A few folks have been talking about how following works for them on Twitter – do you follow back everyone who follows you (minus the spambots)? Do you selectively follow some people? How and why?

Here’s my rationale. As I said in a recent post, Twitter is my AP Newswire. As such, I look to Twitter to learn first and foremost – I watch Twitter and see not who’s interesting or attractive or fun or whatever. I look to see who has the information I need most in their Twitterstream and follow.

My day job at the Student Loan Network requires me to stay on top of current events, to keep an eye on markets, to have discussions with the smartest people I can on a regular basis to keep myself sharp. I look to Twitter for folks who work on the inside of firms like Merrill Lynch (ticker: MER), Citigroup (ticker: C), JP Morgan (ticker: JPM), and many others. I look to Twitter for folks as avid about economics and finance as I am. Twitter is my Bloomberg terminal.

My hobby job as PodCamp Co-Founder along with Chris Brogan requires me to stay on top of trends in new media, social media, marketing, PR, and much more. Twitter is the conference that never ends.

My focus on Twitter changes, too. Lately it’s been focused on macroeconomics, politics, marketing, and PR, but back in February it was heavily focused for a couple of weeks on object oriented classes in PHP, and I followed/unfollowed a lot of people when my focus changed.

Just as I have a choice between CNBC and Bloomberg on TV or the Boston Globe and BostonNOW, I have choices about who I follow on Twitter, based on what I need Twitter to teach me. If I don’t follow you, it’s not because I don’t like you or because you’re irrelevant. It’s that what you’re doing right now isn’t necessarily in my field of focus – but may be in the future.

I try to keep the number of people I follow between 300 and 400 – any more than that, and Twitter becomes unusable because I lose more information than I gather.

To keep balanced and make sure I don’t miss anything, I check my Replies tab religiously.

That, in a nutshell, is my follow policy. What’s yours?

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