Trimming the list

So I decided to run a little twitter experiment and for one week, I followed anyone who followed me.

I started the week with 619 followers and ended with 657. not a huge increase but enough to make a difference. Of course a lot of these were either bots or real people using services to latch on to new followers. I did notice a pattern when I followed back certain accounts I would get another three in quick succession. All very similar. – small businesses or self proclaimed experts wanting to expand their reach. The key here is, hardly any of them were local to me or had any sense of engagement, so using a service or script to auto-follow accounts isn’t a great idea.

One trend I saw was after a follow-back I got a DM thanking me. I’m sure some people like this “personal” touch but for me it felt clunky and a little too intrusive.

Though I did connect with some interesting new people, the overall impression was my timeline became extremely cluttered and a chore to read. After giving people a week I decided to trim the herd.

Not only did I stop following a lot of accounts that just posted links to their own stuff or re-tweeted links, I also used the opportunity to lose some of the deadwood I had collected. Accounts with no tweets in over a year, or services I no longer use/exist. Two such accounts were @Snitter (last post June ’08) which was my first Twitter client, built by Jonathan Snook, and @Gnolia (last post Sept ’10) the excellent social bookmarking service that is no longer with us. Some others I dropped where:

  • @spockusers
  • @flocker
  • @flock
  • @nextupdate
  • @edenbee
  • @trillianastra
  • @OfficialBB
  • @googlewave
  • @nexusonenews
  • @LimeRibbon
  • @vicwes
  • @musicvideos21
  • All of the refresh accounts from different cities
  • @sxsw

One important (in my mind at least) note to companies is this. If you go out of your way to find and follow accounts, you should make an equal effort monitoring them and find out why they stopped following. Not once did a get asked why I’d stopped following them. Not even from the accounts that DM’d me when I followed back. Engagement is the key here, and tailoring to your audience is going to be one of the primary factors for a company or brand to stand out succeed on Twitter.

But is wasn’t all abandoned accounts or spam – A couple accounts I unfollowed on Twitter I ended up following elsewhere. One such account is @memorycollector (she makes nice jewelry on etsy) who mostly posted links to her tumblr account which has a lot of interesting photography, so I follow that now instead.

I’m now down from following 746 accounts to 689. Your Twitter stream is obviously a personal thing. Mine is filled with people I know, people that will not only provide a fun distraction but that can also be a sounding board and a source of information. I’ve found I shouldn’t be afraid to re-evaluate that from time to time, and neither should you.

Flock has left the building

Flock was a browser that had a lot of promise.  For a time it was my favorite browser at work and home.  Built upon Mozilla it had a built in blogging component, RSS reader, and social network hooks.

I switched when they made the decision to lose a lot of those features and move forward using Chrome as a base.

Now, after being bought by Zynga, they are ditching the browser and concentrate on producing games for their new parent company.

I feel Flock was the last “independent” browser, and had a lot of promise with its baked in functionality, but with the rise of apps on mobile devices as well as sites offering their own addons, maybe its time was marked from the get-go.

My Twitter experiment closes

A week ago I wrote about following my followers on Twitter. Now my little experiment comes to a close.

Today is the last day I’ll automatically follow back.  Its been interesting to see some patterns emerge as well as getting a sense of what people & companies are using Twitter for.

There were some accounts I wanted to stop following instantly (but gave them the whole week) and others I was surprised I wasn’t following already.  The whole experience has been personally interesting and I will be posting later the why’s & wherefores of my decisions to stop following and maybe even blocking people.