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5 Reasons I Intentionally Follow Less on Twitter

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Photo of Amberr MeadowsI’ve been active on the major social media platforms for roughly a year and a half, and I’ve already discovered the wisdom in quality over quantity–particularly on Twitter. If I followed rookie protocol, I could easily increase my number of followers, but I’ve followed intentionally instead of freely. I’m currently sitting happy with 9100 followers and following 4100. I am slowly building a quality feed, and this has worked great for me.

 

Many Twitter users would argue I am not getting the most out of my social media experience, but I disagree wholeheartedly. My Twitter experience is more engaging, more personal, and far more impactful than it would be if I followed everyone who followed me.

 

Here are 5 reasons I intentionally follow less on Twitter, and why I’m comfortable taking things slowly:

 

I don’t do follow for follow or #teamfollowback

These are people who are generally on Twitter simply to build numbers. They rarely interact with their followers unless it’s a fairly useless grouped bunch of @ 6 random people people via “Lazy Shout Out” or other impersonal Twitter tool. If you’re trying to promote your product, service, or website, these followers are time wasters, because they are NOT paying attention to anything you tweet.

 

Team Follow Back on Twitter

As you can see, a user that tweets these #FollowBack messages will often spam your feed with nothing but Follow Me re-tweets. A good way to add more useless noise to an already noisy platform.

 

I don’t follow those who haven’t hatched from their eggs

Many of these followers prove to be bots or spammers, and they usually have nothing revealing in their bio (assuming they even have a bio, which is rare). I’m willing to entertain the idea of following someone with an avatar of their cat, guinea pig, or something otherwise impersonal, but they better have a good bio, a ratio of interaction, and some killer tweets.

 

Twitter Profile with Egg

When a Twitter User does not upload an avatar, the platform displays a large white Egg by default.

I don’t follow people who have sucky tweets

I refuse to use any automatic following service like Tweet Adder, and I personally check each person who is following me. I review their last 20 tweets or more, and if they’re lame, I won’t follow them back. I prefer to follow and interact with people who aren’t annoying me with inane tweets.

 

I don’t follow political freaks, religious zealots, or hate mongers

I don’t have any qualms about what political party you follow or who you choose to worship and how, but if all of your tweets are about how great your political party/religion is while slandering others, I’m simply not interested. If you fall into a hate group of any kind, I’ll pass. Why ruin my Twitter experience with such intolerable nonsense? This is rhetorical, of course.

 

Religious Fanatic Margie Phelps

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church will never get my follow.

 

I don’t follow the “Out for only myself” people

If your tweet stream consists of solely links promoting your book, Youtube video, business, or anything else without sharing anything from other people, my assumption is you’re a selfish jerk. This is an impossible follower relationship, and I’d rather just not go there.

 

As a consequence of my decision to be choosy, I have less followers, but Twitter is an awesome experience for me. I connect with like-minded individuals, have truly meaningful conversations, and I glean great information from what they have to offer and vice versa. It pays to be selective, because if I weren’t, all joy would be sucked out of my tweet stream, and I’d probably abandon Twitter. And that would be sad.

 

What about you? Do you have criteria when choosing who to follow, or is it a free-for-all in hopes your information gets spread across the Twittersphere? Share  your thoughts in the comments!

 

Amberr Meadows

Amberr Meadows is a blogger and community manager with a B.A. in Psychology. She has successfully promoted her own website, Like a Bump on a Blog, which concentrates on travel, writing, social media, and technology.

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46 comments

  1. “I don’t follow those who haven’t hatched from their eggs” – I like this description :) it is incredible how much of a turn off this is for many users. 
    I personally have started generating lists on twitter to track certain groups of people and keeping my twitter stream for those I want to always be connected with. I also use Engagio (www.engag.io) because it helps in honing in on the conversations part of the social web. I am a bit biased (I do work for them!) but I think it is a great tool. Let me know if you do check it out.

    • Abdallah, I’m getting the feeling I need to start working harder on my lists. Sometimes my tweet stream is overwhelming. I’ll have to check out Engag.io. Thanks for the input! 

  2. Some sound advice here, many thanks! I use twitcleaner to periodically clear out the dross.

  3. I’m not as picky but typically don’t pro-actively seek out others to follow. If you show up I’ll check you out and if you seem real enough, I will probably follow back. 

    If I see you have 30,000 followers and 10 tweets, you probably won’t make the cut. If I see you have 30,000 followers and only follow back 100, you probably won’t make the cut primarily because I know right off the bat there will probably be little engagement. I did that early with celebrities and athletes and that was booooooring……

    The way I keep my posse relevant is through the use of manageable lists. That works well enough for me without having to be so picky on who I return a follow on. 

    I guess everybody has their own way, huh? 

    • Bill, I never proactively seek followers. They follow me, and I check them out using the above criteria. Everyone does have their own method on Twitter and it’s cool to share ideas on it> From you, I learn I might need to make more manageable lists. My lists via formulists haven’t been updated in a shamefully long time. Great comment! 

      P.S. I never follow celebrities

  4. I find it interesting how many different takes on following and being followed there are here on Twitter. And for the most part I agree with you as I fail to see the auto follow back craze and such junk as a good practice. 

    But I’m not sure that I worry as much as you do about the quality, frequency, or relevance of other people’s tweets. So unless they are spammers or a hacker ( I find them I report them) I don’t drop people nor worry who follows me. For with lists and other filters I only have to really see and relate to those who I like their content. But for me if someone who’s not a spammer or tweeting junk wants to follow me I don’t have a problem with it.

    And while I don’t auto follow I do follow those that ask me too out of courtesy.  For I have no way of knowing how they use or don’t use my tweets and information. Nor do I have anyway of knowing when from the least expected source I find something of interest or importance or am connected to someone who I would never have found without a connection I saw no reason to have.

    So while I seek out those I find of interest and relevance to follow I share my tweets, thoughts, and ideas with anyone who is interested in following me and if they either ask me or I find them of interest I follow them back.

    Makes for a very lose and disjointed bunch in my group but it works for me and I’ve found no reason  to change it.

    • Marie Jarreau /

      Hey Frank,
      (Love your last name – by the way :o) Reminds me of my favorite fairy tale.)

      I found your insights here very interesting.  I have been on Twitter over a year or so but am still trying to ‘figure – out’ what I’m supposed to be doing here???  Other than uploading thoughts of 140 chactrs. or less to promote or denote myself and or others works, efforts, ideas, etc. I’m not sure about the rest of it.   I like the idea of connections with folks and so have managed to Tweet a thing or two only everynow and then. However, now that I am RETIRED (hoooraaaaay!) I intend to become “All A Twitter”  – to a degree that is. I have lots of wonderful stuff I’ll be working on just for the enjoyment.

      I hope you’ll ‘Follow Me”  :o)

    • Frank,

      Learning about what works for other people is informative and refreshing. If what you do works great for you then there is no reason in the world to change it. One thing to note: if someone asks me to follow them and they don’t fall into the above categories, I will follow them back as a courtesy, too. Thanks for your fantastic input!

  5. I am of the same mind, with regards to following, but I take it a bit farther. I don’t allow those people to follow me either. I block them aggressively. One of the methods I use to tell if someone is a good Twitterzine, is to look at their Follower:Listed ratio. If it is above 5%, I’ve found the person is almost always awesome. If it is above 10%, then they are gold.

    With this rule in mind, then it behooves me to block worthless followers, as it will make my own Follower:Listed ratio better. I want to know how many REAL followers I have, not spammers or bots.

    I enjoyed the post, keep up the good fight.

  6. You make some good points here. The people I drop quickly are those who use social media as online therapy. Anyone who has to snap photos of every meal they eat, every store clerk they see, or vent about their job all day–outta there! I say save it for your therapist who gets paid to listen to that crap. Lists are the only way to go on social media, just like filters on RSS readers. Twitter is both a business tool and a work break for me, and people have to understand that, just like I would understand it of them.

    • Karl, I have to agree with you. Social Media is not supposed to be personal therapy. If there is someone you connect with that feels the need to unload and the relationship is good, that is what DM’s, Google chats, and FB messages are for. It does behoove one to keep some of their personal business private. Nice insights!

  7. Agree with every point, I hate people that follow others just to get a follow back.

    I think my limit to keep up with everyone is to follow about 300 people more than this and twitter just becomes noise.

    • Paul, I agree, and this is where I think lists will come in handy. Mine haven’t been updated in quite some time, but I’m going to add that to the neverending “to-do” list.

  8. I guess I thought it would be rude to block what I thought were legitimate followers, but have come to believe now that sometimes its hard to tell who are the real people and who are auto-tweeting machines!!

    I do appreciate the topic you’ve chosen here and the comments of others.
    Thanks Amber.

    Headed over to check out the rest of your blog now . . . .

    • Rusted,

      I appreciate you checking out my blog. If you want to see Fake Follows, I recommend ManageFlitter. It’s one of my favorite tools.

  9. That’s one of the reasons I like and use Tweet Spinner and Social Bro. You can adjust settings to eliminate a lot of these less than optimal Tweeters from junking up your stream and follower count

  10. Excellent tips, Amberr. I need a good system for following and unfollowing. Do you have a software suggestion? Is there a good one or is it, as I suspect, something you just have to do yourself? I wrote about some of the things that I base following or unfollowing on in a blog about How to Improve Your Twitter bio…and I NEVER follow anyone who has no photo and just the egg or ANY or ALL of the #FollowBack hashtags. In fact, a bio that is filled with hashtags gets ignored by me. 

  11. writerlisamason /

    I am not so strict in my Twitter followers/following but honestly, my account is so old and so large, I don’t go through every single one on a regular basis. I don’t use automation software tools either but if I notice a spammer or an obvious fake account in my stream, I remove it. I check once a week or so for new followers and if they have interesting bios, I follow them back. My personal Facebook is smaller and more personalized. My Twitter network is very large and I like it that way. I want to seem approachable. I do agree on all that #TeamFollowBack stuff. I never got into those. 

    • Lisa, awesome insights. Remember I’m still with the “little league” on followers that one day I’ll probably become more nonchalant and take on more of your type of strategy. ;-)

  12. Amberr,

    Excellent advice! I do try to take full advantage of lists on twitter (In fact i am getting ready to do some updating on mine again! One nice thing about lists is if you can make them private too. I actually reserve a few of my lists as private for favorite blogs or family members with blogs or such. I don’t mind people following my lists or checking them out. I do reserve the right though that not everyone needs to find my family members blogs. It’s just my personal feeling on it. I have been using the program socialbro to help me tune-up my twitter some and see what people are tweeting about and how it can help my niche.

    Aaron

    • Aaron, I’ve heard feedback about socialbro several times in the comments, so obviously I need to check those out. I really love the conversation this post has sparked. I’ve shared some information and have gleaned some valuable information. Win-win.

  13. All great points, Amberr! Totally agree, too, on not Following those who don’t even have a profile pic. That’s always been a major annoyance to me.

  14. Lol… those who haven’t hatched from their eggs :) I agree with you 100% – I never follow the eggheads.

    I love Twitter debates because there are so many ways to do Twitter and too many people seem to think they’ve figured out THE way. The awesome thing about Twitter is you can do it however the heck you please. Want to follow everyone? More power to you. Want to NOT follow anyone? Good luck! I also don’t like the whole “follow back” thing but generally I will follow people back as a courtesy even if I don’t think they’re going to be that interesting. As long as they’re not spammy or bots, it’s not like my Twitter list is going to implode or something. Great points here!

    • I like that…Your Twitter stream won’t implode. Good point! Everyone has different ways of doing things, so you just do what works for you.

  15. UR singing my song sis :D Enjoyed & practice the 5 points in this post. And in the interest of full disclosure to others reading this, yes @amberrisme & i follow each other on twitter :D

  16. I laughed out loud ” I don’t follow those that haven’t hatched from their eggs”….. Loved the entire article. Bravo!
    Best,
    Patricia

  17. Sookie, I had a feeling you had a method, and it’s been a pleasure following you for a minute now ;-)

  18. I follow exactly the same philosophy for exactly the same reasons! Admittedly, at times tempting to gain followers, tho sticking to my religion~ works foe me ;) GR8 post Amber :))

  19. Love this post! And I had to laugh out loud at the Egg title. Very true. I have shared!

  20. Thank you for succinctly putting into words what I have learned since being on Twitter!
    My time is too valuable to waste on vapid, narcissistic tweets that do nothing to uplift, inform, inspire or amuse me. As I told those I unfollow, don’t take it personally, either you haven’t acknowledged my existence or my timeline is overcrowded with trivial tweets.
    Have a great day!

  21. I feel exactly the same way. I don’t do the auto-follow because it’s a pain in the butt. As a consequence people take themselves off after a few days because I don’t follow them back. I follow a small amount of peoples & even less follow me. That jumped when I joined a fan club but is still under 15. I’m happy with this. I tried to follow what I think you might have referred to as an “autobot” tweeter but it’s doing my head in so I’m stopping it now. Quality over quantity is definitely the way to go with this medium. Otherwise when you get on there to look you’re trolling through heaps of useless junk that you’re not interested in to find what you were looking for in the first place. I find the mobile notifications great for sifting out the self-serving tweets. I have it set up to notify me when my favourite’s that I follow tweet so I don’t miss them.

  22. It is a pleasure to share the tidbits I find to be useful.

  23. Ryan, not a bad tactic. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have a blog post up for tonight, and I am generally very consistent. Perhaps I should spend more energy elsewhere. ;-)

  24. Steve, this is why I love TwitCleaner and ManageFlitter. Does the work for me quickly.

  25. A pleasure to share it here, Mary!

  26. Thank you so much!

  27. For the most part I’m with you Amberr. And I think all this who follows who junk is just silly. I follow people I’m interested in what they post and that I want to keep up with what they have to say. And of course that’s not every one. It leaves out a lot of people many who are often very popular and have large followings. But what they share isn’t something I’m interested in. And I don’t follow people because they will follow or not follow me back. They should do that if and only if they are interested in what I write and share. Anything else is just number chasing and doesn’t mean anything. And I can understand when it’s the same for those I’m following as it is for me. Maybe what I have to say isn’t of interest to them. And it doesn’t offend me or hurt my feelings if they don’t follow me back and if it hurts their feeling when they follow me and I don’f follow back I can’t control that and if they drop me they drop me.

    Anyway I would much rather have a few followers that truly follow and interact than thousands of “ghost” followers that are never seen or heard.

  28. Mark Ackerman /

    Great post, Amberr.
    By the way, I came across a great service recently that claims to help you grow a
    targeted Twitter fan base by growing your followers organically. A
    colleague of mine is using it and says they do a brilliant job. They are called
    http://www.TwitterConsult.com. Worth looking into

    • Mark, thanks so much. I’m going to have to check it out. Growing organically and doing it well? Hope it is not too good to be true! ;-)

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