After reading Owen’s post about Twitter Influence there was a brief discussion in the Habari IRC channel about who people follow and why. One part of the conversation was about celebrities. One person in the convo didn’t follow any celebrities. Owen follows just one. I, however, follow 50+. That got me thinking about why I follow these people and how I’m actually using Twitter.

First off, I want to point out that I am not a TMZ, Perez Hilton, US Weekly, People celebrity stalker. In fact, if you look at the celebrities I follow you would find a bunch of names that rarely, if ever, appear in that type of celebrity drivel. The celebrities I follow are people from TV show, music, and movies that I really enjoy. Their updates are usually really good and provide me with entertainment. Denis Leary always has great one-liners. Rob Lowe embraces his fans and frequently talks about his role on The West Wing. Nathan Fillion and Colin Ferguson are just regular guys that tweet just like anyone else. Roger Ebert provides thoughtful political and film essays. Louis CK posts clips from his very funny show and tour dates for his stand up.

The thing is, I get quality tweets from most of these people. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t follow them. Sure there might be a few on there that don’t update, but for the most part they all do and I enjoy most of their tweets. It’s gotten to a point where I enjoy their tweets more than most of the other non St. Louis people I follow. Twitter has evolved from a place where I can see what other people are currently doing to a place where I can get info on my favorite TV shows, movies, musicians, and actors. I still enjoy seeing what my fellow St. Louisans are doing, but that’s about it. I used to enjoy reading what other people were up to or things they found interesting, but that has definitely changed, and I can probably pinpoint two reasons why that has changed.

The first reason is I started following too many people. I follow a lot of people but the people I follow, I follow for a reason. This has disadvantages though. The people I tend to follow update more frequently. Follow a lot of heavy users and statuses begin to fly by one right after another. Even though I find what they have to say interesting, I can only read so many tweets before they are lost forever in a never-ending stream of unreadable text. After a while of not being able to catch up, these updates become noise and provide nothing meaningful. The second thing is what I’m going to refer to as static. These are tweets that interfere with an otherwise good signal and will often contribute to the first issue. These tweets can be anything from a Four Square check in or a re-tweet to get into a contest for an Apple product (which I swear no one ever wins). Then you have paid tweets. That one bugs me the most. With celebrities and other high profile users, it’s easier to get high quality content without a lot of noise. You know if there is an update it’s not going to be a Four Square check in, a RT for a contest, or what song they are currently listening to. It’s going to be something that I find meaningful.

So, have you changed the way you use Twitter over the years? Do you still find it as valuable as before? Do you use it to make personal connections or more broad connections for your interests?