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How to Get Unfollowed on Twitter

by Fadra Nally on August 23, 2011

I started my Saturday like I would any other weekend. I opened the laptop and logged onto Twitter. It was probably due to the fact that one of my friends posed the question, “How do you manage your Twitter account?” She makes lists and tries to follow all the people she considers her “people” and yet she still feels like she doesn’t engage as well as she could.

I applaud her for that. She’s someone that gets that Twitter is great for personal conversations, great for tactfully written self-promotion, and great for building your network. But all of that is moot if you don’t have an engagement style that you are comfortable with.

So it got me to thinking about my account and all the people I follow. In my personal account, it was over 3800 people that I was following. That doesn’t mean all 3800 are on Twitter at the same time trying to get my attention. I think I’d go a little insane if that was the case.

On Saturday, I thought it might be time to examine exactly who I was following. Thank God, there are plenty of tools out there that make it easy for us to do that. One of my favorites is a tool called ManageFlitter. There are other tools that do the job but what this one does is best in my opinion. It scans your account and returns a result set that looks something like the following:

Now, I’m not a tit for tat person. I don’t expect reciprocity from every single person on Twitter. Some people are more selective than others and generally, I follow people because I’m interested in what they have to say. With ManageFlitter, though, I’m quickly able to see, for example, the people I’m following that aren’t following me back and are “Quiet” (meaning they don’t tweet often) or “Inactive” (meaning they haven’t tweeted in over a month). I can quickly and easily make decisions about who I want to keep in my timeline and who I can let go.

It’s not personal. It’s just management of my account. But I have to tell you, that sometimes when you are on the receiving end, it feels personal. As I was running the ManageFlitter report on my personal Twitter account, I noticed quite a few people that used to be following me, or that I thought were following me, were no longer doing so. And here’s what comes to mind…

What did I do wrong?

Did I offend someone?

Do I tweet too much?

Did I say the wrong thing?

And so I took my quandary to Twitter and I asked the simple question:

Knowing it was a Saturday afternoon on Twitter (generally not a busy time), I wasn’t sure if I would get many responses. But apparently, this is a topic people feel passionate about. I got more responses and engagement than I have in a while.

Clearly it’s something people have an opinion on. To summarize, here are what I found to be the top complaints.

    1. Constant retweeting. Whether it’s your stuff or you’re simply promoting someone else’s, too much of a good thing can be, well, too much. This includes the use of Triberr, a separate beast I plan to tackle on Thursday.
    2. Too much self-promotion. This is something that brands and bloggers should be paying attention to. Tweeting out your links to blog posts or product specials is great. But if that’s ALL you do, people will get annoyed and unfollow you. As a blogger, plan to tweet out your link a maximum of 3 times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening). Don’t harass people about it. As a brand, make sure you have 9 out of every 10 tweets to be non-product related. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about electronics if that’s your business. It just means that you need to be engaging with others and having a natural conversation.
    3. Ego boosting. It’s nice when someone says something nice about you. But when you retweet any time you are mentioned by anybody, it looks like you’re craving attention a little too much. A good deed isn’t such a good deed when you brag about it. Learn a little online humility.
    4. Undesirable content. This is definitely in the eye of the tweeter but you have to realize that not everyone wants to know about every giveaway. Not everyone wants to hear about how much you’re drinking tonight. Not everyone wants to hear @#$%^ as every other word in their timeline. That’s okay. It’s why we all have choices. Just know that you may not always be everyone’s cup of tea.
    5. Auto DMs. Although this only came up once, I love to mention this every chance I get. Nobody like autoDMs. Period Some people have a strict rule of unfollowing anyone that sends them one. Don’t believe me? Read all about it here.

So there you have it. Quick and easy ways to get yourself unfollowed on Twitter. Now, I’m off to try to figure out which one I did…

P.S. There are many unfounded rumors out there that Twitter will automatically unfollow people from your account from time to time. No one can explain it nor prove it so for now, I’ll still address it as a conspiracy theory.

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  • nic

    i find people who RT their #FF mentions to be entirely obnoxious and i have been known to unfollow based on that alone. if someone does a nice #FF mention of you, that’s sweet, but really to RT it makes you look like a prick.

    • Brenna

      People do that? Lametown.

  • Kristi

    This is great. I’m going to give manage Flitter a try. I’ve tried other tools, but have never really been happy with it. Stumbled your post, Fadra. Have a great day. Oh and thanks for featuring my tweet! :)

  • Mommy Rotten

    Great post!  As to the conspiracy I notice I have to check my lists to make sure I’m still following people and I often find some of my favourite people unfollowed.  Is that related?

  • Brenna

    Oh God, cursing? I’m $%&@#ed.

  • Jennifer Hajer

    Love that ego RT one.  This is all good.  I generally won’t follow in the first place if it looks like there are too many RT’s, links, sales spam, or non @’s in their stream.  

  • Good Day Regular People

    I’m going to try manageflitter.

  • Lindsey

    I’ve never tried ManageFlitter – I will now!
    And I’m looking forward to your thoughts on Triberr.

  • Kelly Whalen

    I need to prove that twitter unfollows people-it has happened to me and for me many times. I followed someone last week, and days later was not following her. I find that incredibly frustrating. 

    I unfollow for many of the same reasons you mention, but generally unfollow b/c someone isn’t active. The exception @penelopetrunk:twitter  who is always hilarious.

    • Kelly Whalen

      What the? Did my profile pull a bio from Google+? 

      • Anna Sandler

        like your bio wherever it came from!

      • Anonymous

        I haven’t figured that out. Maybe a registered profile on Disqus?

  • Pingback: GOOD READ: How to Get Unfollowed on Twitter | She Posts

  • Hines-Sight Blog

    Fadra, did you know that She Posts picked this up.  It was in e-mail this am, then I scrolled down and saw your post.  Great article.  Wanted you to know in case you did not know. 

  • Liz

    That looks like a cool tool! Hadn’t heard of that one before.

    I’m surprised that auto DMs only came up once, too. 

    Came from your link at She Posts!

  • Anna Sandler

    i definitely have had twitter accounts show me as unfollowing, that i thought i was following last i knew. i guess it’s more likely i hit unfollow by mistake, but i prefer to blame twitter.

    great tips!

  • Reedster2 (Cindy)

    Thanks Fadra!  As a Twitter newbie this is excellent guidance for me!

  • jillsmo

    I find that putting everything there is to know about me in my profile should prevent people from unfollowing me later. It’s all right there, you were warned!

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  • Anonymous

    I haven’t tried this tool yet, but I will soon!

    I generally unfollow people that don’t respond when you @ mention them with a direct question, or response to a question they Tweeted out.  I understand if this happens occasionally, it can definitely be difficult to keep up with the conversation if you’re not using a list.  I’m referring to the ones I’ve reached out to and consistently don’t respond.

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  • Anonymous

    Think I need to try this tool and get rid of inactive followers! Sometimes it’s hard to know what is too much and what’s not enough. I try to engage with people and many times they don’t even reply back. And it’s not that they suddenly hopped offline…as I see them continue the convo w/ others. :(

  • Thomas Bodetti

    I suspect that often if your looking for a reason to unfollow someone you will find it without actually looking for it, so the idea that someone is not active is not really much of a realistic measurement of how to get unfollowed, I would say those that tweet 30 times a day about joining the latest ripoff online, would be tops on my list or those that spam. 

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