Today's Tuesday Tool Tip is another entry in the Twitter Series, revisiting the topic of how to manage your Twitterstream. Because my Twitter community has grown since June of 2011 (when I had 18 followers) to nearing the 400 mark, I want to do housecleaning at a larger-scale level than when I wrote the first entry on this subject. Below I'll review 3 of the best tools I've found for the job of cleaning your Twitter house.
Before I get into the tools, you have to understand the objective here. Twitter is a public arena and that means all kinds of people from all over the world get into the fray and make noise. The more people who follow your tweets (your followers), the more people who will hear whatever noise you make, so the goal is usually to get a lot of followers. For people trying to sell something, this is a matter of statistics. The more eyeballs you get your message in front of, the higher your chances of converting a reader into a buyer. So there's a money-drive behind this for spammers and other ripoff artists...and just regular 'ole sales people like us Indie Authors trying to hawk our books.
So how do you get lots of followers? Review the entries in my ever-growing Twitter Series for tips and tricks. One basic way, however, is to just follow other people because the polite thing to do is follow back anyone who follows you first. This reciprocal nature of Twitter is how things organically spread so quickly, or "go viral." Your followers are connected to my followers are connected to my followers' followers.
The problem is that Twitter (the site administration who have to worry about server loads and keeping the site and services running) have put a limit on how many people you can follow. It's proportionate to the number of people who are following you in a 1.2:1 ratio. They do this so that spammers and scammers cannot just follow 10,000 people an hour using an automated script to crawl through the Twitterverse. In fact, there's even a daily limit (I think) to how many follows you can log before Twitter cuts you off for the day.
So if you do the math, you see, there's not much advantage to following peeps who do not follow you back. Problem is, once you have more than 20 or 30 or 50 tweeps to track, your brain just can't do it. You need a tool to help weed through the muck. The tool needs to identify those tweeps you follow who do not follow you back and then give you a means of choosing to unfollow them or "whitelist" them (as in keep following them no matter what; this is good for family, celebrities, tools such as the ones below which require you to follow them for the best service) or just keep following your non-followers "for now." Click through the jump-break to read more.
There are other reasons to unfollow. If all the person ever tweets is links and promotions, you probably don't need to listen to them spamming you all day. If their tweets are offensive, rude, annoying or on a topic you find uninteresting, you also don't need the noise filling your stream. Finally, if the person never tweets any original content or never RTs or replies or interacts with you or anyone else, they're more of a user than a tweep so you can probably unfollow them and not miss the whitenoise cluttering your stream. Okay, now onto the tools to help you do this--quickly, easily and efficiently.
Today was the first time I was able to get this one to work. Apparently their web site has some issues. When it works, however, this tool is chock-full of awesome sauce! Now I'm glad I persisted in trying to make it work. I think this has become my #1 favorite unfollow tool--and I've barely touched the surface of its functionality! Let's take a look at the screen--a busy interface to be sure.
On the top, the default tab is "Unfollow." The Follow and Track tabs are apparently for the "pro" pay accounts only. On the left, I chose the default tab of "Not following back." Underneath the message where it says "You have unfollowed 43 people today...." see the row where it lists Follow Date, Followers, Following...? I used that to sort the list of tweeps I wanted to review. In this screen shot, I'm using Follow Date and viewing those I've most recently followed first (so the tweeps I've been following for a while--who aren't following me back--are at the bottom of the page). This is good because whitelisting is also a for-pay service at ManageFlitter. I have about 50 "celebrity" and family follows who'll all be sorted to the bottom of the list.
To the right of each tweep listed, there's a check box. Hovering over the tweep's entry gives me a popup of their profile description so I have one last chance to refamiliarize myself with who they are (if their most recent tweet doesn't clue me in) and then I can click the box. If I had some boxes selected when I took the screen shot, to the right side of the image, where it says "Unfollow 0 selected" it would have a number instead of zero and clicking on those words would unfollow the number of tweeps I'd selected...within seconds. I went to the Twitter site to check. It really worked right away!
I did 37 in my first pass and then used another filter. I chose to deselect "popular" tweeps whom I was following but who were not following me back. As it turns out, when I looked at my list a second time, after unfollowing those first 37, I found 6 more of those "popular" tweeps really needed to go anyway. A couple of them had even tweeted/replied to me when I realized they weren't following and said they were (and one even did) and now they are unfollowin again. I don't like lying games. If Twitter "helpfully" unfollowed me for them, fine. They can follow me again themselves and I'll follow them back. At this point, the negative experience has engrained their names in my minds so I'm sure I'll recognize (for all the wrong reasons) next time.
ManageFlitter is free for the basic usage I've described. You can pay for it and be allowed to select and combine filters. I just used one filter at a time and it was more than enough! If I were going to pay for a cleaning tool, however, this one would be it.
Definitely a quick and easy method for unfollowing dead weight. Unfortunately, I did not think to take screen shots of the other tools before using ManageFlitter so my "examples" are going to misrepresent my follower/non-follower problem. Ah well. Let's see the TwitCleaner screen shot:
The arrow is pointing to the only user I've selected for cleaning. Be careful here--as soon as you click, the circle-bar appears and a message is sent out to your Twitter account to unfollow that user.
Edited to add: If you didn't mean to do it, immediately reclick it to cancel the unfollow request. Otherwise, you'll need to go to Twitter and manually REfollow that tweep. In fact, depending on how clogged your net connection is, you might still need to go to Twitter to manually refollow. Given the bot activities accessing the Twitter site 24/7, unfollow requests seem to go through quicker than follow requests.
The one thing I do not like about TwitCleaner is that it DMs me when my report is ready. Since the report usually takes seconds (less than 60) and I hate, loathe and despise DMs with links (have even unfollowed peeps who insist on using them), I'm pretty much done liking TwitCleaner. If they did not DM me, I'd keep using the service but ManageFlitter is more versatile, just as fast and does not harrass me in the process.
Edited to add: apparently, you can still use TwitCleaner even if you block them (so that they cannot DM you) and instead, they'll just @mention you with the link to the report. Since the report automatically loads (assuming you don't navigate away from the page) the message feels redundant to me. My report usually loads within a few seconds, often BEFORE the DM has arrived though sometimes the DM arrives first--all depends on the speed of Twitter's service at that moment. Oh and my cell phone service (it text messages me re DMs), and Hootsuite (which also notifies me on my phone of DMs) and of course, my net connection and Gmail (which also notifies me of DMs). Yeah, I get 3 notices of DMs and yes, I could turn off those notices via my Twitter account. Since DMs are so thoroughly abused by everyone these days, perhaps I just have to ignore them (can I refuse to accept DMs from anyone? Twitter needs to add that option! ;-))))
This one is nice and clean and just as easy as it gets.Look at that screen shot:
Okay, pretty much every tweep there is a "celebrity" I consider "whitelisted" even though I haven't gotten around to creating my whitelist for JustUnfollow, but as you can see it's pretty easy to figure out who to unfollow and who to keep following--and how to do it. If you cannot figure out from this screen how to unfollow someone, you are not allowed to use Twitter for a whole week until you do! ^_^
Okay that's it for the housecleaning tools but here's a bonus toy. After you've done all of that Tweepcleaning, you might wonder, who's been cleaning you out of their Twitterhouse? Guess what? Yep, there's an app for that! Twunfollow is fairly easy to use though at the moment, they seem to be changing how they operate. You log into your Twitter account using the OAuth method like with all of the other tools mentioned above and then Twunfollow prepares a list for you (which you can view over the past week or month or day) of all of the tweeps who've unfollowed you. The offending tweeps are shown in red. The green tweeps are all of your new/recent followers.
Chances are, you just cleaned out of those red tweeps, but if you didn't, now you can identify and remove them for having unfollowed you first.
This week's Freebie Friday feature will have a non-fiction self-help book by an Authonomy mate, Anne Lyken-Garner (@esther96) and two fiction entries by Paul Kater (@pagan_paul) Be sure to stop back Friday!