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Cleaning up twitter with Just Unfollow

So you’re on twitter and you want to get more out of it. The easiest way is to trim the fat – unfollow all of those accounts that aren’t adding anything to your tweetstream. I just did this and feel lighter. 1,350 followers lighter, in fact.

I did two separate things: I unfollowed just about everyone who hadn’t tweeted in at least a month, and I unfollowed a large number of the people who weren’t following me back.

Why do this, you might ask?

why

Honestly, if you’re just a casual user of Twitter following a few hundred people, it probably doesn’t matter at all. But if you’re a slightly more active user of twitter…

limits

Twitter puts limits on how many people you can follow without having a certain number of people following you back. Basically, you can follow up to 2,000 people no matter how many (or few) are following you back. But, once you’re following 2,000 people you may run into trouble following more. So, if you want to follow more people but can’t because of this limit, then getting rid of the dead weight – people you are following who simply don’t tweet – will help free up those spots so that you can follow more interesting accounts.

Heavy Twitter users like myself run into a different problem, especially if we use Twitter for professional reasons, and it’s one that’s harder to define. While I have no evidence of this, I think my Klout score is probably affected somewhat by the number and “quality” of Twitter accounts I’m following (and by quality I don’t mean how I define it, I mean how Klout defines it, and frankly I have no idea how they define it). So if I’m following accounts that don’t tweet, I may be hurting my Klout score. Since Klout is starting to affect the work I get, I need to pay attention to that.

Get rid of the dead weight

I used JustUnfollow.com. There is a free version, but it limits you to only 25 unfollows a day. Or, you can double your limit to 50 by tweeting about the site (instructions will appear once you hit the limit). If you don’t have a lot of cleaning up to do – or you don’t mind doing a little each day – the free version is great. [Update: Thanks to Liz for clarifying in the comments that once you send that one tweet, your limit is permanently increased to 50/day - you don't have to keep sending out the tweet each day.]

However, I had a lot of cleaning to do, so I upgraded to the premium version, which is only $9.99 for a year of no unfollow limits.

After authorizing Just Unfollow to access my twitter account, I clicked on their newest feature, Show Inactive Following. I was quickly able to see who hadn’t tweeted in a month or more. With a couple of exceptions, I got rid of them all.

JustUnfollowdotcom

700 people

Get rid of non-followers

This is a more difficult one for me to justify, because I’m following about one-quarter of the people who follow me. But using Just Unfollow I went through the thousand or so people I was following who weren’t following me, and got rid of about two-thirds of them.

If I didn’t recognize them at all – the twitter handle was unfamiliar, the picture didn’t ring a bell – I got rid of them. At one time we were probably following each other, so I was really just finishing what they had started.

I kept the people I instantly recognized. These are people whose tweets interest me, no matter whether they follow me or not. I don’t care if they’re not following me back, they make twitter interesting.

I kept all of the celebs. I really don’t expect Charlie Sheen to follow me back, but I still get a kick out of watching his crazyboat sail by in my twitter stream.

And now I’m done tinkering for a while.

A note about Twitoria

I tried out about a dozen services before settling on Just Unfollow. I ultimately picked it based on its ease of use, the services it offered, and price. I wasn’t planning on reviewing the ones I didn’t choose. But one of them was so bad, I feel like I need to warn you away from it. Twitoria gave me a list of people it said had NEVER tweeted.

Twitoria

It was page after page filled mostly with accounts I’ve tweeted with personally, or whose tweets I’ve seen many times. Now, I can’t tell you for 100% certain that Just Unfollow didn’t make any mistakes, but I didn’t notice any – every person they said hadn’t tweeted in a month or more looked accurate to me. Maybe Twitoria is simply suffering from a temporary glitch, but I would stay away.

And what about Friend or Follow?

A lot of people I know use Friend or Follow. In fact, I think it’s probably the best known of all of these sites and services. I even signed up for the premium service, thinking it was worth trying out for $9.99. After signing up however, I realized it was $9.99 per MONTH, not per year. That’s ridiculous. Luckily there’s a seven-day trial period, so I was able to immediately cancel without being charged for the first month.

Besides the price though, I found it to be very buggy.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.

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34 Responses to “Cleaning up twitter with Just Unfollow”

  1. Emma on September 21st, 2011 1:55 pm
    1

    I really need to just delete my twitter account I haven’t used it since February I think and I keep getting spam notifications from it.
    Sorry for cluttering up your list :-)

    Amy Reply:

    @Emma: Trust me, I know how it is. I have several accounts I haven’t used in forever, plus some I’m squatting on so that other people don’t impersonate me.

  2. Liz on September 21st, 2011 2:03 pm
    2

    I’ve been using Just Unfollow since last week (the free version, deleting 50 a day) and if people do go the free route, you only have to send that tweet once to get the 50 per day limit, as opposed to sending the tweet every day after hitting the 25 limit. I don’t have THAT much cleaning out to do so I don’t mind logging in each day and picking up where I left off, but then again, I also don’t use it for Klout purposes and all that like you do I can see where the investment is a good one. Love this tool!

    Amy Reply:

    @Liz: Thanks for clarifying that – having only used it today (and then paying the fee after tweeting) I wasn’t sure if you had to tweet it each day or not.

  3. Denise on September 21st, 2011 2:44 pm
    3

    Thanks Amy! I’ve been seeing people tweet about Just Unfollow but I haven’t had time to figure out what it does or why I should try it. Your post… exactly what I needed.

    (You didn’t unfollow your stalker errr biggest fan, right? lol) :-)

    Amy Reply:

    @Denise: I would NEVER unfollow my stalker. I try to make myself accessible to all of my (non-crazy) stalkers.

  4. Mom101 on September 21st, 2011 3:15 pm
    4

    I understand so much of what you’re saying. Lots of great points. But I have to admit, I squirmed at the mention of Klout.

    My greatest fear when Klout launched is that people would start paying attention to it. And when they did, they would stop following accounts they liked, or tweeting with people they enjoyed tweeting with because it would “hurt my Klout score.” It’s always seemed to me like a creepy, awful slippery slope down to “I can’t talk to you because you’re not important enough.”

    Not that that’s what you’re saying, (because I know you are very nice in person!) but screw Klout scores. I follow coworkers who tweet once every four months because I feel like in real life it would be rude not to. I’d rather maintain real life relationships than have 2 more points according to a flawed algorithm that says I’m influential about Amy Winehouse.

    But eh, I think I’m in the minority about such things these days.

    Amy Reply:

    @Mom101: I totally get what you’re saying about Klout. I poo-pood it for a long time. (Still do.) But I’ve put it in the same box as the kids’ standardized tests: even though I hate the idea of them, and actively speak against them, I still do what I reasonably can to make sure the kids do well on them.

    Mom101 Reply:

    I guess what I’m thinking is that now, instead of Klout evaluating how people interact socially through digital media, it’s now influencing how people interract. Which by definition takes away everything that’s authentic and genuine and wonderful about social media, ya know?

    I’m interested to see if your score goes up after this cleansing. Let us know!

    Amy Reply:

    @Mom101: Ugh. Totally true. And sadly it just strengthened my test analogy: I’m kowtowing to Klout the same way teachers are now teaching to the test.

    Mom101 Reply:

    @Amy: Let’s overthrow the system!

    Liz Reply:

    @Mom101: I’m not a fan of it either and (as someone in PR) refuse to use it to determine relevance. That is, until someone forces me to, but as of right now: ignored. Klout Schmout.

  5. Tamara on September 21st, 2011 3:56 pm
    5

    Thanks for the post! I’ve used friend or follow for cleaning, but it’s not super helpful. I care more about cleaning out the people who don’t tweet at all rather than making sure I only follow people who follow me back.

    Amy Reply:

    @Tamara: Keep in mind, I didn’t unfollow certain people simply because they didn’t follow me back, I unfollowed them because I had no idea who they were or why I was following them in the first place. For years I followed everybody who @d me or RTd me, without bothering to check out whether or not I had any interest in what they were saying and how they were choosing to use twitter. That was a huge mistake on my part that I’m finally correcting.

  6. Annie on September 21st, 2011 4:04 pm
    6

    I think twitter maintenance is essential. I use friend or follow in a similar way to you. The other service I find essential is TwitCleaner. It identifies several different categories of “dodgy” twitter accounts, which includes people who haven’t tweeted in a while, people who only tweet links, people who never engage in conversation, people whose tweets all come from bots, etc.

    It helps me to find and unfollow people that I used to tweet with, but who no longer tweet, but haven’t disabled the auto tweets of their horoscope, “daily”, workout stats, and foursquare checkins.

    Amy Reply:

    @Annie @ PhD in Parenting: Thanks for the tip – I’m definitely going to check out twitcleaner!

  7. Kristin on September 21st, 2011 4:18 pm
    7

    I’m a small fry, but even at my itsy-bitsy (teenie-weenie?) level, I’ve had to unfollow people just because I rarely looked at my twitter stream anymore. Whereas I used to read it for news/funny stuff/interesting stuff, I found that I was just lazily skimming without even seeing what was passing by. Now I unfollowed about ten percent, and voila! Much happier.

    What I find highly amusing is the occasional tweets that say: “Oh my gawd! I talked about [fill in innocuous comment] and I lost 12 followers! A-holes!” I mean, really? Offended – or pretending to be – by people you don’t even know acting like they don’t know you?

    ps: Glad to have re-found Selfish Mom. I used to check out your sleepy podcasts when I lived in BK. You’re now going in the “follow” list.

    Amy Reply:

    @Kristin: Yay! Funny, I’m sitting in a conference right now that’s largely about video streaming and vlogging…thinking of starting that up again in some way…

  8. Jen Stayrook on September 21st, 2011 4:35 pm
    8

    I didn’t even know Klout took into consideration the people that YOU followed. I just assumed it was how much you tweet and how many @replies you got per tweet. Shows how much I know.

    But, I regularly go through and trim my following list because that restraining order prohibits me from being withing 5 internet miles of Hugh Jackman at all times. My PO is tired of warning me.

    Amy Reply:

    @Jen Stayrook: Keep in mind, I’m largely guessing here. Raising my klout score wasn’t on my mind when I sat down the other morning to clean things up, but I think it will probably end up being a benefit.

  9. Nellie on September 22nd, 2011 8:58 am
    9

    Although I am admittedly new to the blogospere, I have been on twitter for about 3 years and this Klout thing doesn’t impress me, it almost feels like a cool kids club that most of us will never have the time or energy to invest in.

    I appreciate the tools! Looks like some folks I followed unfollowed me somewhere down the line, and it was awesome to clean that up! Thanks!

    Amy Reply:

    @Nellie: That’s actually how I feel about Facebook. I don’t get it, I don’t like it, so I mostly don’t use it. There’s such a blurry line for me between things I do for fun and things I do for work, and if I can get away with not doing something for work that I don’t like to do without dooming my business, I don’t do it.

  10. jodifur on September 22nd, 2011 1:20 pm
    10

    Do you just unfollow or do you also block? Someone told me it is better to block because than your follow/following #s aren’t so far apart and it looks more like you “engage.” blocking seems a tad extreme to me.

    Amy Reply:

    @jodifur: Gah! Seriously? I only block (and report) spam accounts. Oh, and the guy last week who made a snide comment about my sex life.

  11. Denise-EPL on September 22nd, 2011 10:46 pm
    11

    I’ve always been very honest about Twitter being my happy place. When someone in my timeline starts to agitate me over a period of time (example: excessive political tweets), I find it easy to unfollow them. I like to keep my timeline very dialed in from lots of static as I like to refer to it, which means people who are constantly advertising for brands, 4sq, or auto updates. It’s not necessarily that I don’t like the person I unfollow, we just have different purposes for how we utilize Twitter.

    I love how engaging Twitter is for me, so that’s why I unfollow with few regrets.

    Amy Reply:

    @Denise-EPL: I like your attitude. I wish I’d had it from the beginning. Originally I would follow anyone who @-ed me or RT-ed me without even checking them out – I thought it was the polite thing to do. So I still have a lot more people to unfollow. As I see tweets by unfamiliar people go by I try to check them out, and decide whether to unfollow or not. You’re absolutely right that it doesn’t necessarily mean that I unlike those people as people, I just don’t find what they say on Twitter particularly relevant to me.

    I just posted something a few minutes ago that you may find interesting, about Proxlet. It’s a really easy way to block things like FourSquare, Triberr etc. from polluting your Twitter stream.

  12. amy on September 23rd, 2011 9:12 am
    12

    Amy. Loved this post and found it incredibly helpful. Going to clean up my twitter life right now.

    Awesome. Gracias.

  13. Alexandra on September 26th, 2011 12:35 am
    13

    Thank you.

    I’ve been doing this manually, and have become just about cross eyed.

    Just unfollow will make it nice and easy.

    I just began following everyone back b/c I didn’t want to hurt feelings..but, that’s just not working.

    Amy Reply:

    @Alexandra: Same story here. I didn’t want to be “rude.” So now I’m following hundreds of people I don’t find interesting.

  14. Maris (In Good Taste) on October 2nd, 2011 12:35 pm
    14

    I did this too and was actually unfollowed back by a lot of people, which I thought was so passive aggressive and petty. If I am unfollowing you because you don’t tweet, or you don’t tweet about the topics I am interested in reading about (or maybe I follow your blog or FB or RSS feed or whatever and get your updates elsewhere), that shouldn’t automatically render you uninterested in what I have to say.

    Glad to see someone else doing the big “unfollow.”
    Maris (In Good Taste) recently posted..Starting Again: Baked Pumpkin DonutsMy Profile

    Amy Reply:

    @Maris (In Good Taste): I agree, very petty. But maybe it prompted them to do some cleanup of their own, who knows. In the end I’m more concerned with the people I follow being interesting than who follows me.

  15. Anne on November 25th, 2011 8:03 pm
    15

    Thanks so much for the tip! I didn’t have a ton of cleaning up to do, but that really did make it helpful to get rid of dead accounts.
    Anne recently posted..Contests, Giveaways and Sweepstakes, oh my!My Profile

  16. Kathy on November 27th, 2011 10:12 pm
    16

    Thank you for this! I found it very helpful and interesting! I followed the post featuring you/this blog entry from BlogHer. I have thought about trying to prune a bit on Twitter, but figured I be doing it one account at a time. I had no idea that there were services designed to help with this. Pretty cool! :)
    Kathy recently posted..Where is God?My Profile

  17. Christy on November 28th, 2011 9:58 am
    17

    Like Kathy, I clicked over from BlogHer – I’m trying to figure out this Twitter thing, especially since my son’s on it now and already can navigate it better than I can! Thanks for the ideas and thought-starters.
    Christy recently posted..How Sean got his card backMy Profile