Do my new ‘followers’ realize what they’re getting?

By Steve Outing

I was tickled to find my name on Robert Scoble’s list of top tech blogger/FriendFeed/social media people. He’s got a huge following, so by appearing on his list, I’ll pick up some new followers on FriendFeed, Twitter and my blog, I’m sure. (I’ve noticed some already.)

Scoble is publishing the FriendFeed URLs for the folks on his list, so most likely that’s where people will start following them. The tech blogger and gadfly’s recommendations carry weight, so we’ll all get somewhat of a boost from this.

But this got me thinking about the people who start to follow me but don’t know me. With Facebook, my “friends” learn about both my professional and personal activities; but those are mostly people I know at least casually. It’s a closed social network, under my control. By contrast, with Twitter, I have “followers” who know me, as well as many who don’t but follow my tweets (probably) because they’re interested in my work or media-related opinions. Ditto for FriendFeed, but they’re getting not only my tweets but also my blog posts and photos posted to Flickr. Those systems are open, in that anyone can follow me; it doesn’t require my permission.

The thing is, I (and most of the other people I know who use Twitter) post professional as well as personal stuff. On Friday I posted to Twitter about media and political topics; today I posted a tweet about my daughter’s birthday party. While I primarily tweet on media topics, I also tweet when I go mountain biking (one of my passions); my Flickr photos are usually personal.

To my “friends,” the personal stuff is perhaps of interest; I know I enjoy reading personal tidbits not only from my real friends, but also professional colleagues who I consider to be casual friends. But for these new non-friend followers, I guess they’ll have to put up with my occasional personal ramblings interspersed with the professional-related stuff that I post.

It’s a bit odd, really. I mean, why would anyone who doesn’t know me give a hoot that I mountain biked on this really great trail? Or am currently hanging out at The Cup on Pearl Street in downtown Boulder? A FriendFeed that mixed personal and professional would be fascinating to follow for a movie star, football quarterback, politician or celebrity. It’s probably not so scintillating for all we non-celebrity types.

But perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps it is interesting to learn little personal bits from normal people we follow but don’t know and have never met. I see a lot of that from people who I follow on Twitter but don’t know well, or at all. The bits are short and easy to skip over. Yet I actually find it interesting and read them, when I’m in the mood. It’s a bit of modern-day voyeurism.

What’s your take on this? Do you enjoy seeing personal glimpses from people who you follow on Twitter and FriendFeed? Or do you find it annoying?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!