Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Joined The Great Unfollow Movement

Photo by Shardox
Yesterday, after writing Deeper Engagement, More Value, and Less Noise In Social Media, I made the decision to unfollow around 3,400 accounts on Twitter and another couple hundred in Google Reader. At first, it was a little hard to do, but before long I was able to clear around 400 per hour.

What made it difficult for me was the fear that I would lose value. Would I still be able to get the latest news? Would everyone unfollow me because I unfollowed them first?

What made it easier to unfollow accounts was the realization that by automating a follow policy, I followed a number of accounts that I would never follow had I been the one pressing the button. While I'm sure Twitter saved me some work by removing spammy accounts, there were still a large group of them.

In addition to bots and spammy accounts, I am aware that I unfollowed a number of good and interesting people. If you were one of those people, please understand that it was not personal. I just needed to regain control over my stream.

With that written, the realization that I am disconnecting from the majority of those who follow me caused me to ask the question. Why did they follow me to begin with? Below are a few reasons I came up with:

  • Increased Follower Count - Some users may have followed knowing that by following me they would get a matching follow in return. As a result, they increased their follower count.

  • News Source - Other users may have followed me because of my habit to share interesting news stories and related links.

  • Real Connection - The last group of users may have followed me because they sought to build or maintain a connection. This group includes friends, family, colleagues, and people I may have met online or in person. 
Two of the three groups were easy to manage. Those seeking increased follower numbers could care less that I unfollowed them and would probably unfollow me as a result. Those following me for the latest news will still  have their needs met, assuming they continue to follow.

The last group, those seeking a real connection, were harder to spot. I made a point to continue following those individuals that interacted with me on a regular basis. They may be readers of the blog, retweeters, or just regular engaging connections. Some of them I know really well and others not so much, but I felt compelled to maintain a connection with them.

It is possible that I unfollowed someone who meets the aforementioned criteria, but that can be easily remedied. Even as recent as this morning, I am still fine tuning my following list.

In the few short hours since my great unfollow campaign, I find it much easier to stay on top of things. My Google Reader feeds and Twitter streams are once again manageable and it feels great.

If you have recently changed your follow policy or thinking about doing something similar, I am interested in reading your thoughts. How does it feel? What are your motivations? Let's talk about it in the comment section below.
Twitter: To Follow Or Not To Follow, That Is the Question

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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