Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Twitter's Annoying WtF (Who to Follow) Feature

Twitter's Annoying WtF (Who to Follow) Feature

By Dennis D. McDonald

I’ve been using Twitter since its beginning. I enjoy it. Right now I’m “following” 885 people and 1,568 are “following” me. Mostly it’s people in the DC area, people interested in topics like project management, e-Government and collaboration, social media practitioners, and a smattering of academics and consultants whose specialties or interests overlap in some way with mine.

I tend to follow people (as opposed to corporate accounts) and I’ve stopped following many social media “gurus” whose use of Twitter and their bajillions of followers offers no real opportunity for actual communication or engagement. I frequently reply to tweets I’ve read. The give and take is interesting and informative — and occasionally funny. I also post my new blog posts and book and movie reviews as well as links to news articles I find of interest (e.g., space, science, engineering, etc.) 

Twitter right now has been running a “Who to follow” (WtF) feature. In a prime spot in the right hand column whenever I log in I see two recommendations. Usually it’s an obvious recommendation (Bill Gates, Guy Kwasaki, Chris Brogan, etc.) or a DC- or Nothern-virginia area person selected, no doubt, based on my interest in Federal government issues or my announced residence here in Alexandria VA. 

I find the Who to Follow feature annoying. As with a similar feature provided by Facebook, there is no indication why this person is recommended. (Is Bill Gates recommended because he’s a philanthropist or because he’s, well, Bill Gates?)

I’ve noticed that several of the recommendations for social media gurus have been people I no longer follow — Guy Kawasaki, god bless him, is one of the them. I no longer follow Guy but I wish him well. But he’s showed up in my “Who to Follow” recommendation three times so far over the last week. so I suspect he’ll show up some more. (An exception to my “no gurus” rule is Jeremiah Owyang, a personal friend.)

My guess is that Twitter’s Who to Follow feature will be dropped eventually from its prime location and replaced with some sort of advertising. That’s fine with me — silent, un-animated ads that are in fact targeted to my eclectic interests, as long as they are not annoying, are fine with me; we all have to make a living.

But — and I know this makes me sound awfully old fashioned — I would appreciate it very much if Twitter were to change the name of the feature to “Whom to Follow.” 

Copyright (c) 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald

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