I first discovered Mark Shaw from one of Francoise Murat’s Retweets drawing my attention to one of his blogposts: “Why I am not following you on Twitter” which frankly is a good piece although its certainly not fresh content.
I read his blog and then looked at his Twitter profile and read a little more about him on his site. The first thing I noticed from his homepage was his claim to be :
..one of the UK’s leading Twitter experts….
Then I re-read the blogpost in question (after I noticed he has almost 60 times more followers than people he chooses to follow). I still took absolutely no exception to any advice he gives, yet felt uneasy about this “Twitter expert”. Then I reread the blog title “Why I am not following you on Twitter” that now felt incongruous. Still not being able to put my finger on it, I drilled down into the comments on the post and Stuart Flatt’s comment provided my bingo-moment:
So Mark, you are actually saying there are only 220 people on the whole of twitter who meet your criteria?
May I be so bold as to say you you only follow people if you believe there is something in it for you?
I just read one level of your tweets. And you only have self promotions and @ replies. Again most of the @ replies are talking about yourself or something you have tweeted.
I had a poke around Mark’s twitter stream and sure enough: Stuart’s spot on: Mark seems to, most often only engage in conversation with people who initiate conversation with him. Either that or he’s trying to initiate a conversation with an A-List tweep or promote his own business
Why am I writing this blogpost? Everyone is free to follow who they choose, and I have nothing personal against Mark as I know he puts a lot of effort into helping people in his follower base but that, afterall, is his business and he earns a living from doing it. But all this prompts me to remind myself that Twitter is a community tool. Twitter doesn’t change the rules of community. In the offline world community rules have existed since the year dot. The rules touch the way in which we socialise, listen, help, & recommend. For community to work, it needs to be a bilateral exchange. To me community isn’t only about listening for your name to be called out and then responding. Its not about trying to wrestle in front of the influencers and its also not about trying desperately to be an influencer. Its about having an awareness about the community around you. In my opinion, you can’t do that when you’ve got 12,836 people aware of what you’re saying and only being aware of 222, that’s called one-way arrogance (in my book). As I said in the comments on Mark’s blogpost, celebrities like Duncan Bannatyne get away with it because they don’t write blog posts entitled “Why I am not following you on Twitter”
And that’s why, Mark, I am not following *you* on Twitter.