Follow People Not Brands

— 2 minute read

I have a rule on social media. Well, I say rule, more of a guideline or a guiding principle. I've occasionally mentioned it in passing to folks at meet ups, and through my 10 years on assorted platforms I've found it invaluable. It's this:

Follow people not brands.

Occasionally some social media wanker guru will claim that Twitter or Facebook is for ENGAGING THE BRANDS TM, but really I much prefer people. People make the world go round. Even the best corporate accounts have that stilted, half-human, slightly precarious uncanny valley that makes them difficult to parse, filter and give tuppence about. Largely because they are ultimately run by somebody who is heavily restraining themselves in order to adhere to a corporate hymn sheet and not get the company in trouble. Even the nicer ones have that slightly sociopathic grimace of somebody pretending really hard to be something they're not.

So anyway, if I find a project or company I like I tend to follow somebody involved who works on the part of it I think is cool. The main bonus is they tend to talk in a more natural way and around a subject, about interesting tangents and lead you off other places. This is cool (possibly the coolest bit about social media). They act as a great filter, because if the project/company/organisation does do something genuinely interesting, they'll likely retweet it anyway - so you still find out the best bits of the corporate account without being subjected to on-brand waffle.

Oh sure, everybody on Twitter is putting on some kind of mask, how they want to be seen as much as how they are. That's another post entirely. But the point here is that real people are way better at filtering the corporate crud out of the web than any algorithm.