Two blog entries last month made me think about why I’m so picky when it comes to Twitter follows (as opposed to Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections, where I have to have either met people or know who they are and why I want to connect with them). I follow about 600 fewer people than follow me, and every so often I cull my “following” list. I try to stick pretty tightly to forensics folks, cops, and PR/marketing pros.
Although Mitch Joel at 6 Pixels of Separation agrees that being a “Twitter snob” can be good — keeps your stream uncluttered, reinforces your credibility — Christopher Penn takes a step back from the either/or argument:
Here’s a different way to look at the question: what are your goals? Broadly, there are two different goals you could be pursuing with your social networking strategy, segmentation and serendipity.
If you have a goal of creating a tight, highly valuable network where the only interactions you have are with people you know and trust, you’re effectively pursuing a segmentation strategy. You’re looking to get maximum value out of the content that comes from the network….
If you have a goal of creating a broad, diverse network where you’re interacting with many people across many different industries and backgrounds, you’re pursuing a serendipity strategy. You’re looking to get maximum value out of the network itself….
Neither strategy is correct, writes Penn. Although arguable that this is a function of personality rather than business goals (I am deeply introverted, and prefer quality over quantity in my networks), when I take a look at the accounts I manage, I can see each strategy in play regardless of the fact that I specialize in the forensics niche.
Most of my clients specialize in different areas, and I follow accordingly. There is, of course, some overlap, as with e-discovery and forensics examiners. But it’s not all the same. One client has more interest in homeland security, especially border operations, than others do. Reading their blogs, in part to learn what their specific needs are and in part to learn which of their content is relevant to the brand, means the focus is on content.
Another’s audience includes information security professionals as well as forensics and e-discovery. This is also the fastest growing account, and although I try to retweet as much as I can from the network in the name of validating and strengthening the community, it’s the network itself that is the focus.
In the digital forensics space, most business and personal accounts will focus on quality and content rather than on quantity and networking. That said, some will want to focus more on the latter — those forensic firms serving not just other businesses, but individuals as well. (Think private investigators and data recovery firms.)
Speaking of individuals, you see these same strategies in play in other social networks. Some LinkedIn contacts, for instance, have 500+ connections — and ask more to connect with them. Likewise on Facebook, where hundreds of security and intelligence people friended Robin Sage without thinking about it. But that’s another post for another time.