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Twitter_logo_10_tweet_testLike most users, I have more Twitter followers than I have people whose Twitter accounts I follow.

(Is there a Twitter-savvy phrase for “people whose Twitters I follow”? Tweeps or twerps or one of those obnoxious ones? I am not, obviously, Twitter-savvy myself.)

The small number of “follows” I give out is necessary to keep Twitter usable for me at all. I don’t have the time or mental energy to sort through a huge stream of information. More than a couple dozen tweets an hour and I’m skimming, vacant-eyed, with no idea what I’m reading no matter how great it is. That doesn’t benefit me or anyone else.

So I have to pick and choose the ones I want to follow carefully. Lately I’ve been using something I call the “10 Tweet Test,” which boils down to this:

1. Open the Twitter page of someone you’re thinking about following (full page, not the floating preview — that won’t show you all their retweets and favorites and such). 

2. Look over their last 10 tweets.

3. If less than three are original, non-promotional thoughts and/or organic, non-promotional interactions with friends, stop considering that person immediately.

4. If more than half were posted within the last hour, stop considering that person immediately.

5. Otherwise, make a choice based on how much you enjoy the things they post. 

I don’t feel like this sets too high of a standard. You have to actually be you, rather than an advertisement, 30% of the time, and you have to pause for digital breath a couple times an hour. That seems very achievable to me!

And yet this triage will eliminate at least half of the people who follow, re-tweet, etc. your account. I guarantee it.

This is probably not an effective way to use Twitter, from a marketing standpoint. I’ve read the literature; I know that it is, counter-intuitively enough, more successful to be an obnoxious, artificial-sounding promotional machine that no one would ever want to be actual friends with than to sound like a real human being. Quantity > quality.

But fuck it. I’ve only got so much time in the day. If I wanted to spend it tweaking my advertising strategy for maximum sales, rather than writing and thinking interesting thoughts, I’d have joined a marketing firm for six figures and a health plan instead of trying to go it as an indie author.

The 10-Tweet test: it’s for real human beings. Know it, learn it, love it.

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