Twitter’s Follow-Unfollow Game

Twitter’s Follow-Unfollow Game

I worked with a guy once who complained about me following and unfollowing him over the course of several months. He was a complainer anyway, so I didn’t make much of it. Then he blocked me. I’d never been blocked on Twitter. There was some anger involved, or he would’ve done the simpler thing, follow me back. Or course, that never occurred to him.

Here’s the only long-term growth strategy I know on Twitter.

  1. Follow a lot of people in your field.
  2. Hope they follow you back in a few weeks.
  3. Unfollow most of the people not following you back so you can follow more people.

See, Twitter has a limit of how many people you can follow vs how many people are following you. Then once you’ve crossed that barrier, even if your ratio has plenty of headroom (follow slots available) you will still be limited to following about 200 people per day. Then you get the rather nasty message, “You can follow no more people today. Either unfollow some people or wait until tomorrow.” And that’s what you do. You follow until you hit your limit. Then you “season the list” and wait for them to hopefully follow you back. Then you go through the reverse, unfollowing hundreds of people at a time.

It works pretty well. But it’s more of a game then an art. And anyone who gets mad at you for following then unfollowing them is only missing one part of the equation. If my “friend” had merely followed me back (but he was too proud to do that) I would not be unfollowing him every month of so. He must’ve thought his tweets were super powerful and his follow meant some kind of endorsement. It doesn’t.

And while we’re at it, you really don’t need to thank me for following you. Thank me if I add you to a LIST, but a follow is just a click and a giggle. In fact, if you thank me I’m liable to unfollow you on principle. Just don’t do it. And if you AUTO respond my follow with a “Thanks for following me now download my ebook at LINK” I will definately unfollow you. I believe people should be real on Twitter. And if you auto-respond you are just spamming my inbox.

Don’t be the guy who complains about other’s Twitter habits. I’m that guy. But be sure and use Twitter like a human rather than a spam spewing robot. We’ve already got plenty of those.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

image: Twitter Bird Sketch, creative commons usage

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Hi John. I noticed you unfollowed me (@Fighting4Fair) although I follow you. Wondering why.

    I didn’t unfollow you as I have had the experience of doing so, only to then log in the next day to find that the person I unfollowed was again a follower. That person saw I had unfollowed them and unfollowed me 🙂 Kind of funny. Twitter glitch?

    On another occasion I tweeted to the person who unfollowed me and they said that they did not do so, but that they had experienced other incidents of involuntary unfollows. Begs the question as to whether Twitter does random unfollows. Googled on this to find answers and came across a guy who felt that this was the case … http://paulclarke.com/honestlyreal/2010/06/why-does-twitter-unfollow-people/

    If this is the case then the next question is, does Twitter do this for accounts across the political spectrum or is it targeted against MRA/conservatives/ and/or other particular groups?

    Your thoughts on this issue?

    1. Great question. I was whittling my Twitter account down to a small number of accounts I follow. No offense. When I do massive unfollows I quickly run out of just those accounts that don’t follow me back, so I have to start deleting followers as well. I hope to get my # of accounts to about 100. Unless your Al Gore or Gladwell, I’m thinking you might still be left out of the top 100 slot.

  2. No offense taken, and happy to remove my tin foil hat on this occasion. Cheers

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