Image borrowed from little-gamers.com, the internet’s coolest comic and inventors of the Poking Stick.
Do you remember the good ol’ Facebook poke function? The one that allowed you to nudge people to alert them to your existence. It actually still exists although I rarely see it being used these days.
Despite the title of this article Twitter does not have a poke function… not an official one anyway. But it there is a way to mimic the effect by unfollowing somebody you already follow and then instantly follow them again. In doing so you trigger an email alert telling the owner of the target account you are now following them (even though you already did) bringing some attention to you.
I first noticed it from a spam Twitter account where the same hot lady kept following me. first I thought it was just several accounts from the same hot lady but it turned out to be the same account that kept following me again and again. A quick “block” action stopped this.
But then I’ve noticed regular people using the trick too to give themselves a second chance and it made me follow several accounts I had overlooked or in a few cases accounts I had added to my Twitter lists but forgot to follow.
Twitter Poke for new Twitter account holders
Imagine somebody new joining Twitter. He starts by following 1-maybe-200 Twitter accounts that look interesting. But as an owner of one of the followed Twitter accounts it may look weird to have somebody following you that has no tweets and no followers. Not very interesting.
However, in time our newbie’s Twitter account may start to have something of value to offer. So one way to alert the account holders they already follow to this fact would be to @mention them, but this may be ignore for various reason and even if it triggers a discussion it may still not result in a follow.
By performing the Twitter Poke our hero can try to reboot the relationship.
The value of Twitter Poke for veterans
The Twitter Poke technique is also valuable for established Twitters. I am currently cleaning up my own Twitter account by using friendorfollow.com to get rid of accounts I am following that doesn’t follow back and that I don’t think has anything interesting to say.
When I come across an account which isn’t currently following me back but who I genuinely think may have an interest in my tweets I do a Twitter poke and it has results in people following me back. It is too early to tell whether it will result in real interactions on Twitter or elsewhere, but I am surprised how many have followed me back triggered by a Twitter Poke.
Ofcourse overdoing it will annoy people just like the receiving 56 Facebook pokes was pretty annoying too, but I think it is a valid and elegant way of just nudging somebody who you think may have overlooked the value of your tweets.