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Why I’m not participating in the “Great twitter unfollow experiment”

Dear Reader,

Short answer:
I don’t need to. I don’t auto-follow and create the false impression that I want to engage with everyone who follows me.

Long answer:
At the beginning of the month, Chris Brogan, someone I usually respect and keep an eye on, posted on his blog that he was unfollowing all the people he followed on twitter. Then Michael Hyatt did the same. I’ve been amused as I’ve watched others tweet or post that they are following suit. Just recently now, Brogan posted an update on his unfollow experiment. In it he states that he has learned that it upset some people. Honestly, how could you expect anything but anger and resentment, along with a large dose of apathy.

For my own part, one day before Brogan released his initial post, I wrote “Social Media Strategy Guide for Busy Developers“. In that post I wrote the following:

It makes me sad when I see someone following 20,000 people on twitter. I know they aren’t reading all of them and engaging with them; their timeline looks more like the fire-hose. They are just collecting people like Pokémon cards.

I think that the people that follow thousands of people on twitter are being dishonest. It’s even worse when someone at Brogan’s level of popularity auto-follows people that follow him. Following someone on Twitter is the equivalent of saying, “I am interested in what you have to say, I want to engage with you.” If you are following 500 people on twitter, there is no way you can engage with them all. What most end up doing is creating filters to get the noise level down to people they *really* care about engaging with. In my opinion, that’s dishonest. Everyone you follow feels connected to you – albeit in a “6 Degrees from Kevin Bacon” kind of way – but you are lying to them by following them and then filtering them out.

Don’t be dishonest with your twitter followers. Don’t follow people you aren’t seriously interested in engaging. Keep it to the essentials but then engage with the people you follow. Tweet your passion to those following you, keep your followers list short enough so that you can engage with them regularly.

Until next time,
I =C=

p.s. no offense intended for either Chris Brogan or Michael Hyatt, I still hold each of you in high esteem. I’m glad they have learned the lesson, even if it was painful.

4 thoughts on “Why I’m not participating in the “Great twitter unfollow experiment”

  1. I’ve also never been able to understand how someone could follow hundreds or thousands of people on Twitter. My personal limit is 100 and some days even that seems like too many (usually during awesome conferences I couldn’t attend – I’m looking at you funconf).

    I do recommend regularly reviewing who you follow and weeding out people that aren’t providing value to make room for others that could. Every few months works for me.

  2. I do have to agree. I also never could grasp why some people auto-follow on twitter, or accept each and every invite from people they don’t even know on Facebook.

    I like to think of social media as ways to keep tabs on people and topics that are important to you, nothing more.

  3. Hah, I read your tweet with this link on it just as I was un-following some people because my twitter feed is out of hand. It doesn’t bother me that much that I miss a lot of tweets, but when my stream scrolls by so fast I can barely read the tweets sometime, that is too many people. I used to feel I should follow anyone who RT’d me or mentioned me – if they’re so nice, I should be nice back. But it is just too crazy. I feel bad if I offend someone by un-following them, it makes it seem that I don’t value some people as much as others, but I have to depend on the people that I DO follow to tweet links that are helpful for me, or RT good tweets from people I don’t follow.

  4. Great post, Cal! I agree 100%.

    Whenever I see someone following tens or hundreds of thousands of people I automatically assume that they are not authentically engaged with their followers and it makes me think that they are a phony. Am I Jumping to conclusions? Perhaps. But, as someone who works professionally in social media there are a ton of talented folks that I want to follow and engage with. However, I am very selective about who I follow. If I follow you, you should know that I genuinely care about what you have to say and want to interact with you… like, for real! About 6 months ago I signed up for one of those “find out who unfollows you” twitter sites. Before you judge me, here is why… I realized that there were people following me for the SOLE purpose of hoping that I’d auto follow them back just because they were following me. I noticed that everyone who was unfollowing me were users that had just been following me for a week or less (that I had not followed back)! Bougus! So, I am in total support of selective following and not following all of your followers out of courtesy or because it’s the “nice thing to do.” Because you know what? Being fake and following back when you do not care to authentically engage is not nice and it is not doing a service to anyone. And, to be blatantly honest, I hope that none of my followers have followed me back out of courtesy. And if you did, you can go ahead and click “unfollow” now. I’d rather have a few hundred followers that are interested in what I have to say than a whole slew of ’em who don’t give a rat’s a**. Because after all, I’m on Twitter to engage with others, not to win a trophy for most # of followers. I’ll leave that to the shameless self-promoters of the world.

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