When you’ve been on Twitter for the better part of six years, you find you collect a normal amount of cruft and, from time to time, it’s a good idea to go through your follows to see what you’ve collected. After all, I’ve got over 1520+ followers and 550+ accounts I personally follow, and it can really seem overwhelming. It becomes even more important to manage your stream if you change jobs and/or industries, as I have earlier this year. I spent the better part of yesterday doing just that, and found some interesting takeaways in the process.
1. Know who you follow. Whenever I get to this point, I go to TwitCleaner and run an initial report on my follows. What I like about these reports is that they identify accounts that got started but never really got off the ground (or just stopped tweeting completely), or accounts that haven’t tweeted in a very long time (months or even years). I also follow a fair number of accounts that don’t follow back — a good number of these went into lists, and then got unfollowed (I still get their content in the lists, just not in my full stream). Also realize that some people join Twitter, then realize it’s not their thing, and stop. They prefer the Facebook, so they stop tweeting. So follow them where their content is, whether that means Facebook, their blog, or something else. Keep in mind, just because a Twitter account is on this list, doesn’t mean you should just dump it — it’s only a starting point. It’s your knowledge of who you follow that makes this list useful.
Did I lose some follows? Yeah, a couple. But I’m okay with that — and they may not realize I’m still following them via lists. Another great thing about TwitCleaner, is that you can turn the magnifying glass on yourself, with their “How Do I Look To TwitCleaner?” feature. This can give you an opportunity to tweak your own information flow, and your followers will probably love you for it.
2. Lists are my friend. As my interests are varied, so are the accounts I follow. To make it easier to make sense of the incoming firehose of tweets, I’ve spent a fair amount of time moving people into lists. I will confess that some of these people I have put into lists and then unfollowed — these are people whose interests really don’t align with mine anymore, but I list them so as not to lose track of them. Conversely, there are also people who tweet a lot of links and reference info that I want to find easily, so I put them into lists. I will also confess that I do have lists for “lulz” and “random fame” which I dip into from time to time, as the occasion warrants. Mostly because I can.
3. Some accounts are ephemeral. Funny is as funny tweets. Gotta love those accounts, until someone runs out of the funny. Or maybe you added a ton of people at that conference you went to last year — conferences are full of people who hop onto Twitter to see what people mean by “follow the backchannel.” Of course, if you hang around the right/wrong kinds of people like I do, there’s always some smart-alecky Twitter account created to anonymously tweet the LULZ. That’s totally fun during and shortly after the conference, but eventually the account grows cold, never to be resuscitated. Drop the one-and-dones, but remember to keep the actual conference accounts — they will start up again when conference happenings begin.
4. Know when to let go. I’ve kept following accounts just because I felt like there would be hurt feelings or bad blood at an unfollow. But experience shows dormant accounts or accounts that only tell me what they’re listening to/where they’re checking in/what they’re watching on TV don’t suddenly start spouting useful information. Unfollow and move on. On the flip side, do I track those people who unfollow me? The answer is, quite simply, no. My head understands all the reasons people unfollow; but my feelings still get hurt occasionally. (@Zeldman broke my heart, but I forgive him. He’s a busy guy.) So I don’t even go there. *sniff*
5. Don’t believe your hype. Twitter may say I’ve got 1,500+ followers, but I’m not a fool; my follower list has a decent percentage of spam accounts there. How do I know? I use Fake Follower Check by StatusPeople. Running it gives me enough of an overview that I can live with:
For what it’s worth, I also don’t spend the time blocking every spambot that might start following me. Life’s just too short. Unless they decide to start spamming my actual stream — then I block AND report.
6. Some battles aren’t worth the fight. This is an election year, and while my Twitterstream isn’t as obnoxious about politics as Facebook is, I get a spike every time we have a debate or other political thing. That’s when your twitter client’s filter and mute options come in handy. This is also useful for those followers who like to pick a fight over something I’ve said, or that occasional follower you know will make a stink about an unfollow. I may or may not have been known to put those people on infinite mute. Believe me — the world is a better place for it. Hashtags for conferences you aren’t at are also subject to temporary mute, for your sanity as well as your productivity.
7. X is for exception. Let’s face it. We all have them. Mine is a friend who passed away almost a year ago. I just can’t let go of her social media accounts. And I’m okay with that. It reminds me we’re all human, and we won’t be around forever.
So that’s what I do to try to keep the information flowing. What do you do to keep your Twitterstream under control that I haven’t thought of?