One of my favourite Twitter tools is Friend or Follow. It’s been one of my “go to” applications for a couple years. I’ve found it to be a great tool for keeping who I follow on Twitter in check. There are many accounts that I decide not to follow, for various reasons, and Friend or Follow works very nicely to help in that regard. In this post, I’m going to give a run-down of how to use the tool to your advantage.
In a way, Twitter (like many social media platforms) is a big popularity contest. While you should be using it for being informed and entertained, as well as marketing your business, it simply doesn’t look good to be following significantly more people than are following you. Admit it, when you see someone who has a million followers, but only follows a hundred people, you’re impressed. Conversely, when you see someone following thousands, but only has fifty followers, you’re thinking, “twoser” (I just coined that – or at least I think I did). For us “regular Joes” who might not get a 7-digit following, it’s nice to at least have a pretty balanced number of those that we follow and that follow us, ideally higher in the latter column. So how do we do that?
If you track your Twitter followers in some manner, you’ll probably notice that there are many people on Twitter who play this game: they follow you, you follow them back (out of courtesy), then they unfollow you. Why do they do that? It’s simple. They want to get as many followers as possible, while hardly following anyone back, just because it makes them “look cool.” They’re banking on most people not noticing that they’ve unfollowed them. I know I probably shouldn’t, but I can’t help but take offense with this lame tactic. It really annoys me. But lucky for me (and you), Friend or Follow comes to the rescue!
Once you’ve set up your Friend or Follow account (you’ll need to give the app permission to access your Twitter account, otherwise it won’t work), you’ll see your basic Twitter information at the top: followers, following, and tweets. Beneath that, are tabs for: Following, Fans, Friends, Unfollowers, and Followers.
To deal with the aforementioned “offense” I click on the Unfollowers tab. You should see a list of everyone who has stopped following you since the last time you checked. The first time you do this, you may be surprised at how many there are. And, you’ll probably realize that about half of these unfollowers have done exactly as I described above. Regardless, I go through them one-by-one and, for any that I was following, return the favour of and unfollow them. I get a small sense of satisfaction, in that I’m teaching these people a lesson (when, truth be told, they may not even have realized I’ve stopped following them and/or don’t care).
So, that usually clears out a lot of my useless follows. Next I’ll click on the Following tab. This shows a list of everyone I’m following who’s not following me back (not just those who’ve stopped following me). A lot of these I don’t take offense at. I knew from the get-go that it was highly unlikely that Ellen, Richard Branson, or the Dalai Lama would follow me back (though I’m still holding out hope on Bill Gates). But I sort these and then decide who’s getting the heave-ho.
First I’ll sort by Last Tweet. Starting from the end of my list, I cull anyone who hasn’t tweeted within the last two weeks. Again, the first time you do this, you’ll be amazed at how many people you’re following who haven’t tweeted in years – why bother following them? I arbitrarily picked two weeks as my cut-off point because that’s generally how long people take vacations for and I don’t expect everyone to tweet while they’re lying on the beach in Hawaii, mojito in hand. Occasionally I’ll make an exception if it’s someone I really enjoy following and/or I know they’re on hiatus for a good reason.
Next I’ll sort by Followers and, again, start from the end of the list. If I’m not being followed back by someone who has a small following themselves, I can’t help but take exception to that. It kind of feels like the George Costanza “It’s Not You It’s Me” thing. Similarly, I sort and cull by Followers/Following Ratio. For most people that aren’t following me back, if they’ve got fewer followers than following, out they go. Yes, I can be quite ruthless. I know I take this a bit personally…
So by this point I feel like I’ve cleared out the trash and generally feel good about who I’m following. But occasionally, I like to do a bit more housekeeping. I’ll click on the Friends tab. This shows me who I’m following who are considerate enough to follow me back. These are my tweeps. We’re buds. However, some of these just aren’t into Twitter anymore and I don’t feel like they’ll be offended if I stop following them (likely they won’t know). I sort these tweeps by Last Tweet and head to the bottom of my list. Again, I find some people haven’t tweeted for a long time. I’m generally a lot more forgiving with this group, so my cut-off point is six months. If they haven’t tweeted in that amount of time, it’s time to bid adieu (with no hurt feelings). We has fun, but it’s time to move on. Some of these – if they still actually do check their Twitter account – may stop following you but, really, what’s the point of following people on Twitter if they don’t tweet?
Well, there you have it. I hope you feel much lighter (and popular) now, having cleared out some of the “twash” (did I just coin another one?). Hopefully you found this article entertaining and maybe even a bit useful!