Perhaps I should have titled this post “how NOT to get me to follow you on Twitter.” Sure, lets go with that.
First, before I even consider following someone, I check their profile. Your profile should have at the very-least a few words about you and preferably a hyperlink to your website (since most of you have one these days, but its ok if you don’t). I don’t care if your name is “GS_PMD” or something, if you don’t have a bio, you stand little chance of getting followed. I make exceptions, but they are few and far between, i.e. if a substantial number of people I respect/follow already follow you or if you need no introduction (e.g. you’re a CNBC anchor).
Second, there’s nothing wrong with mixing business and personal tweets. I’d rather follow people who act like people than those who act like robots that are all business, all the time. However, I don’t need to know every song you’re listening to all day. I don’t need to know your sexual predilections, however if you make it funny and/or can make it relevant, go for it. For entity sites like @WSJ, @FT, @whateverco, I don’t expect alot of color, and that’s fine, but I sure as hell love that @sportscenter tweets just like the anchors speak. Political correctness and staidness be damned!
Third: don’t spam. This can take several forms, whether its serial autofellatio, following everyone and anyone (in hopes of gaining as many followers as possible, aka the “Tila Tequila” approach), or whatever. Just be freaking normal, ok? If you write something or want to tweet the same thing more than once, that’s fine, so long as its practiced with restraint, for example, tweeting a new post in the morning and again in the evening. That, I don’t mind, since very few of us are staring at the screen all day long and may legitimately miss something worth seeing. I say this with the caveat that, just like with email or any other distribution method, shameless self-promotion will quickly render you unfollowable, or, if I’m following you already, unfollowed, if not blocked if you’re a real schmuck about it.
Fourth: Don’t be an arrogant prick. Really, I can’t say it any more clearly. Its one thing to strongly advocate a position, analysis, or opinion; that’s good, shows conviction. Hell, if you support something, I expect you to freakin’ fight for it! However, its another thing altogether to be stubborn, and worse, offensively stubborn to the point of being presumptuous. No one knows everything, about everything, all the time. I certainly don’t, and openly admit so (really, go check my history if you don’t believe me). I expect the same modesty out of the people I follow. Tangentially related to this point, please, try not to be a hypocrite. I’m surely guilty of being one, myself sometimes, but I make an active effort to self-police, and frankly hope if I’m caught, people will call me out on it! Rest assured, if I see egregious hypocrisy, I’ll call you out on it (nicely, at least at first). Lets keep each other honest here, cool?
Now, getting to why I actually DO follow people, the most important thing is the quality of the content (the same message you’ll see in our “about” page here on Stone Street Advisors, which should come as no surprise to anyone). I’m of the mindset (perhaps naively) that its pretty obvious to almost anyone with half a brain after a relatively short time who is worth following for what subject, and who isn’t. Ideally, I like to follow people who give valuable insight about whatever it is they’re tweeting, whether its a single-name investment observation or a quip about Lindsay Lohan being a role model for young girls. Again, funny/interesting is better so long as it doesn’t kill the content.
Well, this turned out far different than I intended when I started it in the early AM hours today, but hopefully someone, somewhere got something out of this little rant. To summarize: Be honest, (as) upfront (as possible), smart, prescient, and preferably, entertaining. Otherwise, I’m probably not going to follow you.
I should have added, a few things, in no particular order:
If you want me to follow you (or continue following), you better be able to debate the merits of an argument while avoiding ad hominem attacks. Of course, no one is perfect – we’re human, after all – but if you can’t or won’t make an effort, I’m not going to follow you. Simply: Grow some damn skin. We’re inevitably going to engage in debates that get intense and we’ll be on different sides. In the heat of the moment, sometimes we cross the line from argument to personal attack. Its subconscious most of the time, but it happens. That’s not to endorse such behavior – quite the opposite – just acknowledging human nature. If it happens, shrug if off, apologize, kiss and make up, whatever. Life goes on, and debates via twitter (or via whatever medium) shouldn’t ruin relationships.
Whether you tweet under your true identity, under a pseudonym, or some combination thereof makes no difference to me. Either way your reputation is based upon the content you produce, and to a lesser extent, the way you go about producing it. @Kiddynamiteblog (etc) didn’t get invited to go speak with Treasury Department officials last year for nothing. You’re probably not reading this right now because I’m some famous “big name.” I’m not going to get into it here since I’ve beat it to death elsewhere, but I cannot stress it enough: if you don’t realize that anyone who tweets (or blogs, or generally publicly states his/her opinion) has a reputation at stake, then I’m probably not going to end up following you.
Which gets me to my last point: If you aren’t going to stand behind what you say, tweet, whatever, don’t freaking say it. I’ve gone through a bunch of my old tweets, and I’ve said some pretty stupid, short-sighted stuff that in hindsight, I’d like to take back. But I said it, and so it remains, as it should, in my opinion.
That is all.