Who follows you on Twitter?

Should you protect your tweets on Twitter?

If you click the option to protect your tweets, it means people must submit a request to follow you – and then you must approve them. But is this ever such a good idea? Here, we give the reasons why we believe this is a bad idea, whoever you are and particularly if you are a business…Who follows you on Twitter?

* The whole point of Twitter is to connect with new people

Many people are put off following those whose accounts are protected. They don’t want to have to be ‘approved’ and so fewer people are likely to follow you. Unlike Facebook where you add ‘friends’, followers are not necessarily friends (although they might well become so!) but following you because they are interested in what you have to say…

* Your business is ‘closed’ to the public rather than ‘transparent’

As journalists we value Twitter because it gives anyone who wants to check us out a chance to see journalism in action. We believe it’s good to put a face to Featureworld (which is why we have photos of us on our Featureworld website too.) The last thing we would want to be is secretive about how we go about our business. And even if people don’t officially follow us, it means they can still view on our tweets and click on any that interest them.

* Your tweets can’t be retweeted

We love it when one of our tweets is retweeted to another’s followers – that is the whole point of us tweeting – because we like to make connections outside of our immediate followers. Some of the articles on this blog have been read thousands of times simply because someone (not necessarily a follower) picked it up and retweeted it to their tens of thousands of followers! It has then been retweeted again and again and we have gained lots of new interesting followers, many of whom we never knew existed.

* You can’t @mention someone who doesn’t already follow you.

The Twitter Hello wave to someone who doesn’t know you exist is surely one of the cleverest inventions with Twitter. It is a fantastic way to draw someone’s attention to you or what you have to say.

* It makes you seem unapproachable

We live in a world where people have little time and want an immediate answer – having to wait until they are deemed ‘approved’ to view your little world can be very annoying. People can feel upset enough if you don’t follow them back. But if you don’t even ‘allow’ them into your little clique, it can come over as you’re being rude…and a tad up yourself!

* You’re not searchable

Protecting your tweets means you are no longer searchable by Google or any site where your tweets come up. All of these are potential links for someone searching your business and finding you…

* It can lead to less business, not more

Some people will claim they were worried competitors were looking in on their tweets and who they are following and who follows them. But you don’t have to give your business secrets away on Twitter – you can be careful what you say! You can liaise with clients another way – email for example – you don’t have to converse with them via Twitter… But even if you do give the odd hint to a competitor, that must be balanced with the loss of connections and engagement you engineer by cutting yourself off from the rest of the Twitter world.

Finally, there is a way to have a totally private conversation between friends and ensure only your closest circle sees what you are saying – it’s called Facebook.

Let’s face it, if everyone protected their Tweets, Twitter would cease to exist as it is – one big conversation that anyone can join in. And you can always block unpleasant individuals, although blocking business competitors is thought of in most professional circles as undesirable (for a start it will also show them how much of a huge competitor you think they are…). They can also still view all your tweets by looking at your account after they’ve logged out of Twitter or by viewing it on a different browser.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your views below…

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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