In this marvelous age of the social media new words have become popular but some of these words had prior meaning. So there is a potential for confusion.
In the world of Facebook the word “Friend” has a meaning a bit closer to our offline worlds. Ostensibly we “know” the people we friend on Facebook, at least we have been introduced by someone we know and we have to approve the connection. On Twitter if you set your profile to “Public” anyone can “follow” you, which only means that they can see your posts, your tweets. I think this is what I love most about Twitter. So far it is my favorite social media tool.
A Tree Falls in the Forest
On Twitter if someone follows you and you follow them back this too is called “friends”. But are they “real” friends for this reason? No that is absurd. It is about getting to know someone. But like in the offline world of face to face it takes time to get to know people. In the offline world you don’t get smacked with an “unfollow” from someone who you have had lots of contact with but who has evidently had “enough” of you. Imagine if you got such a face to face snub! Online we have tools and we can check. I find this fascinating.
I use to get a daily report of new followers and who has unfollowed me the previous 24 hours. After my first three months on Twitter I finally had someone who I had daily contact with, met in person, unfollow me. So what to do?
Well first of all it helped to be rational and ask myself is this person really a friend? Sure we’ve had contact, lots of engagement just like we wanted from social media, but so what? I had the fortune to read a delightful article by a witty writer just as I was getting started with full-time Twitter efforts. It was all about the drama of tweeting and retweeting, constant @replies and then they are off with other “friends” and then the friend who unfollows you. Yes the drama.
Twitter is a great social melting pot; a laboratory of human nature. But with one huge difference. People are really on good behavior on Twitter. It is the kindest, most positive place I have ever experienced strangers. Someone said this was because everyone is trying to sell something, so they do all the nicey-nice stuff. Well that is just…nice!
So what to do when a “friend” unfollows. It doesn’t matter, just decide rationally. Sometimes I will unfollow since I need to disconnect from the drama; out of sight out of mind. But if the person offers value to me in their tweets, I will always checkout their profile regularly and follow their stream of consciousness. I don’t care if they follow me back, because I am learning how to FOLLOW. I follow a lot of people who don’t follow me back, because I am trying to learn from them. So it really doesn’t matter if they follow me and if I want to really reach them I just call out their @name. People always respond to their names even if they don’t reply back.