Judy Olbrych in beBee in English, Social Media Marketing, Social Media B2B Copywriter for Tech • Judy Olbrych Copywriting LLC Aug 4, 2017 · 2 min read · +700

“Who to Follow” - A Note to Twitter

Dear Twitter,

Thank you for generously allowing me to use your informative free platform. I’m grateful for real-time breaking news fresh from primary sources, unlimited access to authors and thought leaders whose work I admire, and the ever-flowing fountain of useful and inspirational information available each day.

However, there’s one thing that’s continually nagged at my inner grammar-girl.  You keep suggesting “who to follow.”  “Whom” is the correct objective form of the pronoun.  

What’s that you say?  It sounds a bit stilted and unnatural?  

“Who to Follow” - A Note to Twitter

The 1927 Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage identifies this misuse of “who” as a grave error.  Fortunately, according to H.W., it’s “so elementary that it is nearly confined to sports reporters and patrons of the as-to style and needs no discussion.” [1]

Robert Burchfield’s 1998 edition suggests a more relaxed approach.  The use of “whom,” it warns, could be seen as “moribund or at best as socially divisive.”  We’re talking stifling, formal, and downright stuffy!  Please pass the tea.  [2]

The solution?  

While strict grammarians may lament the breakdown of this formal grammar rule, Fowler’s guide indicates that in many cases, the relative pronouns “who” and “whom” may be replaced by “that” or omitted altogether. [2]

Following this rule leaves us with the confusing variation, “That to Follow.”

Personally, I prefer the approach of James Thurber.  

In his Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Guide to Modern English, the author suggests replacing the elusive “whom” with “where.”

It must be done with caution.  In certain cases, the use of “where” could cause yet another dilemma, according to Thurber.  For example, suppose a writer is addressing a member of the British Cabinet and must decide between asking “Who are you, anyways” and “Whom are you, anyways.”  

Asking “Where are you, anyways?” gets him nowhere.  The only imaginable answer is “Right here.”  The official’s identity remains sadly unknown. [3]

The Good News for Twitter.

Thurber may have the perfect solution for Twitter.

Replacing “who to follow” with “where to follow” could avoid the grammar controversy entirely.

In fact, it could open up an exciting world of possibilities.  Instead of remaining in my cluttered office full of file cabinets, lights, ink, books, and bicycles, I could finally visit Switzerland, Russia, France, the Pacific Northwest, and Australia ... after I write a few more sales pages to pay for it all.

For now, I’ll have to abandon the dream of exciting journeys filled with Parisian baguettes and towering Emirate skyscrapers for my familiar neighborhood coffee shop.

But perhaps there is another way to consider “where” we follow on Twitter and all of social media.

Where is your reading leading you in your thoughts, actions, and location?

Are the people you follow moving in the literal or figurative direction you want to go in your career, relationships, and lifestyle?  After all, what we fill our minds with every day can have a profound effect on our relationships, work, and personal development.

Are you filling your mind with …

  • Good Humour?

  • Logical arguments?

  • Insightful analyses?

  • Inspiring stories?

  • Quotes that lift your spirits?

  • Encouraging words?

Are you surrounding yourself with a community of people you want to lead or emulate?

And are you contributing to the conversation so we can all become better speakers, writers, marketers, and friends?

It’s surprisingly easy to do on Twitter.  

Do you have something to share? You can find me @judyolbrych.  

Where are you?

Judy Olbrych increases ROI for online course providers and international, multi-million dollar e-Commerce brands with customer-centered high-conversion copy. She also writes about business and consumer tech. Read more at www.judyolbrych.com or request information directly from judy@judyolbrych.com.


[1] Fowler, H. W. (1927). A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. London, UK: Oxford: at the Clarendon Press prepared for G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York.

[2] Fowler, H. W., & Burchfield, R. W. (2000). The new Fowler's modern English usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[3] Thurber, J. (1977). The owl in the attic, and other perplexities. New York London: Harper and Row.

Judy Olbrych Aug 6, 2017 · #24

@Susan 🐝 Rooks, the Grammar Goddess Thank you for your kind comments! Great rule - sounds reasonable for grammar survival and useful for ESL. When adult learners are unsure or afraid, they tend to remain silent. Learning slows. Your shortcut could help them jump into conversations and learn faster.

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Lisa Gallagher Aug 6, 2017 · #23

#12 LOL @Susan 🐝 Rooks, the Grammar Goddess, I had to be careful after all, I'm posting on a buzz who has a grammar expert writing and I was summoning the Grammar Goddess. ;-) Thanks, now I know!

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Judy Olbrych Aug 6, 2017 · #22

The user has deleted this comment

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Luis Piriz Aug 5, 2017 · #20

User removed

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The only MAU is worth is the one where no one but you have stats on. MAU from you users account reach, not from the platform, any platform. These users have a relative loyalty to those platforms.


#17 You are absolutely right on a social media point of view. I couldn't agree more. My scope on MAU is not related on Platform ones as per their statistics. But I find my clients by funneling these MAU, mine, not the platform to acquire users account reach to convert into my ABM server, analyzing their behaviors, workflows, decision making processes, then offer a series of interactions under added value proposition or suggestions. We seems to view SM accounts differently. And that is good. I funnel currently 481K accounts from twitter, no need to schedule tweets, there are so many ways to interact with them since they are personaes in a SMA SaaS of mine. Because real relationships matters from a business standpoint of view. Twitter platform is at the end of the tail in matters of performance. But that is the quickest and easiest platform so far. But stagnating. Followers base are attached and restricted to any platforms, unless nay of us change the game. Not to be platform driven. But Self strategy driven. That was my point.

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian Aug 5, 2017 · #17

#15 Here are my thoughts on MAU. It isn't important how many a platform has if you can't reach them.

Maybe an example? LinkedIn, depending on who you believe, has either 128,000,000 Monthly or Quarterly users. LinkedIn reports QAU (quarterly average users). It is often quoted as MAU. Either way that number sucks considering the overall 450,000,000 (more grains of salt, please).

Who cares either way?. How many can you reach? I have about 2500 connections. That is the theoretical maximum I can reach directly. Reality is closer to 5-8% of that. Add in shares and exposure from comments and I may get a little more than my 2500. Every now and then we pat ourselves on the back because an update crossed 10,000 views. WhooopDeeDoo. That's what? 0.00002% of the "audience" of 450,000,000, or 0.000065% of the larger MAU?

Twitter's MAU is about 150,000,000 (over a third of users.) Again, who cares? As far as I'm concerned, a Monthly User is no user at all. That's why myTweetPack suggests a grace period of 3 days before unfollowing. You don't want to waste a follow on someone who is on only once a month. You don't even want the user who is on once a week.

Who cares about users who are pretty much inactive? Who cares about active users you can't reach? THEY MAY AS WELL NOT EXIST. Because, to us, they don't.

WhatsApp has 1,000,000,000 Daily Users. Should we care? I think not. Few of us have a message that will interest any tranche of one billion. Even if we did, we can't reach them all!


And Twitter & beBee work well together. That is a fact. I agree with @Paul "Pablo" Croubalian great marketer's platform and need a simplifier to be used correctly. On the long term , as per Twitter have always struggled to optimize his MAU, i stronlgy beleive in other platforms..but we all have to start somewhere, do not we. And because MAU never sleep (LOL), everyone one should have a platform to manage his/her MAU interactive strategy on all platform to funnel it in a conversion purpose. Well everyone..on a mission.