Shortly after I wrote 5 ways to follow 5,000 people on Twitter last year, it dawned on me that I was resorting to all sorts of tools and hacks to “follow” people, when I didn’t really need to follow them. Here are some of the lessons I have learned as I have gone on a pruning spree, from “following” nearly 5,000 people on Twitter to just over 400 people in a little over 6 months.
- You can start pruning by removing people who no longer use Twitter. They are not really the ones adding more noise to your Twitter feed (after all, they are no longer updating), but it will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can use a tool called Your Tweeter Karma for this.
- You will soon find that there’s only so many people you can unfollow because they are no longer using Twitter. Where to go next? You could argue that the Mashable’s and the RWW’s of Twitter are must-follows and that is true to a certain extent. After all, they are valuable sources of information for people on social media (about social media?) But over time, they have become such “celebrities” in their own right that tons of people retweet their content. So, do you really need to follow them? I argue that, if you follow the “right” people, you don’t need to follow these accounts too. Who are the right people? For me, examples of this are folks like @heykim, @svartling, @johnhaydon and @JoyceSchneider1. They are content hoses, but they do an amazing job at curating high quality tweets.
- I also have found that unfollowing people who tweet their Foursquare location a little too often comes in handy. I hope I am not alienating too many people by my iTunes “likes” which I tweet once in a while.
- I am not a big fan of drama: and guess what! Drama takes up some important real estate on Twitter when it breaks out. So, when I see drama unfold in front of me (I mean drama as in personal exchanges with insults flying back and forth, between two people on Twitter; not drama as in the madness going on in Egypt), I typically unfollow both persons. I really hope these folks resolve their personal disagreement… just not in front of all of us. If I can be of assistance, perhaps they will message me in some other way.
- You don’t need to follow EVERY news outlet out there. Specially, if you don’t do the same in real life. After all, there’s only SO many news to break and, except for niche media or SERIOUS news organizations, they all cover the same news. So, that is to say: follow the news accounts you really care about. Just because you can easily follow all of them, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Also note most news outlets now have multiple Twitter accounts, so you may be able to really narrow down what aspect (section) of their coverage you want to see take up space on your Twitter feed.
- If you love a particular product/service that has a presence on Twitter and they use their Twitter feed just to push content (“me” talk), without interacting with others, don’t follow them! If you already do, unfollow them: they obviously don’t care about you that much, so why should you care about them? You can express your love for the product by continuing to buy it and, if you REALLY are into it, you can let them know through Twitter or contacting them via email that their use of Social Media is not really being that social.
- On a similar note than “me” talk-only products/services fall the vast majority of celebrity Twitter accounts. One exception that I love is @Alyssa_Milano (and I am sure there’s a few more!) She not only follows other people: she replies and RT’s other’s content that she cares about.
- Remember there is a place for lists. You don’t need to follow on Twitter every single person you meet. Perhaps someone is an expert on games or mobile technology and you may have a need to hear more conversations about that in the future. Add them to your “Games” or “Mobile” list and move on.
- If you manage multiple accounts, you don’t need to follow them all… not forever, at least. I have direct/indirect access to nearly 10 accounts. I follow only a few of them.
- Last, be brave! You may find that the number of people who follow you drops… As long as you have something useful to share (your own content or RT’ing other material) you will remain relevant in the eyes of some. And that is fine. And if you are no longer worthy of being followed, then so be it. Twitter is not a popularity contest: to me, it’s become one of my top tools to stay plugged into the latest in news, diabetes, nonprofits and technology. And that means you need to do a whole lot of listening.
If you have found this useful, please share it with others and follow me on Twitter: @askmanny. If you thought it wasn’t useful, don’t tell anyone. 🙂