Why I Unfollowed 37,752 People on Twitter

Up until last week, I followed back anyone who followed me on Twitter. Using Social Oomph, it was done all automatically without me having to do anything. If you followed me, minutes later I would automatically follow you back.

I started doing this for two main reasons. First, I wanted to follow back everyone as a courtesy. If you made the effort of following me and listening to what I had to say, then I considered following you back was the polite thing to do.

Second, I wanted to follow back everyone because I assumed that it would get me more followers (a lot of people are following you hoping that you will follow them back, thus increasing their followers count).

After a short while this became completely unmanageable. There was only one solution: mass unfollow everyone and start from scratch!

Why I Unfollowed Everyone

Twitter had lost all its sense to me. Sure I was using lists (and thank god for those) to help me categorize my Twitter buddies and follow what they had to say but this wasn’t convenient.

I ended up following 37,752 people while I had over 40,000 following me. Everytime I would look at my Twitter timeline, I would see tons of spam, porn, tweets about people sharing how good their meal was and a bunch of other stuff I couldn’t care less about. Finding good quality content on Twitter had been made impossible.

I started missing the days when I was following a couple hundred people. Those were people I had chosen to follow and was genuinely interested in listening and sharing with. There really was no other solution but unfollow everyone and start fresh.

How I Unfollowed Everyone

It took me a while to make up my mind. Should I do it? Should I not do it? I was worried that I would lose tons of followers in the process but I soon realized that those people that are really interested in me would not unfollow me. Really, I had nothing to lose.

Once I made the decision to unfollow everyone, I had yet to figure out a way to do it. I started searching online for services that could do that for me as I was not going to unfollow 37,752 people manually. I ran into a few sites that helped me unfollow a few hundred people at a time, but clearly that wasn’t the solution.

I finally remembered a website called SocialToo that offered similar services a year or so ago. I went to the site and was glad to see they were still offering this mass unfollow service. They charge $35 for doing a mass unfollow of your account but to me it was well worth it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous before clicking the “run the script” button on SocialToo.

Building Up Relationships One Follow at a Time

It took about 12-14 hours for SocialToo to unfollow everyone I was following. I then looked at my timeline: it was blank. Nothing! It felt peaceful.

Now that my Twitter account was a clean slate, I started following people one by one. I started with people that were in my lists and added a few others along the way. It took me a couple hours to do that, but again, it was time well spent.

I did lose a few followers in the process but I don’t really care about that. The most important thing is that I fell in love with Twitter all over again and that I can finally look at my timeline without being overwhelmed by twam (Twitter spam).

Do you automatically follow everyone back on Twitter? Or do you hand pick those you want to follow back?

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  • http://churchtechy.com Stuart

    I’ve never automatically followed everyone and perhaps that’s the reason I still only have less than 1000 followers.

    The thing I do is look for certian factors. So if you:
    - tweet about what you just ate
    - tweet where you are (4sq or gowalla)
    - tweet your latest exercise stint
    - tweet ONLY links or FF’s or RT’s

    then unless there’s a compelling other reason(s) I’m not going to follow you.

    Still, like yourself I’m getting to the point where I’m going to mass un-follow everyone and start again.

  • http://apervertedgirl.blogspot.com Issrar

    I really was surprised to get the email telling me that u unfollowed me. But u know, i’ve always been surprised that u could manage a TL with this massive number of follows and still reply to my tweets every time. I think you did the right thing by following everyone, because this way, it would be much easier to use twitter, hence being more effective :)

    Personally, i only follow back if i feel interested. I develloped a sixth sense when it comes to bots ;)

  • http://www.iJailbreak.com rorypiper

    I’ve always hand picked the folks I want to follow. I use my Twitter as a source of news, kinda like RSS headlines, so I would hate to have it cluttered with a bunch of stuff I don’t want to read.

    Thanks for continuing to follow me, by the way. :)

  • @shim34

    This post is exactly how I felt. I even gave up on twitter for several months because it had lost all off its meaning. Mind you I was only following ~2500 ppl, I couldn’t imagine trying to follow 37k.

  • http://www.yorkshire-lodges.co.uk yorkshire lodges

    The main reason why I personally decided to start my own personal ‘defollowing’ a couple of weeks ago was the amount of crap that kept popping up on my phone (automatically linked to twitter) telling me I had 1000 new tweets every hour, most of which were of no interest to me whatsoever.

    Best way to use twitter, I find, is to keep the following numbers as low as possible so that when these people do tweet, it’s generally about something you’re interested in reading.

  • http://www.unimatrixzero.de unimatrix_zero

    Hi Sebastian,
    We humans aren´t created to live together for more than 300, in RL, thats the Neanderthaler gene.
    And we should und could not be loved by everyone. I think your action was more than OK

  • http://bewitched-accessories.co.uk/scarves.html ladies scarves

    There are a lot of spam tweets all over twitter nowadays. Sometimes there are also spam followers who follow you and they’re posting non-sense tweets. This is so disgusting and sometimes these spam tweets contains viruses. SMH..

  • http://www.desiretube.com Dick

    Great idea but makes me wonder if some how you could have made a profit from all those before unfollowing them!

  • http://www.phpbay.com/ Antwan Redder
  • http://www.pakistancricketblog.com Bil

    For personal accounts, thats totally fine. But I guess if you are using Twitter for business purposes then following everyone (for a little while) is the best option.

  • http://www.trust-the-entertainer.com DJ

    I only follow who I’m interested in even though I’d love to have a lot more followers. I’m not sure if bulk followers really matters and I’ve seent he twitter spam. Not pretty.

  • ella

    i would of made a new account thats what i would of done

  • http://twitter.com/jonwatts Jon Watts

    I’m pretty sure that Twitter would suspend your account if you pulled that kind of thing now. They call it “aggressive follow/unfollow”.

    https://support.twitter.com/articles/68916-following-rules-and-best-practices

  • http://www.iDownloadBlog.com Sebastien

    Yeah you’re probably right. I was lucky Twitter didn’t really have all its shit together when I did this :)

  • @The_Mc_One

    follow me back