If you have been using Twitter for a while you will come to the point where you can follow no more people until more people follow you. The deadly Twitter-Limit. (Something like 1.2x your followers, is the magic number before Twitter starts stopping your enthusiastic follows.) And when you get up there in numbers unfollowing people one click at a time is a problem. Well, those were the old days, before ManageFlitter. (They were forced to change the name from ManageTwitter by the authorities, seems like Twitter got trademark happy on some folks and not on others.)
So one of the ideas behind following people is that if you are interesting to them they will follow you back. And often the problem is finding interesting people to follow in the first place. It’s often an education process I go through, and often on behalf of a client who is in a specific industry, that I may or may not have any knowledge of. So one of the ways I dig into the social media process is I look for people on Twitter who are leaders in this new category.
For example, a few years ago, when I was doing some consulting for an Shopping Cart software vendor here in town, I started looking for and following large groups of people who were in the Shopping Cart business. I wanted to know what they were tweeting about, what kinds of lists they had created and were part of. Basically I was following people in the Shopping Cart world to begin the process of engagement. First you must listen.
Well, it’s a real bummer when you stumble into a hot vein of tweeters on a specific subject and Twitter decides you’ve followed enough people. Not only can you not follow any more people, but you would have to find some way of bookmarking and returning to your current gold mine. And what happens is you don’t. You abort the process and, if lucky, come back to it later. But so much of what we do is IN THE MOMENT. So I have thrown my hands up in anger at the Twitter gods and demanded they explain themselves and let me follow more people. Have I done anything to indicate I’m a tweespammer?
So at some point you are going to hit that Twitter wall, and you will not be able to follow any more people. And what you soon discover is that unfollowing is just as much work as following. Enter ManageFlitter. Now you can filter the people you are following by things like Haven’t Tweeted in 2 months, or No Profile picture. And the main one, Does Not Follow You Back. And with a few clicks you can reset your follows and begin following new and more interesting, and perhaps reciprocal tweeps.
And one more thing I realized as I was unfollowing 100 tweeters at a time: There isn’t one single Twitter personality, or one single Tweet, that I was going to feel really bad about unfollowing. I mean the entire system is like a massive firehose, how could you even follow 20 people completely? And someone like Guy Kawasaki, he could flood your bandwidth in a few hours.
So looking through the little icons in the group of 100 I am about to unfollow, and seeing all the attractive women, the snappy logos, the identifiable brands in the tweetstream, I notice that unfollowing whole groups of them did not cause me to flinch. And you also get this unexpected benefit: the next time you are going on a Twitter research tour, you can REDISCOVER the tweeters you have unfollowed and you can follow them again.
And maybe this time they will see it is wise to follow you back.