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I’ve been on Twitter since 2007. I’m certifiably addicted, but I’ve never kept my main feed organized. It was too much work after I let it all pile on. My Twitter was getting fat.
Years ago Twitter was asked, “what are you.” Twitter’s answer, “whatever you want us to be!” Some turned it into a prospecting tool, an RSS feed, a toy, a chat room, a customer service tool, a spamming tool, a stalking/trolling tool, or a brand manager. I realized I never really turned it into anything. It’s like a tornado of people, and I just spiral around in it without any real habitual use. But one thing I never did was look through my raw Twitter feed. I use TweetDeck for Chrome, and completely removed the main Twitter feed.
I was sweeping my mess under the rug. I’m usually very organized, probably due to a little OCD. My Twitter usage did not reflect that. Sure, I relied on lists, but I didn’t build them out nearly enough. I was missing other good things in my main feed that didn’t get automatically filed.
I decided to break off my “relationships” with 3,000 people. I did it by hand using Tweepi. It didn’t give me the sense of power I hoped. Most of the mutual followers didn’t realize I existed (just like High School), but for some reason I was still in a relationship status with them. I certainly expected to lose a ton of followers (assuming many of them were only following me as long as I was following them, but with TweetAttacks vanishing, maybe that was less likely?). In a week I’ve lost only a few hundred.
For some tweeters, it was hard to say goodbye to the icons I’ve gotten familiar with. I’m not kidding. By removing everyone manually, I tried to remember the good times. Some were big brands that followed me back, or big Twitter-celebrities. Yes – I said goodbye to the Zappos CEO. I was impressed 5 years ago when he followed me, but we’ve never spoke (plus he’s apparently seeing 369,000 others). I dropped virtually all the brands I was following. I dropped SEMs and social specialists if we never communicated, or if they never responded – with the exception to a few who were really thought leaders or good friends.
Here was some of my criteria:
1. If we haven’t had a conversation in 2 years, and your content doesn’t really excite me, I broke up with you.
2. If you don’t respond to me, and you’re not a top provider/curator of content, I dumped you.
3. If your icon was a hot woman, but your name was George, I let you go.
4. If your shirt off was in your icon (and you’re a guy) you were severed.
5. If you have a Z in your name where you should have an S, I dumped you on principal.
6. If your icon was an egg, dumped.
7. If you haven’t tweeted in over 3 months and I didn’t know you personally, I cut you loose.
8. If your icon was an animated .gif, gone.
9. If you were an obvious bot, I asked myself how I ever followed you, then gave you the boot.
10. If you retweet really dumb things, I buried you.
11. If you appear to follow everyone who follows you (like I used to, which is how I got into this mess), you’re toast.
12. Abusive use of the underscore.
What Did I Learn?
For me, I realized that I was doing Twitter wrong. I want SEO industry content and some laughs with my friends. I want to be on the pulse of what’s important through the lens of the people I enjoy and respect. I meant no disrespect to the people I cut – I’m sure there are lots of great people, but the connection was never made. I want all my mutual connections to be real connections, more like my LinkedIn. Now I’m following much fewer users, and put my raw stream back into my grid.
It’s been a pleasure. And it’s controllable.
Why Should You Follow Me If I Won’t Follow You Back?
Maybe you shouldn’t, especially if you haven’t stopped to figure out what Twitter should be for you. Granted, my tweets/retweets are 50% relevant to SEOs, with the other 50% being hilarious, but if you’re not into that type of thing, why follow me? I’m also very responsive on Twitter – I respond to everyone, so if you like a good conversation, strike one up with me. That’s another good reason to follow me. If I agree that we’re “hitting it off” I’ll probably follow you back.
But why does Twitter need to be a mutual connection?
My Admission – I Was A Twitter Hoarder
How did I let it get this way? In the beginning I had some bad habits. I followed everyone who followed me using a tool (who’s name I forget). I also did a lot of following of people in lists (instead of just following their lists). I followed a lot of people who others I admired were following. I did this blindly, assuming that I’d be able to find a few favorites after a few weeks of watching tweets. #badplan
I also used to do consulting, and thought of Twitter as a real business prospecting tool. I semi-consciously thought a high follower count could be seen as clout. The problem was, although I had an auto-DM, I didn’t nurture any of the contacts. I was a complete Twitter hack for 3 years. I only got bit by the bug and really started to understand its value in the last couple years.
Twitter has introduced me to great people. I’m excited for Mozcon in a couple weeks to meet people I speak with on Twitter. I’ll learn something there, but suspect much of it will be through conversations and networking due to the relationships I’ve made on Twitter. That’s really pretty huge.