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Dead Twitter BirdTwitter is a great platform to use as part of social media marketing plan, but if after using Twitter – following people, having people follow you, getting amplification by re-Tweets, etc. – you are not finding value, maybe it’s time to clean up your relationships!

After four and a half years on Twitter, my account is overdue for a purge. It’s bloated and is not as useful as it could be. For the first year or so on Twitter, there weren’t that many other people around, so we ALL followed EVERYONE.  I knew it was time to clean house because I was no longer reading my Twitter stream, but reading my Twitter lists or visiting people’s Twitter page directly. Part of me didn’t want to ‘offend’ anyone by un-following after I had already extended an olive branch. You know what? Chances are I’m not providing value, entertainment, knowledge, or a service to a good number of their accounts either. After finding TheTwitCleaner.com, I have started the process of the purge, and set a calendar entry for every six months to revisit the process. While I have no hard and fast rules for keeping a follower versus un-following, there are some general guidelines I have in my head as I visit each page TwitCleaner recommends to un-follow. Of course as they will state, these are suggestions, it’s up to you to visit each account and make your own judgment call.

I’m sharing my fast and loose guidelines for un-following a Twitter account here. Now you understand why I don’t follow you anymore — or why I still DO.

Un-Follow Guidelines:

  • You tweet in another language. It’s not you, it’s me. Sorry.
  • You offer no original content. If your entire Twitter stream consists of ReTweets that tells me you have no original thoughts or opinions of your own. If you are a business on Twitter, I will make exceptions, but not many.
  • Your Tweets are nothing but links back to your blog. Again, businesses I expect this from and are saved from the cut (@CNN this mean you) but as a HUMAN with a Twitter account, I want you to talk with me, not link-bait to your content. That’s what RSS is for.
  • You don’t have anything interesting to say above the fold. That’s right, I’m lazy. While the scroll wheel works fine on my mouse, I choose not to scroll to find conversations of value. You’re only as interesting as your last 10 Tweets.
  • You like to kill things. I am not joking here. Somehow I managed to follow a good number of hunters and fishermen. I’m not against hunting or fishing, but not a fan of shooting wolves from helicopters or details about breeding night crawlers let alone reading messages about it.  If your personal ethos or morals are in direct conflict with mine, you get un-followed.
  • You are overtly pornographic. Trust me when I say I’m no prude, but honestly, I don’t care about YOUR *personal* life, I care about MINE. And mine is not on Twitter.
  • You are pushing the ‘hard-sell’. Listen, we are all selling. All day, every day, we all are chasing coin. I am not interested in getting more Twitter followers, losing weight, getting whiter teeth, or higher rankings in Google. Well, actually, I am interested in all of those things, just not from YOU.  If all you talk about is your own product or company and providing no other value, I have no need to follow your account.
  • Anyone trying to sell me what my company already does. Seriously, did you even READ my bio before you started spamming my DM? I work at a social marketing and technology firm. I really don’t need to hire you to teach me how to use Twitter to increase traffic to my website.  If you aren’t selling but providing value, entertainment, or resources then I will follow the account.  It is when they reach out or auto-Tweet pitching to me it all turns sour.

Follow Guidelines:

  • You are a friend. A real life in the flesh friend that I would invite to my house for dinner. Even if you Tweet about your goldfish all day, I still love you and value the insane babbling you publish on Twitter.
  • Rockstars in my profession. Yes, it’s the popular kids thing to do, but they wouldn’t be rockstars if they weren’t providing value. Chances are a lot of them are my friends as well.  This seems to conflict with my guideline for not following people in my own industry.  Think of this as ‘aspirational marketing’ rather than stealing or stalking.
  • You provide a valuable community service. @RedCross and @InstantAmber are perfect examples. I will never drop an account where there is the possibility that just one message can save one life.
  • You are a business that ‘gets’ IT and knows how to use social media / social marketing to build community. Trust me, I have private lists for those of you that don’t get IT, as well as some slides in the conference talks I do.
  • You are a client or business industry I have my eye on. I’m a very good businesswoman. I know how to use the information that comes out of the magic box and onto a computer screen to work my business. By the time I walk in your front door, everything there is to know about your firm that’s in (digital) print has already been implanted on a chip in my brain.
  • You are a person that behaves like a human. Sometimes I just like to follow people because I find them interesting, or know other people that would find them interesting or valuable. Being a connector is just as important as being connected. Expand your circle, your interests, and maybe you will grow with it.

Twit Cleaner StatsFor now, this is what will get you kicked out of my club or in the door with a handshake. Don’t take it personally, it’s my club, not yours. You have every right to un-follow ME. Of course if you think I’ve un-followed your account in error and you are about to Tweet the meaning of life or the next PowerBall winning numbers, feel free to @ me and get my attention. But DM the PowerBall numbers to me, don’t make it public, I really don’t want to split the prize. I need a vacation and could use the coin.

I am finding myself un-following a good number of people/businesses but categorizing them in lists instead.  This is a GOOD thing (for me anyhow).  Filling up my Twitter stream with pages of links to Etsy items or makeup tips is counterproductive to me.  By having you on a list, I can still consume your ideas/content/links but on a better schedule for me.  Don’t take it personally, instead, find a way to make your content and message relevant to ME – then I’ll pay attention and open my wallet.

(Edited and republished from an article written by Lynette in 2010.)