Jeffrey Levy

Wow, did I blow that one. First, I’m sorry for the delay in responding – I’ve been on vacation for the past week.

Second, I’m very sorry for how I came across. By no means did I mean to belittle your question; it’s a common one. Rather, I was trying to help you by pointing out why I wouldn’t (and don’t) worry about inappropriate followers. As you point out, you’re crazy busy, and although I was hamhanded in how I put it, my intention was to say you’ve got more important work to focus on than cleaning spammers out of your follower list. If someone were to challenge me about a follower, or to challenge an EPA account, I’d take the opportunity to explain how Twitter works and why it’s valuable.

But you certainly know your operating environment better than I do. In fact, I repeatedly stress that point: what works for one agency might not work for another because of differences in mission, working culture, comfort level and knowledge of management (or other critical stakeholders like council members) with how social media works, etc. So if you’re in a situation where one person’s misunderstanding could lead to your being laid off, then certainly, block inappropriate followers.

To that end, and to respond to Steve’s point: it’s usually relatively easy to distinguish a true spammer. The spammers usually follow a zillion people without being followed, and their tweets are usually all the same. When I do notice one, I report it as spam, which blocks the account from following me.

If you’re still reading, and I haven’t completely blown my credibility with you, please allow me to suggest that you talk to critical stakeholders now, before anything unfortunate happens. Because guaranteed, someday, someone will misunderstand. At that point, what will help you is your effort to help important folks understand why you’re using social media, what benefits accrue, and what you’re doing to mitigate the risks that do exist. That’s why I go around to EPA management groups and give them presentations. It’s the first presentation I listed in “Social Media: Resources for Beginners” (and also feel free to use anything else there you find useful, of course).

Finally, please allow me to disavow the idea that I’m a a general, you’re a foot solider, or that in some way I’m worthy of any more respect than you. We’re both learning how all of this stuff works, and I try to explain that in my post “Why I Squirm at Being Called a Social Media Expert“.