Tuesday, October 11, 2011

TUESDAY TIP Cleaning UR Twitterhouse Using @ManageFlitter @TwitCleaner @JustUnfollow + @Twunfollow

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.

Follow/Unfollow Philosophy
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.

1. ManageFlitter
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.

2. TwitCleaner
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! ;-))))

3. JustUnfollow
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.

What's Next....

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!


Nischal Shetty said...

Hey thanks for profiling JustUnfollow here. We're working on improvements to make the site even better. And watch out for out next awesome app. If you want an early look into our next new app send in an email to info [at[ justunfollow.com and I'll be in touch.

Webbiegrrl Writer said...

You're welcome, Nischal. Free publicity is just what happens when you make something just that good and easy to use -- oh and FREE! ^_^

Si Dawson said...

hey there

Just wanted to say thanks for writing about Twit Cleaner.

You raise some interesting points.

First - if you click & unfollow someone, you can just click them again to refollow them. There's a 10 second delay before the unfollow happens, to give you plenty of time to make & correct mistakes without it affecting your account (ie, without the unfollow/refollow requests going through to Twitter). If you refollow after the 10secs, it'll still happen just fine too.

Making you refollow manually, wow, that'd be crazy :) That & many other tips to make it all much simpler & faster are under the help (just mouse over it).

Secondly - Did you know you're the first person ever to complain about being DMed? Frankly, I hate getting spammed via DM too, but there are several reasons we chose to do this.

a) for larger accounts, getting all the data we need to do the analysis from Twitter can take hours (we analyse gigs of data, it takes a while). It's also a bit slower if we're super busy.

b) in order to let the user know that their report is ready - if we didn't DM, we'd have to collect email addresses - with all the added complications there (delivery, people entering wrong addresses, privacy issues etc).

There some other interesting points.

After you request a report, the site will automatically refresh the page until your report is ready - then take you there without you doing anything, so strictly speaking, the DM is only needed for those who navigate away (a surprisingly large number of people, but still).

Also, if you're a protected user, or block @TwitCleaner, then we can't DM you anyway, so we send an @reply to let you know when your report is ready. It's best not to do that for everyone though, otherwise our stream would just be thousands of @messages to people saying their reports are done. Pretty boring stuff.

I hope that clarifies things a bit for you (& your readers). I apologise that you found it so aversive & irritating first time through.

Si Dawson
[Twit Cleaner creator]

Webbiegrrl Writer said...

Hi Si (creator of @TwitCleaner)

First of all, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and make some comments. I really appreciate your contributing to this discussion yourself! wow.

Second, just to clarify a couple of points, (1) this was far from the first time I used TwitCleaner and actually, it's because it's NOT the first time I got a DM from TwitCleaner that I found it so annoying. In fact, I -was- using TwitCleaner almost exclusively (that is, exclusive of all the other tools mentioned in my blog) but something better came along--and it doesn't DM me, either. (2) if your @TwitCleaner stream were a bunch of @mentions for the thousands of users who used your tool that would NOT be boring. That'd be ADVERTISING!! And you practically read my mind b/c that's precisely what my first thought was "Why the heck don't they just @mention people?" Too funny!

Good to know I just have to block @TwitCleaner to stop the DMs and can still use the service. I thought if I blocked the @TwitCleaner twitter account, you'd block me from using the service. I still like TwitCleaner; I just found ManageFlitter to be a bit better.

I did actually know you can reclick within ten (10) seconds to refollow but alas, while this seems like a really slow response time to you, having no intermediate "are you sure" step to click means people risk just clicking away--or accidentally clicking the wrong icon--and some internet connections are definitely slower than others. I happen to have high-speed broadband and still get lags. I don't have a T3 but have worked on them (installed them even) and know how much faster it could be. Likewise, some people have slower than broadband connections and 10 sec lags are "instant" to them. It's all relative.

Again, thank you for contributing to this conversation. Your remarks (and Nischal's) really increase the value of my post--and I do save these Twitter posts in an ongoing series so now they're more valuable to save ^_^


Si Dawson said...

Ohh, you can click unfollow/refollow as many times as you like. It doesn't matter if you come back in a week, we'll still action it.

The 10 seconds is just before we head out & talk to Twitter (ie, take action on the account).

It's a tradeoff, like many things - if it's any slower, I get people DMing me saying "hey! Why hasn't anything happened yet?" :)

Oh, & the other reason for not @mentioning people unless I really have to is because of the privacy issue. If I @mention then the whole world can read my tweetstream & see that you used the service.

However, you do raise an interesting issue there - and really, it should be up to the user to choose. Maybe not the first time they use the service (would make the UI too clunky) but certainly possible as an ongoing option - something like "would you prefer to be contacted by DM, @mention, or not at all." Now THAT is very possible.

So thanks - if not for the direct suggestion, certainly for bringing the idea to my consciousness. I have a bunch of upgrades coming up soon. I'll roll that choice out into them.


Webbiegrrl Writer said...

Hi again, Si,

I think you have a winner there, allowing the user to choose--and why NOT from the very start? Use a SELECT form element to let users choose from the 3 options or use a 3 button radio set (SELECT is more tidy for your UI)

Leaving choices up to the CUSTOMER is always the way to go, if possible! Glad my grumbles gave way to your brainstorming.