This ain’t no funky follow party

In the last month or two, I’ve been on an unfollow binge.

 @richirvine ‘following’ stats July – October 2012

When starting out on Twitter, I followed my mates who had blogs, then sportspeople, then local media and online types. I was as free and easy with the follow button as I am with peanut butter on toast. I’d go through other interesting people’s follow lists and follow away with what turned out to be reckless abandon.

Like (I suspect) many professional SM-folk, I followed many people out of professional obligation. Competitors, customers, industry types – which is all well and good, but for the odd occasion they spoke up about something that may become an issue for the employer, the trade off was often a whole lot of irrelevance.

Slowly things became more and more out of control – people you thought would be fun turned out to be too noisy, too whingy, over share-prone or self obsessed. I’m loathe to begrudge anyone a decent bit of self-obsession (hey, check out the domain name of this site!) but this was *my* Twitter – I wanted it to be awesome.

I think everyone owes it to themselves to make their Twitter great. Those pithy little updates and avatars are much more personal and important to me than, say, Facebook with its ever-shifting rules, ads and stuff a mysterious, unaccountable algorithm thinks (THINKS?) I’ll like.

And so, I started unfollowing. My inspiration was this article, Why I just unfollowed everyone on Twitter. Killer quote: “It’s exhilarating.” Unfollowing *everyone* seemed a little extreme (quite tempting though!) but like eating chips, once I started, I found it hard to stop.

Many of the accounts were pure newsfeed accounts I’d long since lost interest in and had been mentally skipping over anyway. Many people were the professional-obligation crowd* and others were friends of friends I’d followed because they were friends of friends, but it struck me I was getting mentally involved with people I didn’t actually know. Which, on paper, felt weird. Unfollow.

Google has a few tools for managing Twitter followers, but I found it easier to just go through my follow list in a web browser and start unfollowing manually. It didn’t take very long, I unfollowed a 2-300 people and I’m much happier. My Twitter feels leaner, sharper and has more meaningful updates, better signal to noise ratio, all that.

Like any time I dramatically cut back on RSS subscriptions (here’s another good article) or what have you, I don’t miss it. And because I’m a recidivist offender when it comes to welcoming feeds, accounts or noise into my life that will easily distract me, no doubt I’ll have to repeat the process over at some stage, but I’m (generally) OK with it.

Yes, I’m aware this post makes me sound like a dick, but I assure you that’s not the intention – I just want my Twitter to be a nice place, and make it about what works for me rather than trying to be everyone’s mate. Or something. One of the things I love most about Twitter is that you control completely what you see and can quickly change it if it’s not working for you. Don’t put up with noise, claim back your Twitter people! For you!


* This is a valuable search tab I have saved for making sure I don’t miss mentions of the employer, with the added bonus of seeing who says what about the employer when they think you’re not seeing it, by not using the handle.

2 responses to “This ain’t no funky follow party”

  1. Helen Clark Avatar
    Helen Clark

    Yes! This is one of the reasons I created a new twitter account and follow very few. It was just like white noise in an endless stream of tweets.

  2. ^PR Avatar

    Love it. Cleansing is good! Doesn’t make you sound like a dick – it’s “your Twitter”… just like you choose watch shows to watch on TV, Books to read or Sportsgames to go to.

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