Twitter suggestion: “Follow, for now”

As more corporations and organisations are advised to appear on Twitter – alongside a larger proportion of internet users, some new features could be useful.

For now Twitter ‘fame’ or ‘authority’ is defined by the number of followers a user has. Fashion and changing uses of Twitter may change this measure. It may be that Twitter may suffer more than most social media platforms from the computer model of a person’s actual interest in others not being updated to reflect reality.

As Benjamin Ellis said at Media Camp London 2 in December, humans usually let relationships gradually fade away when neither party gets enough from keeping them going. In Facebook and Twitter, you need to take a specific action to stop a relationship with a friend or someone your following. People don’t like having to face up to ending these links on purpose. This means that people have real- and ex-friends on Facebook and people that Twitter thinks you’re still interested in whose tweets you no longer read.


Although most people would rather think that they have many Facebook friends and Twitter followers, social media platforms like these work better when they reflect the real relationships and interests of their members. That is why it might be a good idea to have a ‘Follow for now‘ option in Twitter. If it were for a sufficiently long time those receiving these ‘second-class’ follows would still get a compliment that is better than not being followed. 120 days might work well. At 90 days you could be reminded that the Follow for now option will run out, providing the option to stop following, repeat the ‘follow for now’ or ‘follow from now on.’

On the Twitter site and in management applications, once the 90-day point is reached, those tweets could start being displayed in fainter ink. This would simulate the fading away of the subscription.

This idea is predicated on the fact that we all benefit if social media platforms we use maintain an accurate representation of our social network…

  1. This is probably how most people want MyLinkedFaceTwitKite to work in reality, yet it doesn’t have that happy shiny eWorld feeling that embodies most business plans. By allowing social connections to decay or decompose naturally within a given service, it might lower important metrics (for recruiting sponsors/ads) over time.

    Somehow it’s right, but it’s not Venture Capital Friendly.

  2. The other feature often suggested is the reverse of this – unfollow for now. eg someone is at a conference and you are not interested in it, but still want to follow them after the noise has died down. Essentially it would unfollow them, then follow them back a short time later.

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