Trends

To follow or not -- who owns your association's stream?

A little while ago social media strategist extraordinaire, Chris Brogan, stopped following us. By “us” I mean all the thousands of people he had followed since they initially followed him on Twitter. You can read more about his experience here. You see Chris had a very liberal follow philosophy. If you were human (not a menace, spammer or autobot) and followed him, he’d follow you back. One day he decided not to. He “unfollowed” everyone. Many people took this personally. Since they couldn’t send him messages, they emailed, blogged and tweeted their discontent. Chris probably never knew how personally people took being a member of his community until he unfollowed them. It had become a social media entitlement program or a known endorsement to be part of Brogan’s “camp.” Many saw a networking connection to Chris as a chance to win the social media lottery — if you could get your content in front of his eyes, maybe just maybe he’d tweet you and if he did — fame, fortune, the world is yours!! (Much the same way Oprah’s book club is eyed by would-be writers.) Acknowledgement equals validation and instantaneous notoriety. 

I do feel bad for Chris. Chris’ twitter stream should be his own, should it not?

But I’m not writing about Brogan’s blog to start a debate about whether he had the right or not. I’m looking at it from a broader sense, specifically how member-based organizations are using social media. Do you follow everyone who follows you? Do you unfollow people who don’t follow you back after x amount of days. I watch our Twitter (and other social media outposts) very carefully but not so carefully that a change in our total number would have me hunting through who unfollowed me. I see the stream as a fluid number somewhere around 480 currently. I follow people I find interesting, regardless of whether they follow Their content is still of interest to me, regardless of how they feel about my content.  Don’t get me wrong, I hope the people I follow will follow me but that’s just my selfish interest in having my content read. Those feelings are completely removed from how I feel about theirs. I am selective in following people in our corporate stream. I have metrics I use, which are much different than the ones I use in my personal Twitter account. On my personal account I follow anyone (who appears human and has a bio). I use lists to bring some form of organization to my stream and I use Tweetdeck (for both personal and company accounts). Some of you may not differentiate between your personal account and that of your group. If that is the case how do you keep your member organization from becoming known as _____ ‘s show? Maybe you don’t.

When you represent a member organization or company (like I do) does that change the way you follow and unfollow? Have you experienced any unfollow backlash? Would you dare unfollow a member of your community? If you do, do you communicate with that person ahead of time? Would love to know your thoughts. One of the great aspects of social media is how we are all exploring and sharing best practices. Exciting times indeed.


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