Today, I purged a follower on Twitter. It's part of my regular cleanup of my community. I have few enough followers to know that, at least some, people do that periodically with me. But, I'm wondering if most people ever do that. I sometimes do what I call followsurfing -- following people who follow someone who follows someone who . . . I still wonder how someone can follow hundreds or thousands of people. It's kind of a volume over value mentality. He who has the most stuff when he dies, wins.
But today got me to thinking about followers on Twitter and community. Getting a new follower or following someone else is like having a new person join the conversation in your third place physically.
It might be that a friend brings in someone new. This is like seeing a retweet, liking what it has to say and following the individual. I have had mixed luck with this much like you might expect from a friend of a friend at at cafe. They might have something interesting to say at the beginning, but be uninteresting after that. I have also found that some of these retweeted followers tend to "run off at the mouth" (or "tweet") and produce a large volume of "noise". I tend to eliminate those folks from my list as I don't like working my way through the flack. Other times, they may have had the one thing to say of interest to you, but not much more.
I have also added members to my community through visits to their web pages. If I find something interesting there, I will join their community to see what they have to say. I also check my followers. I must say that I don't follow everyone who follows me. I think some of them join me just to get me to follow them so I can buy whatever it is they want to sell. Not interested thanks.
The bottom line? Pick the people you follow like you pick your friends and acquaintances. In my case, I'm loyal as long as they have something interesting to say and I benefit from it. Sort of mercenary, I know, but I'm in this community for the benefit, not the social interaction.