For some reason I keep getting suckered into clicking through tinyURLs to things like this old Mashable piece, in which someone lists their reasons for NOT following people on Twitter and then all the comments crew slap each other on the back for realising that Twitter is like “a business networking event”. Since business networking events are some of the grimmest and most insincere occasions on earth it seems odd to want to recreate that vibe online without even a complimentary vol au vent, but each to their own.

Reading it though I thought some positivity was needed. So here are the reasons why I would follow back a complete stranger on Twitter. Of course I should point out that there’s no reason said stranger would follow me in the first place: beardy blokes working in social media are no scarce resource online! But in the event that a slip of the finger lands @tomewing on your list here’s what I’m looking for.

1. AN AMUSING ICON: Or at least something that isn’t passport photo meets nervous grin. Ideally it’ll be a kind of visual signature that makes you stand out amongst the rows of drab mugshots in my ever-unfurling tweetdeck.

2. STUFF I DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW: Doesn’t have to be about my job. It could be a fact about a 13th century Antipope for all I care. Far better someone who can make me interested in something I didn’t know I could be, than someone retweeting orthodox opinion on stuff I spend half my day thinking about.

3. AN INTEREST IN MORE THAN ONE THING: Parliamentarians used to call it a “hinterland” – the stuff you do when you’re not on the job. Chances are if you can be engaging about the rest of your life you’ll be interesting about the professional stuff too.

4. A MANAGEABLE FOLLOWS LIST: This is purely selfish – if you follow more than, say, 1000 people, what are the chances you’ll give a monkeys what I have to say?

5. YOU’RE HUMAN: Obviously it’s easy to spot Russian Spambot Hotties but there are more subtle pointers to your being a replicant: for instance, one dead giveaway is if you use a cliche like “passionate” in your bio to describe your job. Ah, I know, you think it makes you sound more human, but that’s because – yr a lizard! I can see it in your flickering green eyes.

You don’t have to tick all these boxes – and even if you tick none of them I might follow you anyway. And who cares if I do or don’t – I’m a nobody and Twitter is a cocktail party for passionate entrepreneurial experts who are going places! Yeah! No, sorry, I meant: there’s no right or wrong way to use the service and Twitter is a rainbow flower gathering full of sharing and conversation. Phew – glad we got that sorted out!