Why It’s a Terrible Idea to Unfollow Everyone on Twitter

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Joel Drapper recently made a post which was titled “Why I Unfollowed Everyone on Twitter and Why You Should Too.” While I am friends with Joel and think he is a bright fifteen year old blogger and web designer, I strongly disagree with this post.

After reading his post, I started thinking about this subject quite a bit, and these are the three main reasons I came up with as to why it is a terrible idea to unfollow everyone on Twitter:

Burning Bridge
Photo from carebear_y

  1. Burns Bridges: When you follow someone on Twitter, it’s like you are giving them a virtual handshake and saying, “Hey, I followed you because I think you’re interesting, so let’s connect!” However, when you turn around and unfollow the same person, you are telling them, “Hey, I am no longer interested in you, goodbye!” Doing this on a mass scale is obviously going to alienate a significant portion of your fellow Tweeps. You may not have a problem burning that bridge right now, but you never know when failing to maintain that relationship is going to hurt you in the future (such as realizing you need a favor but can’t go to any of the people who you alienated).
  2. Doesn’t Allow You to Truly Connect: Twitter is a great way to connect with other people and get their feedback. However, this doesn’t work when you go on a mass unfollowing spree. In Joel’s case, the net results of his mass unfollow is he now how has 9500 followers and at last look was, following around 88 people. So, when he tweets something, he is effectively having a one way conversation with approximately 9400 people. This means that while they are getting his tweets, he will not ever get their messages (which could be quite helpful).
  3. Takes Away from the Value of Twitter: If you decide that you are going to unfollow just about everyone on your list down the road, you are probably going to start following anyone and everyone without any hesitation (since you know that you are going to end up unfollowing them soon). Doing this takes away a lot of the value of Twitter. I think it’s important to put at least a little thought into who you decide to follow. For example, I look at several things when deciding whether or not to follow someone. I look at their follower to following ratio, their bio and website, and then make a decision if it looks like someone I’d like to connect with.

Now, keep in mind that I’m not saying that you can’t ever unfollow people. In fact, I don’t think anyone should be obligated to follow someone back simply because they follow you. Also, if you decide you don’t likesome one’s tweets or their personality, you have every right to unfollow them. However, there is a big difference between making that kind of decision and unfollowing nearly ten thousand people at once.

If you have reached a point where you feel like your Twitter account has become unmanageable and you are thinking about a huge massunfollowing , a less antisocial decision would be to close your account and start back from zero (this way you can get things under control without burning any bridges).

However, you honestly don’t need to take this extreme of a measure. With tools like TweetDeck, you can create different groups of people, which will allow you to divide up the people you are following based on their importance to you. Using tools like TweetDeck , I am able to effectively manage my Twitter stream of over sixty thousand people. In addition to initiating lots of interactions, I answer most @replies and direct message. Sometimes, I’ll even take things to the next level by talking to some of my followers onSkype, the telephone or meeting them in real life!

Gerald Weber

Gerald Weber

Gerald Weber is a professional SEO, social media enthusiast and Internet entrepreneur from Houston Texas. Gerald Founded Search Engine Marketing Group in December 2005. Follow... Read Full Bio
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  • LOL, yeah, follow EVERYONE, don’t ever EVER unfollow someone, because then you will have more time to increase the value of your life and even spend some time iwth your friends.

    This is TERRIBLE idea

  • Hi Gerald Weber.

    I have to agree with you wholeheartedly here. There is a prevailing attitude that people with the offset number of followers vs following are somehow of celebrity, that’s much more followers than they follow.

    Indeed its the case with in the genuine sense but forcing the issue cant be a good thing for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Alienation being one and the flow of conversation and relationship building being the other.

    Some good advice is to simply slow down and take the time to choose who you follow and follow back from the outset. Its of extreme importance if you really do wish to gain anything from the whole twitter experience.

  • sd

    I completely agree with what you’re saying — which is why as soon as Joel started to unfollow me, I did the same right back at home.
    If we all did this, then the entire point of twitter would be bunk.

  • @Vygantas

    ActuallyI believe there are many cases where unfollowing someone might be a good idea. For example you realize you have nothing in common with that person. The issue we are discussing is mass unfollowing (unfollowing thousands of people in one swoop) which seems to be a bit antisocial to me.

    @Justin Parks,

    I agree with you. I think the best advice is to put some thought into who you are following at the outset.

  • Well following everyone is always a bad idea I think.

    Like I’ve written on another blog (and gotten quoted on twitter with it =)
    “Why follow people in the first place if your just going to ignore them?”
    Which is essentially what you do when you go beyond lets say 1000 followings.

    But more importantly your Number 2 point is totally wrong.
    You always get notified when people @ you. I get these from people I don’t follow and I @ people I don’t follow.

  • @sd,


  • @Andreas Nurbo,

    I agree with you on the point of it’s not a good idea to follow EVERYONE on Twitter, but I’ll disagree that you are ignoring tweeps once you get past say 1000 followers. It’s true you are going to miss some peoples tweets but that is the way twitter is designed. You are going to miss some tweets whether you follow 100, 1000, or 10,000. Now just to be clear I don’t think twitter is about “he who has the most followers wins” because I really don’t think that but I see now harm in growing and networking larger numbers if you have the correct tools and the interest to do so effectively.

    Your correct about the @replies unless I change this in settings I’ll would still be able to see your @replies if I’m following you but your not following me back, but still I can see your tweet in your timeline but you can not see mine. Also you can DM me but I can not DM you. so it’s still a one sided relationship.

  • Gerald, you’ve made some very good points, but I still disagree for the most part.

    I don’t think that anyone starts out with a plan to follow lots of people and then do a mass unfollow (except for spammers and Joel certainly isn’t a spammer).

    Many people start out with Twitter following anything that tweets and autofollowing anyone who follows them. Even with TweetDeck or other tools, it becomes unmanageable to truly follow thousands of people.

    Even people who are selective about who they follow will find it gets difficult at some point. I have trouble keeping touch with everyone and I’m only around 750.

    From what I recall, Joel unfollowed people simply because he wasn’t really following them anyway.

    I think that having someone say they are following you and then never actually reading your tweets is worse than not following.

    You can still reply to people who don’t follow you, and they can reply back to you. The only thing that you miss out on is DM’s which most of us are ignoring anyway due to the amount of spammy auto DM’s that come our way.

    Perhaps the mass unfollow is the best route if done the way Joel did — he announced his reasons. If he just quietly unfollowed individual after individual over time then it would seem more personal. As it was, I understand his logic completely and still follow him. I’m not sure if he follows me or not since I don’t often look back at my followers list, but either way, I enjoy his tweets when I see them.

    I guess the whole thing boils down to YMMV which is part of what makes Twitter and other SM sites so great. Everyone can use them the way that they find works best for them.

  • As I said on Joels Blog I understand his reasoning but I just don’t think it is quite that simple given his past and the amount of people already following him on twitter.

  • I do believe as in this example Joel’s intentions were good don’t get me wrong but if I have say 10,000 followers and only follow 100. Then all 10,000 people get the tweets I put into the public timeline but I only get 100 of their tweets in return in my timeline. It’s highly unlikely I’m gonig to @reply 10,000 people but I’m sending all of my followers my message every time I send out a normal tweet. This is what makes it a one sided relationhip. So there is more of a difference than just DM.

  • So I guess you’re objecting to the fact that he didn’t ask everyone else to unfollow him when he unfollowed them? Is that the issue?

    I don’t see how it is any more one sided than it was before he unfollowed. If he uses TweetDeck to follow the 100 and ignores the rest it’s still one sided but the followers don’t know it.

    He can still receive a reply made to him and can still reply to anyone on Twitter who hasn’t blocked him. I don’t see a problem given that he made full disclosure and people can unfollow him without hurting his feelings.

    People who didn’t see his reasons for unfollowing when he did it were obviously not really following him closely at the time since he did tweet about it.

  • @LoneWolf

    He can still receive an @reply true but he sends all 9400 followers his tweet EVERY time he sends out a tweet. So it’s not a fair exchange of information. All 9400 are not going to @reply every time a tweet goes out.

    I don’t think that just because his followers didn’t see his tweet or tweets about him mass unfollowing it means that they don’t care or weren’t paying attention. Most people don’t pay attention to every single tweet that comes through their stream regardless of follower number. I never suggested it was a good idea for him to ignore everyone either.

    The main complaint I see is that he wasn’t getting the tweets of his top 100 tweeple because he was following so many and thus too much noise. A less antisocial move would be using tweetdeck as one option. Tweetdeck allows you to have the be st of both worlds. You can create a group of your top people so you are sure to see their tweets and then still also check out your main public timeline as you see fit.

    Here would be another possible option. Let’s say you realize you have thousands of followers and because of too much noise (too many tweets in the timeline) you want to truly start over with just 100 people and slowly build a quality list from there, why not just close down the account entirely and start from zero?

    Everyone can use twitter as they see fit of course but I’ll still say there are more ethical and less antisocial options than mass unfollowing thousands of people all in one swoop.

  • Wow… it never stops amazing me that people even spend the time to talk about this sort of thing, much less write about it.

    Honestly, it’s pretty silly. Use technology however you want, do what works for you.

  • Zaskoda,

    I agree with you everyone should definitely use technology and various social platforms how they see fit and to their liking.

    However I’ll gladly give my opinion on what I feel to be a good (best practices) way to approach using twitter and other social platforms for blogging business and otherwise. Just think what would happens if eveyrone on Twitter suddenly mass unfollowed everyone! No one would ever see any tweets or DMs we would just all be @replying each other back and forth.

  • Tyler

    @Vygantas: If you took the time to read the post, you would see that Gerald did not recommend either “follow EVERYONE, or don’t ever EVER unfollow someone.” In fact, he said you should take a moment to evaluate who you decide to follow, and also gave examples of situations where it is appropriate to unfollow someone.

  • I still don’t see why there has to be a “fair exchange”. If all Joel was doing was promoting his own site then he wouldn’t have that many followers to begin with. He is providing information and 9400 people either enjoy it or can’t be bothered to unfollow (and probably were following “in name only” to begin with).

    As for TweetDeck, etc., I agree that it is probably a better solution than what Joel did, but there are still problems with it.

    With his followings being almost 20 times mine I can imagine that each update search would bring in the max 200 updates (Twitter’s API limit) in “All Friends” and probably leave dozens or even hundreds that don’t get picked up. I know that I will often get 15 or 20 updates in a minute. The groups feature will only show tweets that came in with the “All Friends” feed, so there is still a chance of missing something that you feel is important. DestroyTwitter does it’s new Groups feature the same way.

    I suspect that until Twitter offers groups and the API has a way to load only the Group tweets that this will be unavoidable.

    With you following over 60,000 you are probably missing a lot more than you think. I doubt that you see many of my updates. Even if TweetDeck could keep up with the sheer number of updates coming your way, it is just physically impossible for you to see that many tweets and still have time to write a blog, eat, sleep …

    This has been a very interesting discussion and I believe that there are people who would disagree with us both (like Zadoska who doesn’t even think it’s worth talking about 8=).

    I hope that people don’t see what Joel has done as a technique to build a following, which I think is part of the issue that you have with it. However, there are a lot of people who need to look at maybe paring down their Following number.

  • Thanks for the well thought out contribution to this article.

    Regarding the 60k followers I have it’s true that I do miss many of the tweets but this was also the case at 1000 and 100 followers. Not to beat a dead horse but it’s not expected that you are going to be able to read each and every tweet in your timeline. However I do read and retweet many of the tweets in my timeline and I interact with all twitters that express and interest. Most importantly I reply to most DMs which is the most direct way to connect and communicate on Twitter that is not possible if you are not following in return.

  • You make a good point about thinking about who you are following, rather than just mass following people. I don’t see anything wrong with Joel realizing he made a mistake and fixing it when he mass followed people. There are no real rules when it comes to how you use Twitter. It is all about enjoying how you use it.

  • Shawn,

    I realize Joel’s intentions were good. At the end of the day there really are no set rules on Twitter you are correct, but when you do something on a large scale (by the thousands) on a social platform like Twitter there are no doubt going to be many different viewpoints and opinions.

    Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  • The title of my post, Why I Unfollowed Everyone And Why You Should Too, was probably a little bit over the top. It seemed pretty catch at the time, but appears to have put across the wrong message to some people.

    Of course I don’t think everyone should unfollow everyone. That would be stupid. But I do believe it was the right thing for me to do in my circomstances.

    Most of the people that I followed, I had no interest in whatsoever.

    Infact, I followed @neoblogger’s advice on How To Become A Twitter Rockstar – Sort Of. I found popular tweeple with similar interests to me and literally mass-followed their followers in hope that they would follow me too.

    I didn’t care who I followed, I didn’t build any “bridges”. I followed them simply because I wanted them to follow me, and if they didn’t follow me within a few days, I unfollowed them.

    It was always a one-way relationship because I never actually saw anyone’s tweets. I was receiving so many tweets that my home tab looked like the public timeline. It was such a mess, and I realised that what I was doing was selfish, wrong, and pretty pointless.

    I didnn’t unfollow everyone out of the blue as some people suggested. I put a lot of thought into it, and I did consider creating another account as Gerald suggested. Here’s a few reasons why I decided not to do this.

    1) I liked my username – I wasn’t about to dump @JoelDrapper and get something like @Joel-Drapper.

    2) I had a lot of tweets – I’d been tweeting for quite a while, and had built up a large archive. My twitter page ranked very high in Google when you searched my name. I wasn’t about to delete it.

    3) There are a lot of tools to help people that want to maintain mutural relationships on twitter to unfollow me when I unfollowed them. To name a few: SocialToo, TweetLater, Qwitter. On the other hand, there arn’t many tools to help tweeple stop following my inactive account, and follow my new one so the people that followed me because they actually liked what I had to say would be left behind. This would burn many more bridges.

    I totally agree with LoneWolf’s comment where he said:

    “I don’t see how it is any more one sided than it was before he unfollowed. If he uses TweetDeck to follow the 100 and ignores the rest it’s still one sided but the followers don’t know it.”

    You say unfollowing burns bridges, but you can’t truley connect with someone by following them when you follow 13,000 others. You either have to filter out the good tweets with something like tweetdeck, or communicate with them by @replies or DMs.

    Instead of following everyone, and filtering out good tweets, I now just follow the good tweets, but can still communicate with people that I don’t follow via @replies like before.

    The only difference between following a few hundred, and filtering a few hundred is that I’m being perfectly honest about it, and saying, Look, you’re welcome to follow me if you want, but at this time, I either don’t know about you or decided not to follow you because your tweets don’t interest me. It’s nothing personal, it’s just an opinion, and we’ve all got the right to our opinions on this matter.

    After a lot of thought, I decided I would go through my replies, and a few twitter directories, and put together a list of about 100 people to refollow. Then I unfollowed everyone and started out again.

    After doing so, I did tweet, and blog about why I did it, and that I am quite happy for the people that I dishonestly mass-followed in the first place to now unfollow me.

    I don’t think that in my case I burned any “bridges” as not many existed. Most of the people that I had built any “bridges” with were on the list of people to follow back.

    I now follow quite a few people that don’t follow me. I don’t mind that they don’t follow me back because that’s not why I followed them. I love what they say, and I would highly recommend others follow them.

    “If you decide that you are going to unfollow just about everyone on your list down the road, you are probably going to start following anyone and everyone without any hesitation…”

    I may be mistaken, but it looks like you think I might do this again in a few months, so will toss my follow around lightly.

    Not so. I take my follow very seriously now. Before I follow someone, I try to read a full page of their tweets, read their bio, and check out their websites. I do this all the time when I get replies, see a good retweet, or see a #followfriday.

    As I said, I don’t really think everyone should unfollow everyone. Not everyone is at the point that I was, but I believe that in my position, it was the right thing to do.

  • @LoneWolf regarding your first comment I totally agree apart from the bit about me being a spammer. I was actually using tools to follow other people’s followers. I think that was pretty spammy. I’m sorry I did it, and I won’t do it again.

  • “I still don’t see why there has to be a “fair exchange”. If all Joel was doing was promoting his own site then he wouldn’t have that many followers to begin with. He is providing information and 9400 people either enjoy it or can’t be bothered to unfollow (and probably were following “in name only” to begin with).”

    @LoneWolf you are so spot on. It’s like you actually read my article!

  • I think there is a huge opportunity to flex some Twitter muscle, or Twuscle here. I am going through and unfollowing people who are nothing but salesy and spammers, and the porn star people. We have the power now.

    And sorry for the twuscle comment, that’s just terrible.

  • Joel,

    I definitely think your overall idea of building quality rather than meaningless connections with people on Twitter is a super idea. Again in my opinion the idea of burning bridges that weren’t every really bridges in the first place. To elaborate elaborate on what I mean by this. You haven’t really connected with many of them yet but when you start building your “quality list” you may find that some of them were actually quite interesting or valuable tweeple but you have already alienated 13000 in the twittersphere that might think again about returning your follow or connecting in the future if you do happen to want to reconnect with some of them later.

    I don’t personally believe you should always follow back someone just because they follow but the fact is I’m sure you wouldn’t have the 9400 followers you have now hadn’t you followed them all in the first place. So now you are left with this very skewed follower to followee ratio . I’m sure this raises a huge question mark to some people.

    It is cool that you took the time to write up a blog post about the entire scenario.

    I took a minute to read the post you cited and I think all the advice @neoblogger gives is pretty good except blindly mass follow all the people the Twitter rockstars are following. The “sort of” part on this post should be emphasized. Good job recognizing this.

  • Joel unfollowed me, after we’d had conversations in the past, and I unfollowed him. I try to keep my ratio around 1:1 and don’t have any interest in marketing myself or SEO, and want to follow people with similar interests. If someone builds up a following of tens of thousands by indiscriminate following and then they unfollow, keeping 100:1 ratio, I don’t follow them because they have no interest in hearing others, just broadcasting. I’m not claiming Joel or G-man are stroking their egos, but that’s not my thing. I’m not here for self-promotion, to be a Twitter-star or see if I can have as many followers as Oprah. I see this as a forum to micro-blog, share information, build community and it can lead to other forums for deeper discussions and richer content.

  • John,

    I think you are spot on. While everyone’s use for Twitter may differ a bit from person to person I think the true value in Twitter is really connecting with like minded tweeps.

    Contrary to what some may think due to my follower count I really don’t think he who has the most followers wins. I really enjoy connecting and networking with people on a personal level. I’ve met a lot of really cool people and even made some real life friends as a result of my involvement with Twitter.

  • I follow people and if I don’t like their posts I stop following them just like I spot hanging around friends whose company I don’t enjoy – there is absolutely nothingt with that. I won’t be your friend and suffer your terrible sense of humour just because it’s good for marketing my business. That’s ridiulous… ok. That’s my input.

  • Tweeting is like telemarketing it’s a numbers game. I’m not interested in, when someone follows me who are they following actually it’s none of my business. I’m thrilled people are wanting to follow me plain simple. I think because you have to have a small picture & short bio of yourself this will play a big part in your worthy followers who will come beneficial
    to you futuristically. From that they will then click on your full tweeter page to see if your of interest to them. I know this is true because I have a follower who wanted to follow me more advanced in the business world than me, & I thought why would this person want to follow me after I looked at his website? Well his technique worked, meaning whenever I would tweet something about my blog, or company websites he would tweet above my tweet or close to my tweet about entrepreneur company
    stuff that caught my attention because I fit his description of his blog articles. So besides he choosing to follow me because I was interest to him, I gained someone who tweets valuable tweets that I learn from on a business level, as well as I get to DM him & not worry if he will unfollow me, because he choose to follow me first from very beginning. I started my acccount 4/12/09 & don’t have many followers, but I’ve concluded if you seem worthy to the worthy followers out their you might just land one of them wanting to follow you first & that their is the jewel of twitter.

  • Everyone uses Twitter differently. There is no right or wrong way.

    For the record, I did the same thing last week: unfollowed 7000+ tweeps and began refollowing some and following some new ones. You can read *my* post about it at http://tr.im/jJ2R

  • great article Gerald,
    i still have no idea how the hell you do it. you are able to peer into the minds of over 60,000 people and communicate with them regularly. rockstar you are! and on the note of mass unfollowing – i think people are still figuring what the hell the technology of Twitter is all about. in any case, if someone decides to unfollow, i agree that it should be a well thought out decision.

  • @Dejan Petrovic,

    I absolutely agree with you. If you don’t like someone for whatever reason simply unfollow. Makes sense to me. 🙂


    I’m not sure I personally feel like Twitter is like telemarketing but sure it can be used and viewed differently by different people of course. I think you are spot on about the networking aspect. You don’t always know who you are going to enjoy networking with or really have relationships that you are going to take to the next level right off the bat. To me that’s part of the magic of Twitter. One minute you are sending out a tweet and then next minute BAM you are making a new friend in a different part of the world that you never would have had otherwise. Really amazing if you ask me.

    @Ari Herzog ,

    I agree with you there is no absolute right or wrong way to use twitter or social media technically, but there are certain actions that may be viewed more positively or negatively by a large group of people. Once you have many eyeballs on you in the social media world it does make sense to think through your actions and how they are going to be perceived by the masses.


    Thank you very much for the kind compliment. The truth is I am very passionate about Twitter and social media in general so I do put a great deal of time and effort in Twitter as I do my other social media endeavors. It’s simply because I love SM and the possibilities that it can brings so much. 😉

  • Well said Gerald, and a much nicer way of putting things than I would have.

  • Thanks for the compliment Brandon. =)

  • stewkelly

    Hi Gerald,

    I found I had to do a mass unfollow because Twitter would not let me follow anymore new people I was interested in because of their rules.

    I guess massive cull would be a better description, but frankly I resent being told how many people I can legitimately follow.

    I may have interacted sporadically with them but I did enjoy reading their tweets. Now the glimmer is off twitter and I no longer see it as a social media site.

    Twitter has become just another hack marketing site to me. rife with facile interaction and spammers masquerading as twitters.

    I suppose spammers have screwed up the twitterverse too.


  • We Americans worry more about spammers than illegal aliens invading our nation. We give them amnesty every so few years. We should offer amnesty to spammers as well. After all, we are not the nation of laws anymore. Why fake it?

    Twitter is no exception. Do what you please. Join the herd. Common sense be damned.

  • stewkelly,

    Twitter has following limits in place that I agree some might find annoying but I can understand Twitters reason for doing this.

    “Twitter has become just another hack marketing site to me. rife with facile interaction and spammers masquerading as twitters. ”

    Of course you do have your occasionally spammer,porn person, or someone trying to sell you viagra or whatever it may be on Twitter, but when this happens I find it easy enough to unfollow, block and report to @spam. 🙂

  • Personally, I wish it doesn’t have to go that way when I have to unfollow people just because they’re not following me back, or because it’s getting too crowded in my list.

    I think to follow somebody or not, depends on the value he/she has on the network. I don’t do mass-unfollowing but I would review my acc after a period of time, and see if there are spammers in the midst. Even I don’t get to talk to all of those I’m following, or they may not follow me back, but I rather keep them where they are, hoping in time I’ll have a moment with them.

    Twitter is about info sharing, and if we could build a great relationship out of it, that’s even more fantastic. But if not, it doesn’t have to go ‘unfollow’ merely because you don’t like me as much as I like you. Yet again, it’s all about how that person’s using it.

    Social Media/Blogging

  • I disagree. I like Joel’s mass unfollowing tactic and I’ve been thinking of doing similar myself.

    Not following someone isn’t creating a one-way conversation. Sure, they can’t DM me anymore, but if they really want to reach out they can @reply me, or go to my blog and find my email address (just apply @gmail.com to my username!). I’m not hard to contact, nor is a DM the only way to reach me.

    It doesn’t create a one-way conversation because I still see their @replies. I’ve likely unfollowed them because they provide no value, no interest, and nothing of world to ME. Hopefully I provide something of value to them, but not all things are equal.

    I had better conversations on Twitter when I have 150 followers than now when I have nearly 2,000. Why? Because I personally knew each and every person.

    I generally now only follow back people that I find highly interesting, or people that I meet. Some huge celebrity types on twitter will want to auto-follow back everyone, but I really don’t care about the numbers.

  • Gerald, this is a timely post for me, as I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately.
    One of my main reasons for un-following ppl is lack of responsiveness. It’s a bit difficult and cumbersome to track, but I usually lose interest in ppl who never ever respond to ‘social calls’ ie: DMs that are NOT spammy, just friendly little ‘hello TFTF!’ types.
    I also regularly un-follow ppl who spam a lot as their so-called ‘updates’. Please don’t cram a whole page of updates down my throat all at once or I WILL press the eject button.
    Another reason I will un-follow is if ppl don’t bother to follow me after I have them.
    After all, isn’t Twitter all about socializing and sharing?
    Why would I want to follow ppl who obviously have no interests in common, or even the common courtesy to reciprocate?
    Sounds kind of lame.
    Bottom line, Twitter is a moving target, best practice is, IMHO, just to be respectful, above board and honest, the rest will follow naturally without all the cloak and dagger stuff.

  • Max

    This Twitter fascination is just amazing. One of the comments I read said “technology of Twitter”. Are you kidding? Twitter is not much of a tool or even really a Technology. Twitter is what it is because of a need during these economic down times to connect and feel importance. The Technology of Twitter? It’s is a very simple date structure much like myspace. Not much design or technology needed for that. Come on people – get a grip. Twitter is just another online social voice for us to find importance for our life.

  • Adey

    I could not disagree more. Twitter do not offer the function to turn the volume down on certain people (read mute them) and turn off your profile all together. Last week I deleted everybody I follow and who follows me because it was distracting me from my work and lacked any conversational value that I can’t get from picking up the phone or emailing people. If anybody is offended then they don’t know me well enough to following me in the first place – and those aren’t the people i want in my life anyway. As for reducing the ‘value of twitter’ – that really makes me laugh. Twitter is 99% noise of self-important shouting, much of it done for commercial reasons.

  • Great post! It needed to be said and you said it well…

    The only criteria I use to unfollow someone is if I’m getting a rediculous number of tweets from them. Otherwise keep them in my tweeps!

  • Darla

    Good Read Gerald & great insight. Thanks for sharing.

  • @Ching Ya,

    You have some great valid points. Well said.


    “Not following someone isn’t creating a one-way conversation. ”

    The topic of this post is not really about not following someone, it’s about mass unfollowing thousands of people in one swoop. So allow me to again explain how it creates a one way relationship.

    If you have let’s say 9400 followers and you are following let’s say 88 people every time you send a tweet in your time line all 9400 of the followers see your tweet but if all your followers send out a tweet you only see 88 in your timeline. It’s highly unlikely all 9400 will @reply to your tweet. So it’s very much one way communication.

    “I’ve likely unfollowed them because they provide no value, no interest, and nothing of world to ME.”

    Absolutely this is the message I would get if you unfollowed me so why would I take the time to visit your blog and track down your email address and reach out to connect if you have already expressed your lack of interests? The answer is simple I won’t visit your blog or reach out. I’ll get your message, reciprocate your unfollow and move on to network with other tweeps who have a mutual interest.

    If you are thinking about unfollowing 2000 people then why did you follow them in the first place?


    I agree with you 100%. If I am following someone and they never reply to message after message I’d eventually assume they aren’t interested and move on.


    Sounds like Twitter is not really “your thing” It’s ok Twitter doesn’t have to be for everybody.


    Thanks Ron and Well said.

    @Darla ,

    Thanks for the compliment Darla. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


    Thanks so much for all the wonderful comment participation today. 🙂

  • First off unfollowing everyone just makes you look like a clueless idiot with no idea about what social media is about, sort of like Oprah. Secondly it makes you look like a world class ass.

    Unfollowing isn’t a big deal, especially if they aren’t following back. There isn’t a need to follow someone who is following either. That said simply trying to get lots of followers without following anyone is pure simple digital megalomania.

  • @bradhart,

    Well said. Although the example in this post is more of mass unfollowing to get a better control of your twitter stream but it still gives off a bad impression to others in the twittersphere as you have described and is still a bad idea. I say it gives the impression that you don’t really want to connect and are just attempting to blast your one way message to the world.

    Thanks for the well put insight.

  • I fully agree with you, and when I read that post, I immediately stopped following him, as I seem to not be one of the chosen 100. Just unfollow and go away if you’re going to do it.

  • Mitch,

    My sentiments exactly.

  • People do use Twitter in many different ways, but the race to build numbers without any other criteria astounds me.

    There are non-“rockstar” tweeps with thousands in the follow/unfollow category as a result of massive efforts – but it seems to be a shallow victory. They don’t seem to be building relationships or loyalty.

    There are others who accept every follow but follow few back — even when they would seem to have compatible interests. There’s something “rockstar” about being followed by a few thousand and following back a few hundred.

    For me, Twitter is a social medium. I have nothing to market or sell, and there are only a few articles I write online that I tell people about. It has worked much better for me to block the 10-15 incompatible follow requests I get everyday, keeping my ratio 1:1. I only follow people I find interesting, and I only allow people to follow me if I am following them back.

    I love that my stream is now interesting, and that I have tweeted with at least everyone on my list once. I love that when I post an article, many people read it, and that I also read theirs.
    I love that my DM box isn’t full of spam — but most of all I think there’s something much more gratifying in choosing my online mates wisely instead of thinking about how it looks to others that I “only” have 592 people on my list.

  • @Jane,

    I personally find it amusing when people say stuff like Well past 1000 followers you can’t possibly be giving your followers the attention they deserve. I also don’t think follower count is the key. It’s more about networking and connecting on a genuine level to me.

    “There’s something “rockstar” about being followed by a few thousand and following back a few hundred. ”

    Some people may think this makes them look like a rockstar but personally I think it makes them look rather shallow.

    @brettborders wrote a great post about this exact topic. Dear Web ‘Celebrity’ Who Never Follows Anyone Back

    Sounds to me like you have a good grasp on the concept of Twitter and social media.

  • If I ever try to talk to someone on Twitter and can’t because they aren’t following me, I simply unfollow them and it makes me angry. Its 100% a slap in the face and saying that I am not interesting enough to talk too!

    Great post Gerald! I am glad somebody gets it!
    Whitney Segura

  • Thanks Whitney. 🙂

  • What’s twitter?

  • Unfollow everyone on Twitter made me think of someone would like to improve its follower ratio. No good idea!

  • What’s the point of ‘Networking’ when no one is even bothered about what you are writing. They are probably not even reading what you are sending across. I think its better to have ‘Less’ likeminded people than senseless Lots and Lots of unrelated unbothered audience.

  • trebuchet

    My rule of thumb – I generally unfollow internet marketers ;), mainly because most of them are “doing it wrong”. Using apps to generate followers, and spamming the same articles to everyone via twitterfeed is not real, nor alive.. and feels cheap To me it removes the social aspect of the network. As of late a lot more fake accounts have begun appearing, with the premise of being “news” feeds, or “niche” feeds, or fake female accounts.

    On a side note, your wp-spamfree is misconfigured (says the plugin when i submit my comment).

  • I find it really odd that there are tools to do this, and I also find odd that there’s tools to unfollow everyone who isn’t following you. (For example I don’t expect Stephen Fry to follow me, but I’d be really stupid to unfollow him because he doesn’t follow me.)

    Not following anyone on Twitter is BORING. That’s how I started on Twitter, and for a while I put on the auto follow thingy, just to build up some people to keep an eye on. These days I review everyone who follows me and follow them back if they seem interesting to me.

    I do find it quite off putting even if I find a celebrity Twitter-profile that says she or he isn’t following but a hand full of people. To me it says that this person clearly hasn’t understood the concept, not that they must be really cool.

  • @Sebastyne,

    It’s sounds to me that you “get it”. Social media is about being social. That’s the name of the game my friend. 😉

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Thanks for the post Gerald & feedback Joel! I want to say ‘I’m not a number I’m a person!’ The mass follow & unfollow trend smacks of the old one way conversation that old media have used in the past???? Get with the new Web 2.0 program & have 2 way conversations. Its fun & so… good for your health & sanity & keeps the oxygen coming to the old grey matter! Yeah get with the authentic program rather than marketing waffle! Then we are challenged to say something meaningful!

  • Note from Ann: We have placed this comment to where it belongs: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/devious-reddit/10454/

  • I recently unfollowed everyone I was following and have started over. I was directed to your post by @uMCLE who wrote about mass unfollowing here: http://bit.ly/31Dqjv

    I’ll have to write a whole long post about why I did it and what the outcome has been for me, but the short of it is this – if Twitter is really about interaction for you and not numbers, unfollowing everyone is great.

    Sure, it’s easy to get to 80,000 + followers by following 80,000 + people. Why? Because most people auto follow back.

    But, what I found is that when my numbers started to get really big, I wasn’t really interacting with anyone, my DM box became another spam box full of junk, and my tweet stream became a distraction.

    Now that I’ve unfollowed everyone and begun again, I’ve connected personally with just about everyone I’m following. If I haven’t, I hope to at some point. My DM box is empty other than hearing from people I want to hear from. And, my tweet stream is full of people I know, like and trust.

    If anyone I was following wants me to follow them back, I invite them to have a conversation with me. Let’s get to know each other. Otherwise, what’s the point?


  • @alexisneely,

    Here is the biggest problem with what you just said. Now everyone you unfollowed will be seeing your tweets but you won’t be seeing theirs. Of course not everyone one of them is going to unfollow you but you would not have that number of followers in the first place if you had not first followed them. (they reciprocated.) So now you will be sending your message (tweets) to them but you will not be seeing theirs. Saying they are welcome to unfollow you is not good enough. If you have thousands of followers you know good and well they aren’t all going to unfollow you.

    If you mean what you say about wanting to truly start over then how about closing your twitter account and starting from zero. That would be starting over. Unfollowing everyone you ever follower and then following only a select few is not starting over.

    This way you will be sending one way signals into the twittersphere.

    Each to his own, but this is not cool in my opinion.

  • Twitter is an area that will take some more time for people to adjust to what is best for them. Sometimes having to many people to follow can interfere with the social aspect of Twitter. It’s hard to find the ones you want to know about in amongst all the ones you are less interested in. Does it really ave any power when you have thousands of followers you aren’t interested in and they probably feel the same way about you. We tend to get hooked on the fact that we have more followers than others and it might make us feel loved or popular, but collecting followers just for that reason will mean you probably never interact with any of them in a true one to one sense. Each to their own and what works best for you is the best way to go.

  • You should never put yourself in the situation where you are even thinking about un-following thousands of people, unless you are dropping twitter in full. Obviously this subject was taking in followers that were not specific towards his niche market. There really is not another explanation to his reasoning. Still, he should have re-evaluated that situation, I don’t think many of his followers were happy being dropped like that.

  • Unfollowing everyone is like saying “I don’t care what you think unless you are speaking directly to me.”

    You can’t rely on DMs, because they won’t go thru if you aren’t following them. So you are left with @replies.

    There are enough great third-party desktop apps out there that allow you to do some real filtering (I use and love Seesmic Desktop), and if you’re a digital citizen, you are probably the type that has great inherent self-filtering going on anyway.

    Unfollowing also says “There is nothing I can learn from you” which implies you know it all.

    Don’t do it. Twitter is a community. Not just you sitting like a guru on the mountaintop waiting for people to come to you.

  • I think you BOTH missed the point. If you’re following 10,000 people, your follows don’t mean anything. There’s no way you actually find that many people interesting. Why are you following uninteresting people in the first place? I have a hard time believing you’ve even clicked to follow that many people.

    And, I’ll bet, MOST of the “people” following you are garbage anyway. More than likely you’ve used some tool that promised to get you followers. It’s just a sort of giant pyramid scheme and means next to nothing.

    Having only a few people that you follow and lots of followers does make you a sort of celebrity; but probably because you actually have something interesting to say. Twitter isn’t as much about having a conversation with everybody that follows you as it is about having conversations with people who add value to your life.

  • The missing option is “unfollowing all the spammers following you.”

    The first 30 days on twitter had me deluged in junk. DMs went unanswered. Tweeps went unanswered. There was nobody home and I was still looking at their garbage.

    I did go through and delete those folks. Life is much better now. I simply refuse to validate their conduct on twitter. That seems to me to be positive for twitter.

    • Of course I agree that unfollowing the spammers makes complete sense.

  • Micaël Masse

    Nice reflection and ponderation of the debate.

    I didn’t followed you, you add me, may I ask you why you add me and how you found me? (Just curious)

    Thanks, have a nice christmas time!