No, I’m not completely crazy. I just don’t like the word “follow”. Follow says “listen to my message, be passive, I’m broadcasting”; Follow is all about me. Suppose instead you sent out a message that said, “Engage with me, talk to me, let’s have a conversation.” If you’re a business trying to build a presence on Twitter, or even an individual trying to get beyond “what I had for lunch”, wouldn’t that be a good thing?
And it turns out it’s a surprisingly easy thing to do as well. Instead of creating a link to your Twitter profile, make a link like this:
replacing xxxxxxx with your Twitter ID.
This links to Twitter’s home page and its “What are you doing?” box, but automatically puts your ID into the box to send you an @ message. It’s the Twitter equivalent of a mailto: link for email, and just as straightforward to use. They click, add message, send. Just make sure that your Twitter client shows you @ messages from people you’re not already following (Twhirl does), or that you check them regularly via the web.
Of course, there’s risk in this strategy: What if your potential follower sends you the message but doesn’t go on to follow you as well? Isn’t that an opportunity lost?
It all comes down to the quality of your own response. Anyone who sees that you really meant what you said, that they can use Twitter as a medium to communicate with you, is going to be much more invested in following you than if you’d simply given them a “follow me” button to click in the first place. Instead of building a list of dozens or hundreds of sheep-like followers who aren’t so interested in what you’re saying, you’re building a network of real contacts: And isn’t that a better vision of what Twitter could be?