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Social media is like dating: Flirt, but don’t be easy

In my latest So Social column for the Chicago Tribune, I talk about how to decide who you should follow. I close the column by comparing the whole experience to dating. Here, I’m going to expand on that more, because I think social media and physical relationships have a lot in common. If you don’t take a risk, you’ll never know what might have been. And if you come on too strong, you could scare the person away.

scott-kleinberg-twitter-followersThat’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes. I’ve gone all in, only to find the person wasn’t right for me. And I unfollowed. Following and unfollowing is part of the dating dance. Sometimes, it just isn’t the right time to follow and maybe it will work out again in the future. Sometimes there’s someone else you like better.

Here are a few general tips when deciding who to follow back. And while these apply very well on Twitter, they work on the other platforms too. And maybe they’ll help your dating life too.

– Slow down and make an informed decision before clicking. What do you know about this person? If someone you didn’t know called on the phone and said “Hey, go out with me tonight,” you wouldn’t go without asking “who is this?” would you?

– Don’t follow everyone, even if they followed you first. There’s no rule that says you have to reciprocate. Does that make you mean? No. You have a right to be choosy.

– Flirt. Make the person want you. Open a button or two. I believe it was John Michael Montgomery who said “life’s a dance, you learn as you go … sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.”

– Don’t be easy. Following everyone back is a sure-fire way to invite spam and it makes for unwiedly Tweetdeck columns that will all but guarantee you’ll miss something important. Something you should look out for: Anyone who includes #TeamFollowBack in their tweets is someone you probably don’t want to follow. Usually, those people are focused on numbers, not quality of the social relationship.

You can read the rest of the column here. And I have many more social media tips in the So Social archive. And now I’m off to write a book about dating.

About Scott Kleinberg

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