Tag Archives: Guidelines

Twitter dumps auto-following — but not auto DM’s

Twitter has turned around and tightened up restrictions on its api. It has announced that automated following or bulk following is now prohibited. From the following rules and best practices document it says:                                              

"Aggressive following is defined as indiscriminately following hundreds of accounts just to garner attention. However, following a few users if their accounts seem interesting is normal and is not considered aggressive."


Twitter removed the automated feature that permits automated follow-back for a reason. Twitter prefer that users ‘manually review their new followers and then choose whether or not they would like to follow back individual accounts’.

It also has prohibited the ability to automatically block numbers of accounts as a method for unfollowing them.

Application developers can provide follow back features – provided that they are totally manual. Twitter says that this will improve control:

‘This allows for greater granularity and control for brands and users, and greater opportunity for developers to build social analytics around potential followings: by highlighting the best, most relevant users to follow-back manually this provides a greater potential user benefit than indiscriminate auto-follow-back’

This is good news for curation apps such as Storify which requires manual intervention to create a story and publish it – less good news for hundreds of app developers that sold services to buy you new followers

Twitter is not reciprocal by default. It offers users the choice to decide whether to follow another user back. Some users do feel pressured to follow back, but if a user follows everyone that follows them, their feed would soon be filled with content that is not particularly interesting to them.

You might be trying to buy followers to make you look more interesting to your followers.  However, if not all of the accounts which followed you contained content which was interesting, then you would soon become disenchanted with Twitter and its useless noise.

It is important to choose carefully who to follow and prohibiting auto-follow back will stop the ‘ I follow back’ crowd.

Auto following isn’t a good idea. People who tweet should have some value to me. I don’t want spam or abuse.

I want to engage with people who tweet regularly, say in the last 45 days or so. Manage Flitter helps me to keep track of who does not tweet .

I want to engage with real people.They should have an interesting Twitter bio, profile image and link to another site. It’s an added bonus is if they have a background

I want to engage with people that can respond to my questions within a reasonable amount of time. Automated quotations lessen the value of the whole of your Twitter stream. Give me commentary, links and interesting observations, not just quotations – no matter how good they are.

Have a look at the Developer rules of the road and Automation best practices for more information on developing your app..

Image Credit: Dennis Jarvis                                                                           

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.


10 tips: How to write an effective Social Media Policy


More and more companies are embracing the openness and transparency of social media, and are using it to demonstrate their authenticity online.  Over 170 companies have already published their social policies online and socialmedia.org have a selection of policies for anyone to look at when they are creating their own policy and a great set of Best Practices in their toolkit.

Chris at Social Media Governance has what I think is the definitive list across industries – a list I often refer to when creating new policies for clients in a similar industry. 

What shines out though is how similar these policies are to each other.  Common themes are threaded throughout each policy, themes that are the culture of the business themself

Here are my guidelines on making a great social media policy:

  1. Be respectful. Don’t insult, disparage, libel, defame, inflame or attack others.  You might find that you get yourself into a flame war with someone who has a heck of a lot more time than you do, and spends all their time online arguing or disparaging your brand
  2. Be Authentic.  Integrity should underpin all of your communications.  Be true to yourself.  Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.  The effort will be too much and remember – people buy from people.
  3. Be accurate. Fake social media campaigns are soon exposed and credibility is soon lost.  And when you’ve lost credibility, its very hard to get it back.  you will suffer. The brand will suffer
  4. Be aware of corporate IP. Protect copyright or confidential corporate information.  Makes sure that you respect other companies IP too.  It’s complex and involved if you get on the wrong side of it
  5. Be careful.  Do not speculate on matters that may prejudice your company in any legal case.  Remember that you may be required to disclose all of your emails sent over a very long time period if something happens
  6. Be valuable.  Your readers, they are potential future clients and connections and their satisfaction matters.  You want to offer them value from your communications so make sure that they receive value and not trivia
  7. Be humble. You can not be right all of the time. Acknowledge your errors and apologise with humility.  Remember, there are people on the internet with a LOT more time than you.  Apologise readily and quickly.  See point 1
  8. Be generous. Acknowledge other authors where you’ve used their work.  if you’ve found an image on the internet, make sure that you can actually use it (see point 4 above), and that your attribute the owner accordingly.
  9. Be responsible. You are the company spokesperson in your external messaging.  Press, journalists see you as the voice of the company.  make sure you behave appropriately.
  10. Be thoughtful. An off the cuff comment can do immense damage to your reputation and corporate brand.  See Points 1, 7 and 9.

Another good tip if you’re writing a social media policy is to be concise. A good social media policy should be less that one page so that the contents are remembered. Keep it simple. Keep it memorable.

And make sure you have a policy that reflects the culture of your company – whatever the culture is…

Image Credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.