Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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December 30, 2013

Do You Clean Up Your Twitter Account? (3 Easy Tips)

by Jenny Hansen

Twitter LogoIf you know everything about Twitter, detest Twitter, or plan to never use it, you can probably skip this post.

For the rest of you: This is one of the most easy-to-implement social media posts I've ever done here at WITS. Enjoy!

It's the beginning of a new year this week, and a great time to form some new social media habits.

One great New Year's step is to update your profiles on your various social media tools. Make sure your achievements and links are up to date.

A few months back, I did my yearly Twitter clean-up in Tweepi, which is something I recommend you try.

Mind you, I don't advocate doing this very often. It's time consuming to go through all the people you follow 20 at a time. That's all you can see at once on the free version of Tweepi, so this will yearly clean-up will take you an hour (or more, depending on how many people you follow).

Why do I recommend you do this yearly?

  • It immerses you in who you followed and why, encouraging you to reach out to some people you might not have talked to for a while.
  • You need to periodically clean out the bots and people who have abandoned Twitter - they're skewing your numbers (more on that later).
  • Tons of people follow others to get the follow-backs, then they unfollow everyone. This rude behavior leaves the Twitter newbies stuck with really high following numbers with a bunch of people who will never follow them back.
  • If you do a lot of mass following/unfollowing, it can get you thrown into Twitter jail.

Information on Twitter follow ratio rules can be found here. I recommend you click that link and read it well. Or, if you need hand-holding, take Marcy Kennedy's Twitter classes...they're excellent!

Back to the yearly Twitter Clean-up...

Do I believe in unfollowing everyone who doesn't follow you?

NO. This is as rude as those narcissists spam-bots who follow just to get the follow-back.

There are people like J.K. Rowling and Harlan Coben, who I follow just because I love their books. I follow some agents and publishers because I need their information. I follow The Bloggess because she makes me laugh. I don't expect any of them to follow me back.

Which leads me to the next part of this post...

What is my criteria for unfollowing someone?

After spending more than an hour cleaning things up, I was pretty clear on this.

The three things most likely to make me unfollow someone:

1. They've never tweeted.

Ditto for someone who hasn't used their account in 6+ months. I start giving people the hairy eyeball at about 2-3 months of inactivity but if we're mutually following each other, I'll cut them some slack for life craziness.

Did y'all catch that?

2. Someone who ISN'T following me back gets closer scrutiny.

Hey, I'm human just like the next gal. We're all children/parents/workers/bloggers, etc. Our time is limited, and incredibly valuable, and we want to spend it with people we have a connection with.

If you've conversed with me, re-tweeted me, followed me or generally blown some sunshine my direction, I'm going to follow you. I just am. It's something nice I can do to say thanks.

Note: The only exception to this are the spam-bots who are doing these things to get followers. They're pretty to easy to spot once you've been on social media for a while.

When I do my once-a-year foray into Tweepi to look at who I'm following, if I see you in the "I'm Following" category (rather than "Mutual" which means we follow each other), I'm going to take a peek at your Twitter profile. Why do you think the process takes me so long?

Because I'm just as busy as everyone else, and have 3-4,000 people to wade through, if we're following each other, I'm probably just going to look to see if you're an active user, as I discussed above.

Just by tweeting every week or so, you are spared a closer look by most people during their clean-up. How easy is that??

3. Someone I know I've interacted with, who isn't following me.

If I've interacted with someone online, I follow or friend them. Ditto if we're in a writing chapter, Triberr group, or online chat together.

I know everyone doesn't engage in this sort of friendly behavior, and I don't expect everyone to love my stuff. It's okay if someone doesn't reach back out to me. If I dig them and they're an active user of that platform (in this case Twitter), the two of us stay connected.

But what about those evil people who make nice with you and/or follow you, and you KNOW once upon a time the two of you were connected and had a chat?

They've earned a closer look in Tweepi by not being on the mutual follow list and Eeeeky! When you look at their Twitter profile, they've got 4,255 followers, but they're following 300 people. That one makes my blood boil.

I call social media party foul!

Why is my time so much less valuable than yours? It's not like you have four hundred thousand followers, and the huge demands fame adds to one's life. There is absolutely no reason why your Follower/Following numbers aren't closer in alignment.

Aaaaaand, I've just cleared you off my list.

I'm just one lowly blogger/writer/tech trainer. Y'all don't have to listen to a single word of this, though I hope you will.

Others have done great posts on Twitter. Kristen Lamb, Marcy Kennedy, Penny Sansevieri and Chuck Wendig are all people who have nifty stuff to say on the subject.

In fact, a few years back, Chuck summed up Twitter as follows:

Nobody can really tell you how to use Twitter. Twitter is a conversation and you can join it as you like. That’s the joy of it, and that’s the hell of it. Sure, I think the things I said here are true, but I can’t make you do differently. However you want to enter the conversation is up to you. My only suggestion is, do it. Have the conversation. Engage. Be social — “social” is the key word of “social media.”

Are you active on social media? Do you ever "clean up" your accounts? (Why or why not?) Do you have a social media game plan/strategy? How did you develop it? I can't wait to see what y'all have to say down in the comments!

~ Jenny

Need a Monday pick-me-up? Hop on over to More Cowbell for 8 Fun (Mostly True) Facts About Mondays.

About Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after her toddler Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA, on the SocialIn Network, or here at Writers In The Storm.

48 comments on “Do You Clean Up Your Twitter Account? (3 Easy Tips)”

  1. Oh man, Jenny, thanks for the reminder, and the tips! I went in and started to do this a couple of months ago, but got overwhelmed. I'm going to go back in with your tips on a cheat sheet next to me, and finish the job!

    Very timely too - I love going into a New Year, all caught up and sitting pretty!

    1. I knew you'd go: "Ooooh, shiny!!!" And Laura, if you're low on time, just check and see who hasn't tweeted in months/years and axe them from your list. You can go do the rest later.

  2. Glurg!

    My New Year SM goal is to get active, for crumb's sake. How many great conversations are happening in chat threads that I'm missing? It gives me hives to think about it.

    I got an iPad for Christmas.

    [pause for happy dance]

    I am hoping easy access to Twitter will improve my spur-of-the-moment interaction and get me engaged in the Twitter-Verse. Thanks for the kick-start! Happy, happy New Year!

    1. Wooo-hoooo to the iPad! You know I lust for one, but I do have a Surface so I can't be too greedy.

      Yep, I do all a lot of my social media on the fly via my phone and the tablet. It's easier to be active if you're in front of the TV, brushing your teeth, cooking, or on your way to bed with an already-sleeping spouse. It just is. 🙂

  3. That Tweepi is awesome. Thanks Jenny! Cleaning up is a lot of work. I went through the people I follow who don't follow me back, but the mutual follows are going to take a lot longer. Definitely a several day cleaning job. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    1. Samantha, it's definitely a lot of work, which is part of why I only do it once a year. And I do it during another task that takes time, such as baking or waiting for something to dry. If you've been on Twitter for a while, you're talking about going through potentially thousands of people, so you've got to plan on at least a few hours.

  4. Jenny, you waved a shiny thing in front of my face, called Tweepi! I had never heard of Tweepi so of course I dropped everything and dove in. Now I'm all cleaned up and ready for 2014. Now on to research and revisions. Thanks for helping me clean out the dead wood!

  5. Oh, duh. I'm such a newbie Twitter user that it never even occurred to me to see if the people I followed were following me, or to think about what that might mean in terms of how people "see" me. One of my New Year's resolutions is to try to put the "social" back into my social media, so thank you so much for this useful post, Jenny!

    1. Everybody feels that way when they get involved in social media. You just don't know what you don't know. 🙂

      For social media know-how, my three fave teachers are Kristen Lamb, Marcy Kennedy (Twitter) and Lisa Hall-Wilson (Facebook). You can't go wrong with anything from the three of them, or really any of the WANA International instructors. http://www.wanaintl.com

    1. Wonderful, Kris! And I hope that to-do list isn't super long. 🙂

      When you are in Tweepi, it will show you whether "You follow," "They follow," or you "Follow each other." (I think that one is "Both follow." It's very straightforward.

    1. It's my pleasure, Marcy! Your Twitter classes are the best I've ever come across. I think they should be a must-take for all newbie tweeters, especially if they're writers. 🙂

    1. Debbie, I love that it's free and easy to jump in an use once a year. It's true that you only see 20 people at a time, but still quite effective. I'm glad you liked it. 🙂

    1. Holy cats! Hacked in a language you don't even understand. That's beyond annoying. This is why you never click on any of those links and report all spam. Twitter takes care of these people if we all do that. 🙂

  6. I'm afraid after the last two years and heavy shifting of the short term plans, I need to really gut my follower counts. A lot of people I followed that I really wouldn't now, and I'm sure I've gotten booted off of people's list for being absent.

    1. Hey, Digital Magician! While you're gutting your follower accounts, will you also update your magnificent TweetDeck guide? I still send people to that all the time. 🙂

      Welcome back!

  7. I have a Twitter account but I don't really know what to do with it (and I'm a gen-Y...what gives?) but this year I'm going to get to grips with it and make it work very hard for me. Thanks for all the tips.

    1. LOL, LittleMissW. The Gen-Y comment slayed me. 🙂

      I hate to be shoving Marcy at you, but really...go click on her classes. Not only will she get you dialed in, she'll explain the why of oh-so-many Twittery things. I promise you will walk away after a few months feeling like a Twitter Rockstar.

  8. I agree 100%. I use Tweepi about twice a year. I follow news organizations and magazines that of course aren't going to follow back. Agents, too. (But sometimes they surprise you and follow--maybe even interact.) But like you, I unfollow non-participants and share your anger at people who follow 30 people and have 1000s of followers. OK, Kevin Spacey (or whoever tweets for him) follows 4 people. But if you're not Kevin Spacey--or maybe even if you are--if you're that uninterested in the rest of the world, I'm probably wasting my time following you.

    1. Kevin Spacy only follows 4 people? That cad!! And to think he had me at Keyser Söze. 🙂

      Nice to see you here at WITS, Anne. I always love your take on all things social media and writing.

  9. Holy cow! I'm your crit partner and you didn't tell me this! Okay, so we were busy critting--I'll let this go. You are still my Computer/Media Queen. Thing is it's 1:25 in the morning and that darn Tweepi is now calling my name.

    1. That Tweepi was calling your name because you have jetlag! And no, I didn't tell you...I could geek out half the day, every day, if y'all didn't keep me on track. 🙂

  10. Great post. I'm in the middle of doing a clear out. Not using anything as I'm only at following 1kish but noticed I followed more than followed me so time for a clear-up. I use the same criteria as you and looking forward to being all sorted for a new year in tweetsville...

    1. Thanks, Lynne! Thanks for stopping in to say hi to us as WITS.

      Even at 1kish, I'd totally use a tool like Tweepi. It makes it go a lot faster than wading through that many profiles. However, if your process is working for you and you are actually cleaning out the sludge, keep going for it. It makes a world of difference. 🙂

  11. Thanks so much for recommending Tweepi. It certainly looks better than what I was using. I'm still very "small time" on Twitter, but want to start this now so it's a good habit going forward. I'll check out Marcy's classes, too!

  12. Thanks, Jenny, this is great. I discovered a couple of Tweepi features that might speed up the process: You can change the number of entries per screen to 40 using the free version. All you have to do is tweet about Tweepi when prompted. (You can change the default message if you like.) Also, you can sort the list by the date of the last tweet, so you don't have to skim through the entire list if you just want to delete people who haven't tweeted in a while. (My criteria is 6 months for people I don't know.)

    1. Nice, Andrea! Thanks for playing, and sharing the results with the rest of us. I've never delved too deeply into Tweepi -- I just use it to clean house. Thanks for clicking and scoping out the features!

  13. Also, a caveat: If the Last Tweet column reads "unknown / never," that means either they've never tweeted OR their tweets are protected. Be sure to check which it is before unfollowing them!

    1. Yes, but that whole "protected tweets" thing is bizarre to me. If you don't want the world to know what you're saying, why don't you just use email? Why bother with Twitter? What do you think...have you found a good reason for the whole "protected tweets" thing?

      1. People might protect their tweets because they want to interact with a specific group (like their peers), but don't want another group (boss, parents, Uncle Sam) to be able to see what they're tweeting. I don't think it makes sense for authors, whether aspiring or otherwise, to protect their tweets. Their ultimate goal should be to interact with potential readers, which means the general public.

  14. For those of us too cheap/poor/unknown enough, there's a free app for "unfollowing" called NotFollow.me that tells you who isn't following you and lets you delete the cads among them...

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