A debate is raging on the twitternets about people who don’t automatically re-follow followers.

Some believe there is an unwritten rule that mandates when someone chooses to follow your tweets, you should automatically follow their tweets.

Twitter can be a great way to develop a community, get your news, and generate traffic for your blog. … It just seems like common courtesy to follow those who follow you, but does this result in information overload?
[Michael Kwan]

First off, is mutual or reciprocal following the predominant behaviour? I think so, though I haven’t seen any empirical data or surveys on the subject. I receive an occasional coolly-worded tweet from somebody on Twitter that implies that I should be following them presumably because they’re following me.
[Darren Barefoot]

I take a decidedly lightweight approach to social media. If I haven’t met you or don’t know you personally, I’m not likely to add you as a friend or follow you. I currently follow about 200 people on Twitter and it’s still too much.
[Lee Lefever]

Follower count doesn’t matter. What matters is who you follow.
[Chris Brogan]

Robert Scoble has called Twitter the World Wide Talk Show, and while he may find it effective to auto-follow each and every person who adds him to their feeds, there are those of us who appreciate some signal in their noise.

I treat Twitter as a news source. I follow influencers, be they local or international. The people I follow on Twitter add value to my feed and give me information I can use. I would hope people add me based on that reason as well.

To paraphrase what Brogan says – it’s not about me, it’s about you. If I think you’re valuable, I’ll follow you – if you think I’m valuable, you’ll follow me. The two are mutually exclusive.

I follow Kevin Rose because I find it interesting to read about the adventures of a dot com entrepreneur. He probably wouldn’t find it interesting to follow the travails of a radio dj and media junkie in Vancouver. He adds value to me, I don’t add value to him.

And there’s no harm in that.

The problem I have with Facebook is the moment I allow someone to follow me, Facebook reciprocates the follow and my feed gets inundated with their information, photos, invites, groups and status updates. Being a public figure, I can’t really lock down the Facebook profile for fear of missing an opportunity to reach and out and communicate with my audience.

Twitter, however, lets me lock down the messages I read while allowing me to broadcast and communicate to as large an audience as possible.

Facebook is a wide community with everyone yelling and screaming at the same time and becomes difficult to follow. Twitter lets you manage the noise in your signal for a much more useful experience.

Twitter has leaders and followers. We all follow leaders, but leaders don’t necessarily need to follow the followers.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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