My Twitter Policy: How You Can Join "The 200"

I spend a lot of time on Twitter. It may not be the home base that my blog is, but it's certainly where I hang out. And as a hangout it's more like a speakeasy because the crowd is limited, just over 200 followers. That's because I really want to get to know the people I follow and to learn from them. I never understood how you could do this following 1,000, 5,000 or 10,000 people. A couple hundred seems just about right.

But that doesn't mean I follow people forever. I add and drop people every day. But the ones that stick around share certain qualities.

They have something to teach. Whether it is cause marketing, social media, philanthropy, public speaking or SEO, they are all experts in their respective areas. They are original thinkers--not just rehashing other people's stuff--and are the ones others retweet.

They tweet, a lot. The first thing I check when I get a new follower is how many tweets they have. If they don't tweet a lot I conclude two things. Either they don't have a lot to say or what they do have to say I'll miss because their lone tweet will get lost in my stream. Either way, I won't follow them back.

They talk to me. I know this should be expected on Twitter, but I'm always amazed how many people happily spend their days tweeting away but don't even try to talk to most of their followers--even when they're asked a question. The people I follow talk to me and I talk to them. We encourage each other, argue, help each other out and, thankfully, they put up with my jokes and sarcasm.

So, it's really quite simple to find a spot for yourself in The 200. Be an expert in a field I want to learn more about, be an original thinker and be a prolific and engaging tweeter.

The good news is that even if you're not all these things you're probably showing up in my Twitter stream in one way or another. First, use Twitter search a lot and have an ongoing search on "Cause Marketing." If you mention those two words in your tweet, I'll definitely see it. Second, I also have a lot of faith in the wisdom and power of crowds to drive great content to the top of my Twitter stream. In short, if you're tweeting good stuff, I'll see it. If you're doing it consistently, it won't be long before I'm following your tweets.

Of course, we all have hesitations and turn-offs that incline us to follow one person and not another. Here are mine.

Geography is important. I'm very provincial. I tend to follow New Englanders over New Yorkers, easterners more than westerners and Americans instead of foreigners. So if you're Yankee's fan living in Japan who grew up in California, I hope you understand.

I don't follow animals. I will not follow a cat, a dog, a pot-belly pig, a unicorn or Scooby Doo avatar. I want to talk to a human being and I prefer to see your smiling face as your avatar.

Auto DM's suck. It just screams "amateur" to me and someone who doesn't get the purpose of social media. I unfollow usually, but not always.

Twitter is by my far my favorite social media tool. I've met some great people. And I look forward to meeting more. My policy helps me meet the right people. Do you have a policy when it comes to Twitter? I'd love to hear about it. You never know, I just might follow you back. ;)