It Isn’t “Follow The Leader”

I wasn’t sure what to title this blog. There are many ideas swimming around in my head that I want to share. The title I settled on may seem negative, but I chose it to dispel an idea that could hold people back; This misconception might limit people’s experience on Twitter. And so, I hope to help anyone struggling with the question of “who to follow” by offering a couple ideas.

When “following” someone, I am adding them to the influencers of my Twitter feed. Either I’ve seen something that they produced or due to their profile information, I’m interested in seeing more from this person. Immediately after clicking “Follow”, the person’s info will flood enter my feed. I struck out “flood” because it sounded negative; the new info does not push out other things. It just gets added. You do see it right away, if the person has tweeted recently, which is kinda fun.

Due to the information in the previous paragraph, I sometimes WON’T follow profiles that haven’t tweeted at all or who haven’t tweeted in the past couple years. Often authors will create a Twitter account that just sits there. There are some who tweet all of the time, and some even “Like” and “Reply” to you. @JerryPallotta is one of my favorites. He writes the #WhoWouldWin series that I use to teach my third graders nonfiction research skills.

That being said, I will definitely follow people who are using Twitter the way I like to use Twitter, even if they don’t have large numbers in the way of Tweets, Followers, or Following. Hey, I started at 0, 0, and 0 at one time, also. The people who jump in headfirst and immediately begin replying, connecting, sharing, and engaging with me and my PLN are golden on Twitter. These are my kind of people, and I can’t follow them fast enough!

There are a few exceptions. First of all, you will have your own list of parameters for people you follow. For instance, I enjoy the back and forth on Twitter. Therefore, I target following other educators who will talk TO me. Perhaps you would rather use Twitter as a type of news source. People who chatter away (me) may not be perfect for you; Follow me anyway;) (ha ha) Secondly, following isn’t exactly an artform. People who are highly engaged might have succinct algorithms for following. I find that most do not. I’ll tweet to people who are engaged in conversations with my PLN for weeks before that person follows me, sometimes. Other people and even companies will follow me for seemingly little reason. Thirdly, I have a personal philosophy of following certain people, regardless of Twitter behavior, just because. These people include anyone and everyone from my home school district, Eastpenn. I love that Dylan Peters put together a list that helps me find these people. (Make sure that your information is added to the list if you join later in the game!) Another group of parameter-pushing people I follow are tags my PLN suggests. If someone whom I am in close contact with, as in I communicate with them regularly, lists a bunch of people’s handles and says, “Follow these folks”, I do it, no questions asked. You might not have this rule, but I trust my PLN to give me good suggestions.

For example, I just took a break from writing this to check Twitter. Julia Dweck, my good friend, colleague from Willow Lane Elementary, and Twitterer Extraordinaire had tweeted a picture of students holding a project. She was tweeting #Task5 of the #EPSDTwitterChallenge, so Julia included several handles of Tweeple she follows who she suggests others follow as well. Most of them I already followed, but I was pleased to find that there were a couple whom I could add to my feed. I don’t even hover over or look at profiles of people that my close friends suggest I follow. This makes it easy and fast.

I want to end this blog with its title: “It Isn’t Follow The Leader Perhaps to some the word “Follow” leads to negative feelings; As in, “I don’t want to be a follower of anyone.” Also, when you type follow into the GIF search box, you get pictures of little ducklings “following” their mommy. Who wants to be associated with that? I encourage you to NOT think of it that way. There is no leader on Twitter. When you follow people, you DO lend your support to them, but more importantly, you allow yourself the opportunity to learn from them. Not following people is robbing yourself the ability to grow.

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