How I Unfollowed 108,698 People on Twitter and Reclaimed My Inbox

Last weekend, I determined that my Twitter direct message inbox was unmanageable. I was inundated with spam and requests from people I didn’t know. As a result, I decided to declare Twitter bankruptcy, unfollow everyone, and start over. I wrote about it earlier this week.

A Tale of Two Inboxes - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/swilmor, Image #4729175

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/swilmor

I had thought about doing this for months, but was nervous about the unintended consequences. However, after learning that Chris Brogan, Spence Smith, and Vicky Beeching had done the same thing and lived to tell about it, I decided to go for it.

I will outline the procedure I followed in a minute. But to cut to the chase, I am very happy with the outcome. I have finally reclaimed my Twitter inbox. I have not lost much in the process. I am still able to be “social.” I just have 99% of conversations in public, using Twitter’s reply feature.

In terms of the numbers, I have gone from following 108,698 to 157 (or so). I lost a total of 5,622 followers, going from 110,336 followers before I began to 104,714 now—about 5%. My Klout score has improved slightly, going from 75.9 to 76.2. (This isn’t really a big deal, but I expect that number to improve as Klout recalculates my follower-to-following ratio.)

In case you are considering doing this for yourself, I thought I would document the procedure I used here. I took the following seven actions:

  1. I evaluated my options. I should have not been following everyone to begin with. (Yes, I have already been scolded for this.) I explained my rationale in my last post.

    Regardless, I didn’t feel I had any options. I was getting dozens of spam messages like these every day (the last message is not spam):

    My Twitter DM Inbox

    These are only what was waiting for me when I woke up on Tuesday morning.

    Only you can decide whether or not it’s time to clean house. Regardless of what others might think or say, there is no right answer.

  2. I put those I wanted to follow on a list. Most people who are following more than 50 people have a mechanism for segmenting their followers. (You may be disappointed to know that I didn’t really pay attention to 108,698 people.) I use HootSuite. My wife, Gail, uses TweetDeck. Both are excellent.

    In addition, I also made use of Twitter lists. Everyone who is on a list will survive a mass unfollow, since you can put people on a list without following them. Just to make sure, I took a screenshot of each of my lists, using SnagIt. Here’s an example:

    My Family Twitter List

  3. I warned my followers before I started. Though I realized I wouldn’t eliminate being misunderstood, I wanted to minimize it. I also did this as a courtesy. I didn’t want people to think it was personal. It wasn’t.

    I tweeted several times about what I was going to do. I also wrote an entire blog post on the topic. I also engaged in the comments and Twitter replies, attempting to answer questions people had.

  4. I expected to be misunderstood. And, of course, I wasn’t disappointed. Chris Brogan’s post prepared me for this. People don’t always understand how Twitter works, disagree with how I am using it, or attach more importance to me following them than is warranted.

    Some thought I was stupid for auto-following everyone (which I was). Others thought I didn’t really understand social media. For example:

    Unfollow 04

    Some thought I was just arrogant, like this one:

    Unfollow 05

    One even asked, “What would Jesus do?”

    Unfollow 06

    Regardless, the amount of negative responses was pretty minimal—about 10 out of 108,698.

  5. I used an automated script. One person thought I should go through and do this manually. If you do the math, you quickly see that this is impossible. Assuming I could evaluate 20 per minute, that would take me 90 hours—two full work weeks.

    Instead. I used an automated script. There are several available. I used SocialOomph Professional. I was already a member of this service, so it didn’t cost anything additional. I just clicked on one button and SocialOomph did the rest:

    Unfollow 07

  6. I had to be patient—it took a while! I naively assumed that I would click the button, take my place in the queue, and, in a few hours, the whole thing would be done. Wrong.

    Twitter itself limits the number of API calls that third-party apps can make per hour. This is programmer-speak for the fact that third-party apps can only unfollow about 1,200–1,500 people per hour. It took SocialOomph a approximately 75 hours to unfollow everyone on my list.

  7. I re-followed those on my lists. This was the easy part. Once I had unfollowed everyone, I simply went to my Twitter list, displayed them, and followed everyone on the list, one-at-a-time. This took a total of less than ten minutes. I didn’t have to change anything in HootSuite, since these lists already corresponded to my HootSuite columns:

    Unfollow 08

    By the way, you can still engage me in a conversation on Twitter. Simply, address your post to @MichaelHyatt.” It will appear in my “Mentions” stream and I will reply publicly. This is even more social—like a dinner party—because others can listen in and join the conversation.

Again, I don’t think a mass unfollowing is for everyone. But it has served me well. I am glad I did it. I have experienced very little negative impact. Moreover, it has allowed me to reclaim my Twitter inbox. It is now, once again, useful for private messages between my family and friends.

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  • http://twitter.com/JoeAbrahamLive Joe Abraham

    Michael, I think what you have done is right and helpful. Though I am not an experienced hand to make a proper comment on this, nevertheless, I have thought about how those with large ‘following’ and ‘followers’ could do justice to their ‘real’ friends and family. What you have done is a good alternative!

  • http://davidlarteyblog.wordpress.com David Lartey

    Yeah you said it earlier that you will be misunderstood and I understand that, but I think people sounding so hard are some how ‘wrong’ because something being the perfect thing  in their own evaluation doesn’t mean that thing is looks perfect in the eyes of others.

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

    I appreciate not only the action, but how you modeled it (without arrogance) both before and after. Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Michael. I appreciate that.

      • http://sharingmatters.com Paul Montwill

        Michael, you did it in a very elegant way. Much better that expected.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Michael, I agree with you. Michale Hyatt handled it with class and dignity. He gave an explanation he did not need to give.

  • http://www.endgamebusiness.com/blog Steve BOrek

    I recently did the same with both Twitter and Facebook although my numbers weren’t as large as yours so went the manual route.

    Why be connected to someone if you don’t know them or like them or interact with them.

    I actually made the announcement on Facebook and it was fun to see those saying they wanted to be spared from my pruning exercise. I eliminated 40% of my list and still working on getting it down more.

    Thanks though for the tip on how to automate the process.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Steve, it’s amazing the amount of people we follow and friend and then never interact with them. I’ve trimmed my Facebook friends by a couple of hundred and still have more on there that I never interact with.

      How many of those that said they wanted to be spared had interacted with you recently?

  • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

    Thanks for sharing the tools you use, appreciate it! I wish there was a “smart” tool that would allow me to follow people back automatically by using keywords, like “homeschooling mom” or something. THAT would be wonderful. 

    I also miss Twitter groups because they were private, and lists are public. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Actually, lists can be public or private.

      • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

        I did not know they could be private…thanks for the info.

    • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

      An automatic filter… Now THAT would be a GREAT tool!

      • http://twitter.com/yarby Jason Yarborough

        Check out Tweetadder.

    • http://twitter.com/dszp David Szpunar

      I believe there are tools out there (either SocialOomph like Michael mentioned or others similar) that let you follow people who use certain keywords. However, there is plenty of “keyword spam” and “hashtag spam” out there so it’s not really safe from spammers to do that either. Services like CoTweet and Assistly do let you create saved searches (HootSuite, MetroTwit, TweetDeck, and plenty of other clients do too) that let you easily look at only tweets containing certain terms, though most don’t auto-follow due to spam (Twitter.com itself has a saved  searches feature). So you can follow certain keywords, but I think autofollow is a bad recipe in any case; it’s not hard to follow people from saved searches quickly if they are informative and not spammy!

  • Nathan Creitz

    Would you recommend a similar strategy for google+ or do you add anyone who adds you?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am very selective about adding people in Google+. Yes, I would recommend a similar strategy.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Seems the “Mass Unfollow of 2011″ is the trend for those with a significant following. : ) I don’t think the average Twitter user experiences the same dynamic / problem at the volume someone with 100k+ followers has but the AUTO-FOLLOW (following back anyone who follows) deal appears to be the real issue at hand for most. To me, I think it’s all about scale and how one intends to use Twitter. Goes back to asking ourselves “Why am I on Twitter?” and “What do I want to get out of it?” I think those questions drive the answers and how we use it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, two good questions. The spam issue was my primary driver. I haven’t had a single message in over three days—even before SocialOomph had finished unfollowing everyone.

      • David Szpunar

        I’ve always vetted who I follow manually, and I have never, ever had a single spam direct message as far as I can recall. If I did it was maybe one or two. But I get spammers following me every day…which is fine, I don’t evaluate each new person following me, because this would be a waste of time, and I follow more than I can keep track of anyway now. Usually the spammer accounts get deleted within a day or two anyway by Twitter so unless I feel like reporting them all myself, looking at each new follower is pointless to me. I do get spam  and mentions, but usually only 0-3 per day, and usually right after I tweet with “spammy” keywords like iPhone or something popular that spammers are doing keyword searches for so they can tell me about how I can “get a free one” or some such nonsense. These I always report for spam immediately and the tweet is removed from my Mentions tab (on twitter.com and TweetBot on my iPhone) immediately, and I never see them again. Not very time consuming, and the only spam I see on Twitter really!

        Guess that was my long way of saying I agree with you, and your findings are validated by my own Twitter use (and my DMs have been spam-free for 3+ years following this method even though I follow over 500 people). Kudos!

        • Jeff Abramovitz

          thanks for the reply…helpful tools for people to use as they get smarter about growing a Twitter list and maintaining one.  Not always the same goal.  Sometimes you grow (I use TweetAdder) to refine who I follow but people are smart and use keywords in their bio’s that will cause them to be followed when all the while they want to spam you.  But, all of that happens outside of online media, right?  I mean, people will tell you what they want you to hear or give you a description of themselves to get their “foot in the door” but what really matters is who you are when no one is watching!  Those are the people I want to converse with anyway, even if I don’t agree with them on philosophical, social or faith issues.  Be yourself is a constant mantra for life, not just social medai.  Thanks, David!!

  • Bradenton322

    Michael,

    I applaud your decision.  It is hard enough to keep up with our own lives and those around us.  It is even harder to keep up with friends we met online but have never greeted them with a handshake and a warm smile.  We may have never shaken each other’s hand or said hello in person but we have done so online. 

    I am not one who can comment everyday about everything that is going on.  To do so would take up more time away from things that are important to me: God, Family, Work (in that order). 

    When we are not able to truly reach that handshake or give that smile to people we see everyday then it is time to reconnect with them. 

    So, Great decision and I was not offended by your decision or action.  Keep providing the great information and I will keep following you but will not be offended if you are not able to follow me.

    Maybe someday when you are in my neighborhood, I can actually say hello and offer that handshake, a smile and even a cup of coffee or a cold drink.

    Thanks for all you do.
    God Bless

    Michael Bragg
    Bradenton322

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Michael. I appreciate that.

  • http://www.mikeciesiensky.com/ Mike Ciesiensky, Jr

    I think what you did is great. Social Media is about engaging people. You have to be at a position where you can effectively engage people.

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    I rarely get spam in my inbox, but I follow individuals on a manual basis. I follow based on interests and niche, for the most part.
    I also follow those whom mentor me from afar, such as yourself and Jeff Goins. Although you aren’t mothers, you are bloggers and writers whom I look up to and glean wisdom from (thank you). :)

  • http://www.lionstand.com Jamie (Lionstand)

    Leaders always have to make hard choices and you made one. I applaud you for your boldness by sticking with it.

    And to offer some support by answering some of your critics;

    I value the wisdom that you have because you open yourself up to new ideas on a consistent basis.

    In any conversation I have ever had with you, I have never detected a hint of arrogance.

    And I’m pretty sure Jesus asked us to follow Him, and not the other way around ;)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is exactly right about Jesus. Thanks.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Good thought, Jamie :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/drdbthompson David Thompson

    My Twitter account is not my problem; FB is. I have too many “friends” and can’t keep up with those I really want to track. It’s my own fault, of course, and now I just need to tell them what I’m doing and reclaim my FB space such that my family and close friends become visible to me once again.

    Well done, sir, and I appreciate the comments about what you did, why, and how.

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      Business needs to mushroom, but I agree, personal FB stuff is better small and selective. Investigate the difference between a “page” and a “profile.” My wife and I have our business page, and we each have our personal page. This might work for you.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        That’s what I did, too. About two years ago, I moved all my friends to a page and keep my profile for family and close friends.

    • http://davidlarteyblog.wordpress.com David Lartey

      I don’t have lots of friends on fb because I cleared lots of them one day when I was just feeling bored now I have to gather them again which is something that I don’t enjoy doing so learning to love the small crowd I love and have.

  • http://paulcoughlin.com Paul Coughlin

    Thanks for leading the way with that Michael. Documenting the whole process, the ‘why’, and the ‘what happened’ helps us a lot. Great work.

    • http://davidlarteyblog.wordpress.com David Lartey

      I join you in thanking Michael Hyatt for this post.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Ditto!

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    I think your idea is going to take off and help rejuvenate interest in Twitter. To tell you the truth, I’ve long ignored my DM just because of the spam. I’ll be implementing this soon and get back into it, because I’ve always enjoyed Twitter more the FB.

    BTW, I laughed at the Jesus comment. Maybe you can start a new line of products. “How Would Jesus Tweet?”

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      “Come, follow me, and I will make you…”

  • Jrbdanish58

    Thank you for a complete and thoughful process to handle the “twitter overload”. You have a very clear and concise way to explain the pros and cons of even the necessary situations.

    It would be so nice if we could have such a clean and purposed way to clear on mental “inbox” when it is overloaded with mistakes of our past. Any suggestions?

  • http://smallgroupbooks.com Ryan K

    I agree there is no right or wrong here. Glad you did what did what works for you.

    Is there any advantage of using a Twitter Inbox over email or google+/Facebook. I personally have enjoyed using google+ to send friends messages and see when they reply.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I try to use the communication mechanism that will get the quickest response. That depends on the person and where they “live.” If they live in Twitter, I use Twitter. Thanks.

  • http://TBBbookstore.com/ Ellis Still

    This is something that I have long been considering. I do
    not come close to following the number of people that you follow, nor for those
    who follow me. But it just seems like I follow many more people who do not
    follow me back, and being a newbie, I expected something in return. While the
    number of people following me are slowly growing, this post makes me re-think
    how I use twitter, and what it really means to build relationships.
     

  • http://twitter.com/NancyD68 Nancy Davis

    Why have the ‘auto-follow” policy in the first place? I am going to tell you that while I respect you as a book publisher, I think it is this kind of arrant nonsense that makes Twitter and other social networking difficult for less established folks like myself to break in.

    I think that if you wanted better control over your inbox, you should not have been following everyone who followed you in the first place.

    As far as the DMs are concerned – you are aware that a person you follow can click on something and you can get those messages all over again right? Again, you punished those who maybe wanted to interact with you about leadership – for what  KLOUT SCORE? Really? Is this what we have come to?

    This makes me sad. Leadership is not about Klout scores. Real leadership is about bringing out the best in people.

    This all screams of attention seeking behavior. That you are doing this for a better Klout score made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Please read my original post, which is linked to twice in the article. I explained why I auto-followed people. In this post, I said that that was stupid. “Guilty as charged.”
      Yes, I am aware that someone can click on a DM link, and I can get spammed all over again. However, I have never been spammed by someone I know. If I am, I know it was a mistake and can notify them. This is way different than getting 20–30 spam DMs a day, not to mention another 20–30 pitches, requests, for favors, etc., from people I don’t know.
      People can still interact with me via replies. I do it daily.

      As I mentioned in the post, the Klout score is not a big deal. It’s just an added benefit.
      Thanks.

    • David S.

      Way to go! You did a great job of modeling pretty much everything you yelled at Michael for in your post, such as arrogance and doing things wrong. Not to mention displaying your complete and utter lack of understanding of Twitter and how it works. Oh, and you sound like you didn’t actually read Michael’s post or his previous ones, which as he mentions, you linked to. Congratulations on your display of Internet ignorance! I assume that’s what you were aiming for? :-)

      • David S.

        correction, “you linked to” should be “he linked to” (I stand by the rest :-)

  • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

    Inspired by your post earlier this week and tired of the “noise” in my main Twitter stream that was drowning out the tweets I actually wanted to see, I began to unfollow a large majority of those I was following. To be completely honest, I didn’t know who most of them were and had never actually interacted with them. A few unfollowed me back, and I accidentally unfollowed at least one friend (who thought she might have offended me until I explain the error), but overall I’m finding the whole thing freeing. I like having less “noise” in my life!

  • Lawrence

    Really puts life in perspective when so many care about who you follow or don’t follow on a site like Twitter. And not only that, but that a talented individual like yourself has to go to such great lengths to set the stage, explain himself along the way, and then debrief on the results. The sensitivities of the social age are as perplexing as the social age itself. Our focus continues to stray further and further and further and further from what really matters. I’m discouraged that someone actually uses a “what would Jesus do” analogy to help/encourage you to reflect on your decision. Ugh. Do it your way, Michael – more power to you!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This would make a fascinating social study.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    Sounds like it was a good decision for you!

  • http://twitter.com/BenjaminMcCall Benjamin McCall

    Nobody cares

  • http://www.eileenknowles.blogspot.com Eileen

    I’m not so sure why people have gotten so upset about it.  I only have a couple hundred followers and it’s time consuming to manage and keep up with just that.  I can’t imagine followers in the six digits and trying to weed through all the spam.  Good for you.

  • Colleen Coble

    Well, this changes everything. :) When people asked why I followed everyone back, I always said, “Because Mike says so.” LOL So like a lemming, I’ll be following your lead! It’s kind of. . .freeing. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry I led you astray!

  • pamela

    MH, I’m so grateful for your posts! 

    Your remarks on how Twitter works have been my only resource (of course I could google elsewhere people, but it’s not of great concern as I’m homeschooling children – I choose my sources carefully by who gives the greatest impact).  

    I was shocked when I received the notice you were following me on Twitter too, but it did give my own confidence a boost! Praise the Lord you are reclaiming your own social media life – your time is precious, just like each of us, and using it to read junk mail anywhere, distracts from your kingdom purpose. . .

  • David Murrow

    the first step to recovery…We admitted that we were powerless over social media, and that our Twitter feeds had become unmanageable.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha! I love that.

  • http://simplemom.net Tsh @ SimpleMom.net

    I unfollowed most of my people this summer (from 60k to about 450). It helped me enjoy Twitter again. And I did have a number of people misunderstand me; a reader tracked me down on my personal Facebook account and ask what I did to offend her. Still very much worth it.

    Kudos to you, Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is so interesting how a few people seem to get their sense of self-worth out of who follows them. I had a guy write me a long email last night. The subject line was “Shot to the Heart.” Amazing.

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        I can’t imagine being really crushed if someone unfollowed me… maybe if my wife unfollowed me.  That would be a low-point :)

  • http://bringonthebooks.blogspot.com Jaymie Dieterle

    Good for you! Ignore the complainers – they obviously don’t understand that you have a personal life in addition to a public one and need to keep that in perspective. I think you have explained yourself clearly and honestly. Enjoy your new freedom!

  • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

    I understand why you for unfollowed everyone.  Since you weren’t really reading everyone’s posts anyway, I think it is more genuine to follow the people you are truly interested in reading. And since it makes your life easier, it’s win-win.

    What I want to know is when did you make that hilarious video?  (*wink*)

  • http://www.doris-socialworker.blogspot.com Doris Plaster

    I always wondered how people could manage the thousands of followers on Twitter. You confirmed my  suspicion: it is a nightmare!

    You have done the right thing. I am very selective on who I add on my twitter, and even more on my Facebook. I remove followers when I start noticing spam. 

    Thank you for the useful information you have shared.

    Doris
    http://www.doris-socialworker.blogspot.com

  • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

    Some of those comments were pretty funny! :)

  • http://bit.ly/brandonrobbins Brandon Robbins

    Thanks for sharing this Mike. It’s neat to see the process you used. I love how strategic you are about big decisions. You are great to learn from. In addition, I apologize for all of those with bad attitudes about the situation. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with unfollowing people. You aren’t doing it out of a personal spite or anything of the sort. You have legitimate reasons. I am frustrated that people have given you a hard time. Jesus had to address issues that were hindering him from doing his life work as well. Nothing you have done is un- Christlike, my friend, as I’m sure you know. I am thankful for your influence and will continue to be in support of you and your work. :)

  • http://www.powerfeedback.com/ Scott Gingold

    I totally understand your decision and though I am no where close to the amount of followers that you have,  I can appreciate your position.

    I am selective on who I follow and do check out their tweets before I follow them back. I also make it a rule not to follow people who don’t follow me back. Yes, I know that there are people I can learn from who I am not following, but I also know that I have a lot to offer as well. After I follow someone I give them a couple of days to follow back. Using a few different tools (i.e. ManageFlitter) I can easily drop those who are not following back. Similarly I also use monitor who is inactive (i.e. not posted in 30+ days) as I have no reason to keep following people who are not contributing. 

    Are my self-imposed rules right or wrong? Not 100% sure, but it works for me.

  • http://profiles.google.com/stevencbradley Steven Bradley

    Michael, thank you very much for the information.  I don’t have the problem (I use Twitter for family and friends, principally those out of town), and don’t have the “social reach” you do.  I think I sort of got “warned” on this during the Iraq elections, when I followed a few folks who seemed to be commenting with some intelligence on them, and soon discovered that “following everyone” was not the way to go.   So I guess I was lucky. My biggest mistakes have been following news organizations.  Twitter is great, but better used the way it was intended. Thanks for your always-helpful posts, and for having the Chutzpah to do what’s needed when it’s tough.

  • http://twitter.com/johnlambert John Lambert

    Isn’t amazing how we are ever learning and evolving when it comes to social media strategy.  Best position is to always be a learner at heart and flexible, right?

  • Karenselliott

    I think you did good. I try to be selective when following people (even after they have followed me), but at the beginning, I was just click click clicking away. I realize now that there is a lot of garbage on Twitter. I’ve unfollowed people who make stupid comments over and over – those who add nothing to the flow. I say Thumbs Up to you!

  • Bobby Capps

    But… if everyone did like you…? don’t worry, we won’t.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, some of the tweets you got are tough.  Social media gives everyone a soapbox to spew their judgements and criticisms. Some things aren’t worth having an opinion about.

    I get  why you did it.  I get lots of spam with just 2000 people I follow. I can’t imagine having our kind of numbers.  I was thinking of going in a pruning my follower list.  Some people have just stopped tweeting. Others are only pushing their products.  But I don’t have time to do this right now.

  • http://katdish.net katdish

    I’m glad to hear you will no longer use the auto-refollow service. As someone else has mentioned here, I think that’s the primary reason people have taken issue with the mass unfollow. I follow Tim Siedell (aka @badbanana). I didn’t follow him with the expectation that he would follow me back, I followed him because I enjoy (immensely) reading his tweets. He follows 274 people and has a following of well over 500,000. Auto-refollowing is disingenuous. It gives the impression that you are more approachable and engaged than you actually are. And while I understand the need to do a mass unfollow because of all the spam accounts it pulls in, I also know that for all the online marketers and spam accounts you’ve eliminated, you have also eliminated thousands of regular, flesh and blood people who were absolutely thrilled to have someone they admire and respect follow them back. However misguided and naive their assumptions may be, it still hurts to realize that you never really mattered in the first place.

  • http://wwww.kentrecommends.com Kent Faver

    I agree it’s just one more misunderstood medium in a sea of pixeled humanity.  People get hung up over silly stuff.  We’re one day from the 9/11/01 decade anniversary.  I found out last evening a good friend who I haven’t talked with in too long has a serious form of cancer.  Twitter doesn’t matter in the least eternally.  But, I do appreciate the post Michael – I think it probably goes deeper than you intended.  We need to de-socialize at times to re-focus and re-commit to that which matters.

    Kent

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for that reminder, Kent. I agree.

  • http://twitter.com/ElisePhotini Elise Photini Adams

    I’m wondering what your recommendation would be in regard to building a platform without growing it to such an unwieldy and impersonal level?  I certainly appreciate your judicious use of Twitter I’m wondering how a newbie can best use these social media outlets to grow my contacts wisely.  

    One helpful aspect of being followed by respected public figures, like you, is that there is a sense of community from our shared followers.  

    Do you plan on following only close friends or do you plan on spreading around your influence a bit more, just more intentionally?  (I totally agree about not auto-following!)

    Just wondering about your thoughts moving forward. 

    Thanks for being such a great leader!

    ~Elise

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think you have to first distinguish between being followed and following. There is not a practical limit on how many people follow us. It scales. The more the merrier. However, there is a very real limit on how many you can follow or give your attention to. That doesn’t scale. Less is more. Thanks.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com Paul B Evans

    Love this article. In fact, it was so convincing I stopped following myself! :))

    The truth is that people of influence cannot/should not follow everyone following them. It’s just not possible.

    Jesus had the crowds, the 72, the 12 the 3 the 1. Intimacy shifted radically with each level. You don’t see him following the crowds. Many can follow 1. But 1 cannot follow many.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a perfect example.

  • Anonymous

    Michael – I’m new to Twitter and you were one of the first people I followed (since I made the leap thanks to a couple of helpful articles from you).  I thought it was so great when you followed me back…until I saw that you were following almost 110,000 people.  It makes me think of kids’ sports these days, and the idea that “everyone’s a winner.”  Beyond age 7 or 8, I think that is a dangerous message that instills mediocrity and makes “winning” meaningless.  In the same way, it’s not possible to build meaningful relationships if it’s a numbers game.  That can only happen when decisions about who to interact with are made on purpose.  I appreciate your openness about the process and hope you enjoy the extra space in your in-box!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Liz. I think you make a great point about everyone being a winner. It is a dangerous message. We have created an entire culture that now feels entitled.

  • Anonymous

    I think it is absolutely laughable that people actually had the gall to be offended. Lists are definitely the way to go. You can still keep tabs on conversations and send replies to people without them cluttering your timeline. It’s your timeline and people should respect your choice. And the guilt trip referring to Jesus? Come on. Last I checked, our self-worth as believers comes from our knowledge of the love of God through His son, and not how many people are following us on a social network!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen!

      • Anonymous

        So sorry for the repeat replies! Don’t know what happened. I refreshed it and didn’t realize it kept posting. Apparently was viewing as “Oldest first.” Oooops! Feel free to delete the repeats. :-)

  • Anonymous

    I think it is absolutely laughable that people actually had the gall to be offended. It’s your timeline and people should respect your choice. Lists are definitely the way to go. You can still keep tabs on conversations and send replies to people without them cluttering your timeline. And the guilt trip referring to Jesus? Come on. Last I checked, our self-worth as believers comes from our knowledge of the love of God through His son, and not how many people are following us on a social network!

  • Anonymous

    I think it is absolutely laughable that people actually had the gall to be offended. It’s your timeline and people should respect your choice. Lists are definitely the way to go. You can still keep tabs on conversations and send replies to people without them cluttering your timeline. And the guilt trip referring to Jesus? Come on. Last I checked, our self-worth as believers comes from our knowledge of the love of God through His son, and not how many people are following us on a social network!

  • Ramon Presson

    I totally agree. I follow only a handful of people (which you are one–no brown nosing intended)  because 1) I am genuinely interested and helped by what that person consistently offers and 2) My time to read tweets is severely limited. 

    Why tell someone I’m going to “follow” them if I’m not?
    I don’t follow the rule of follow someone who indicates they are following you. When that is coming from a complete stranger what it is that besides, ‘Hey, let’s collude to both get our follower numbers up.”  Sorry, not interested.  Why do I care about my own follower numbers if those people aren’t reading my stuff. Why subscribe to a magazine you’re never going to even pick up? 

    Are we that insecure that we need some type of numerical validation that says complete strangers have us on their inflated lists of other strangers?  Forget what the social networking & marketing experts & gurus say about numbers and percentages, what does my need for collecting misleading stats of approval say about ME? 

    By the way, the lady’s response about Jesus “unfollowing us”  is just too funny. It’s even funnier because she is serious. That’s bumper sticker material there: “Jesus Will Never Unfriend You.” 

  • http://shelaughsblog.com Shaena Crespo

    Good for you. I laughed out loud when I read the what would Jesus do tweet. Hello! Jesus didn’t follow anyone, He’s God. People are so silly.
    I’ve often wondered what the benefit of following everyone would be. Granted I’m not a celeb so I don’t have 100000s of people wanting to follow but when someone follows me I look at their past tweets. If they are interesting to me I follow back. Maybe my # of followers won’t grow, but seriously I’d rather have a 100 people who are really blessed by my ministry than a 10000 who just wanted a follow back.

  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

    This is exactly how I use Skype. I do not want someone messaging me while I’m working, but I still need it on because I volunteer for a ministry and the owner of Studylight.org is a missionary in Gdansk, Poland. He isn’t just a phone call away.

    Good for you, Mike! I’m glad to know that I’m not an anti-social, and I’m in the same boat as you because I want to limit what comes into my inbox. I’m in good company :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=151100080 Rhonda Ritenour

    I really appreciate your willingness to share your thought process and helpful hints behind what could have possibly been a tedious process. I am relatively new to Twitter and have greatly benefited from your insight and recommendations! Thanks!

    Rhonda 

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Mike, I don’t know how you do it. How do you stay such a positive, generous person when people are so mean-spirited and critical?

    Your commitment to constantly create and bless is an example to me.

    “What would Jesus do?” Are you KIDDING me?

    What’s interesting is Jesus did something very similar.

    After feeding thousands of people, he said, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood.” Almost everybody left, except twelve men. They wanted more than bread.

    This is the cost of finding your tribe.

    Thanks for doing stuff worth criticizing, Mike. I learn so much from you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You made my day, Jeff! Thanks for your kind, encouraging words.

  • http://www.carlthomas.net/ carl thomas

    I only follow people I want to follow.  Pretty simple plan.

  • http://about.me/RobertPop RobertPop

    I just couldn’t stop laughing when I read how others reacted to your decision :)) The one with ‘Jesus’ was hilarious!

    I think what you’ve done was, first, a good choice, and second, a decision you shouldn’t have been judged for. You have the right to follow whoever you want to, that’s what I think.

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    I think you went about this process very thoughtfully and made a wise decision. I have about 560 people I follow and really need to use lists. Thank you for sharing and communicating to your followers so well.

  • Samuel Choy

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Even though I don’t follow enough people for this to apply to me, watching the process was very interesting. Sorry about the nasty reactions you received.

    The funny thing is that when I read about what you were doing, I realized that I didn’t follow you in Twitter. So as result of your mass unfollow exercise, you got at least one more follower: me.

    Don’t feel obliged to follow me ;-) I don’t tweet much anyway.

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    I didn’t take it personally when you unfollowed me. I figured you didn’t have time to read my tweets anyway, so it was more of a formality. It’s nice when somebody you admire or respect follows you back on Twitter, but I’m under no illusions that you read any of my tweets, nor do people like Andy Andrews, who also followed me back. I’ve mostly checked out of Twitter lately, preferring to do my interaction on Facebook. Google Plus has a lot of promise, but is nowhere near critical mass yet.

    Twitter has a LOT of annoyances, especially when people surrender their credentials. I’ve unfollowed people who end up tweeting about  “great free site that gets you tons of followers!” Follow Friday drives me nuts, as do people who post the same tweet over and over again, like tweeting about a new blog post 12 times an hour for a week, or about their “social media consultant” services.

  • Steve Mackey

    I laughed when I read that someone tried to pull the WWJD card… he followed 12…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bonny-Korsmo-Clark/572350192 Bonny Korsmo Clark

    Your pt. #4 literally made me LOL.  People do tend to take things a little to seriously … it’s Twitter. It’s social networking.  Lighten up, folks!  *breathe!*

    • Joe Lalonde

      Bonny, it’s part of the day we live in. The same thing happens with text messages, emails, phone calls, etc… If it is not answered or returned right away people are offended.

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    I am going in the opposite direction. I guess mainly because I only follow around 1200 people, but I am adding people that seem real and available to learn from.

    The thing is I do not use any list. I literally see every single one of the tweets of the people I follow (when I am looking, which is fairly often). 

    But I am stil pretty grateful that I maybe get 1 or 2 DM spams a day. Not to bad really. 

    As of now I am fine with following a majority of people. What I want to get better at though is finding out ways to have more reach with the people that follow me. 

  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler Braun

    So would you say that your original strategy to follow back everyone who followed you was wrong?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It made sense at the time for the reasons I cited in my original post. Thanks.

  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler Braun

    Oh never mind I see you addressed that in the post itself. Good on you. Nice post.

  • tim milburn

    When people ask me about the value of Twitter, I tell them a quick little story:

    “I wanted to see if I could get a preview copy of a John Maxwell book to review on my blog. It was being published by Thomas Nelson. I could have gone through all kinds of research and phone calls and emails to find out how it might work. But instead, I simply tweeted @michaelhyatt:disqus  and asked the question: Do you make preview copies available for bloggers to review? (this was before the whole books for bloggers program). Within 24 hours I received a response from you with the simple answer: “Unfortunately, no.”

    I tell people that Twitter gave me access to the CEO (at that time) of Thomas Nelson.

    The very cool thing that people are missing here is that you make yourself available – through Twitter, Facebook, and most importantly, your blog. You also respond to notes, posts, and tweets. It’s not a matter of who follows or who is following. It’s a matter of connection…and communication.

    You’re presence on Twitter has proven (to me!) that it’s more than a place for you to dispense information to us. But that it can actually provide access and conversation in ways that were never possible 10 years ago.

    I’ve been able to talk with authors, sports personalities, people in far off countries, and even my Senator through Twitter.

    If cleaning up and streamlining your Twitter account makes it easier for you to be accessible to others, how can that be a bad thing?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for that story, Tim. I appreciate you sharing it.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      That’s a great story, Tim.  I, too, have been able to have conversations with people that I wouldn’t otherwise have much interaction with.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Michael, you uncaring, arrogant, unfeeling, twit. You make me throw-up! I can’t believe you missed an opportunity to spam 110,000 followers about your new book, tell them that they look great in their new movie, and then sell your list to a large conglomerate.

    What were you thinking??

    So now you have an empty follow list..

    I guess I know the feeling…

    Priceless!

    Congrats! :-)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha! You made me do a double-take.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        It was hard to be funny and write those words since they are so untrue. I am glad you are a good guy… imagine how much DM damage a spammer could do with 110,000 followers… yikes!

  • http://davidlarteyblog.wordpress.com David Lartey

    One fear most young one have for tomorrow is how will they handle the fans when their wish to become famous is achieved and it is great to have leaders that actually show us how to do this when that time arrives. Thank you again Michael for this post.

  • Ken Rosen

    Your DM screenshot makes it clear you had little productive choice. Well described…in your reasoning and process.

    Cheers, Ken

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robin-Shelby/1356338101 Robin Shelby

    Admittedly, when I read that you were unfollowing I felt that little fist in my gut but the feeling was fleeting and lasted only a moment. :) Being new to Twitter, I haven’t had this dilemma but I have noticed that since I do not follow everyone who follows me my Stats occasionally drop; (about 20 or 30% will unfollow me in a couple of days.) I check profiles and past posts (toungue twister :) before deciding if I want to see updates from you. It really doesn’t matter if you follow me back, I was reading your posts! Truthfully, I check in on Twitter about three times each week or if I have a good Papa quote to post from that still small voice…that’s it. I continue to BLOG on MySpace but do not have the time to respond to two thousand people. My Facebook is for people whom I actually know or am related to! In Heaven maybe we can all have enough time for each and every one of our brothers and sisters, on Earth we are humans with very human limitations and internet social media would be an unpaid full time job. :) Oh yes, and the post about what would Jesus do? He would do what any omnipresent God would do! But we are not omnipresent God! My heart knows no boundaries, my hands and time however have some very human limitations.
     
    In peace,
     
     R.Leigh1 (Here’s a funny, I cannot sign in with Twitter because it’s over capacity. :)

  • Fletch

    WOW! I hope those sample comments were a VERY small representative sample. Mind boggling.
    As if the very act of being on a social media platform somehow obligates you to follow others and even further obligates you once you do.
    Reminds me of a comment my dad used to make when I was a kid and observed him not reacting when the phone rang:
    “I have a telephone for my convenience, not for the convenience of whoever it is who might try to call me.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love your dad’s quote! Yes, this was a really minor reaction—thankfully!

  • Ashley Williams

    Do you have a post about Twitter lists? I use this resource as well but think many people could benefit from knowing more about this feature. What lists do you recommend to keep things organized?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m afraid I don’t. I am not sure there is enough to write an entire blog post about it. You might want to check this out from the Twitter site itself, “How To Use Twitter Lists.”

  • Meladymeknight

    Loved this post & comments. Thank you for being so amazing, Michael Hyatt!

  • http://livingpower.blogspot.com Laurie Wallin

    I have to admit it bummed me to see you’d unfollowed after I followed and RTd your posts so often for a year, but I admire that you are making space for your priorities. If you never did anything unpopular, you’d be a wimp, and well, we all appreciate your lack of wimpiness and the ways you help us all grow in our businesses and ministries!

  • http://www.culturesmithconsulting.com cherylsmith

    I’m paying close attention to this. You started, of course, on Facebook when you began your “official” page. Recently another friend has cleaned up her social media life and I’m very intrigued. It can all be a bit too much to manage realistically without becoming a sounding board, and still maintain important relationships. You’ve got me thinking!

  • Jcoffhaus

    Personally, I think this makes your twitter life more real. Why pretend to do something you actually aren’t doing? I am quite happy just to follow your tweets without having it reciprocated.

    • Joe Lalonde

      I agree. I follow Michael because I want to hear what he has to say not because he will follow me if I follow him.

  • Todd P

    Fair enough.  I could understand why a “superuser” would do something like this, and I’m fairly sure that list includes tweeters with over 100,000 followers.  But only somebody with an established name in the marketplace could pull it off without serious ramifications.  My only question would be is –  did you have enough of a “name” to have earned that large of a following without your auto-follow back policy?  I ask that as a general question for contemplation, not as specific reflection towards you.
    Twitter is still a strange creature to me and I think there is some dishonesty in it, because – as you would likely admit – there are probably many on that six-figure list who aren’t paying attention to you, either.
    As for the arrogance claim, I think you have struck the proper balance in letting people know you have a sincere intention to engage people publicly if there is a real dialogue being sought.  It will be interesting to see that in practice, meaning, that has the potential to be as cumbersome as a spammy DM box.
    I didn’t realize this was a trend with some in Twitter.  Of all the social media, Twitter seems the most apt to develop its own standard of “class distinction”, and that, to me, is a disappointment.  The idea that getting certain people to follow me back can elevate my status on Twitter seems to run counter to the connectivity social media purports to create.
    Ironically, without knowing this you popped up on my “not following back” earlier today.  I am still following you.  No hard feelings.  Just don’t forget to invite me when you rent out LP field to throw a party for all your followers.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You ask a good question. I honestly don’t know the answer.

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    I think what you did is good and alot more people should consider doing the same. We love for people to see we have this big following but how does it benefit what you’re trying to get from twitter? The point of social media should be to build relationships, not pride!

  • http://krissiwyss.wordpress.com Krissi

    I see the point of this entirely…but let me tell you the positive side of what you did in auto-follow. I had very few twitter connections, probaby until the time I followed you. I still have very few, but I don’t use twitter as a real tool at this point. But, I saw that there were people willing to interact with me. Up until that point, I was following a few local friends & some ministers. Most of the ministers I was following couldn’t care less about interacting with people they don’t know on Twitter.

     One of my friends, who is a minister, unfollowed me, in the middle of some communication we were having at an important time. She was still DMing me, not realizing I couldn’t & I knew why. She didn’t. We’re still friends, but it makes the level of friendship clear.

    Anyway, I said all of that to say-thanks for following for a little while, it gave me a hint at how twitter can be used. And while I know I need to work on my use of Twitter as tool for platform & some of us will have to follow one another, if we want platforms built, for now it doesn’t matter to me!

    There are very few people that I want to hear from on Twitter without them reciprocating…You, however, are one of them!! Thanks for sharing your wisdom!!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Krissi. I appreciate your support.

  • http://lisarivero.com/ Lisa Rivero

    Last spring I closed my Twitter account because I felt overwhelmed by the expected etiquette of #ff and #ww and thank you’s. I just wanted to use Twitter to find and share resources. Just last week I re-joined and am starting from scratch again for followers/following, but I am realizing it’s okay to set my own rules for the extent to which I use Twitter as a social hangout. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely! Not only are there no real rules, it is an evolving medium. I think we have to continue to adapt. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/StacySJensen Stacy S. Jensen

    It’s silly, but after I read the first post. I wondered what your Klout score was. Interesting. Thanks for sharing it. I decided to unfollow you on Twitter, not because I was unfollowed. Rather after reading your posts I realized  I follow you in different ways as a blog subscriber. Your posts on this topic have made me take a closer look at my Social Media streams. Now that I know more about Social Media, I am more careful with G+. Thank you for your helpful posts on this topic and others. 

  • http://thepaisano.com Paisano®

    you could have just blocked the spammers and reported them. Mass Unfollowing many good people who’ve done nothing wrong just isn’t nice. Period. Part of social media and social networking is being sociable. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I tried that for months. It didn’t slow the flow of spam one bit.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Paisano, I don’t see what Michael did as not being nice. He’s still able to be social for those following with him, they just have to mention him.

      I’m sure it also cleared out his Tweet stream quite a bit. Following that many people has got to be quite daunting.

  • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

    It is so weird to see your stats as following only 161 people. I’m so used to seeing six figures there!

    Thanks for taking us through all of this. I doubt I’ll ever need to do it, but it’s good to know how just in case.

  • http://idoneousurl.tumblr.com/ VerecundAmaranth

    It was Michael’s recent Twitter blogs which compelled me to finally sign up for Twitter earlier this September. Even twitted 3 times – whoa! :)

    Vaguely recall original intent of Twitter was not about establishing guru following and such, rather something else, involving interaction among seriously interested parties – a personalized feedback of sorts. But “‘OMG is that you? I so hate that cat with the muffins in its ear and your so proletarian Darth Vader attitude regarding Pizza The Hut premise….”  – these were not quite intended, yet what it devolved into.

    Yes, one could have done “this” or subscribed to “that” to avoid drastic “Michael-like” measures later. Did you know among the thousands of lines of code there is actually a sub-call involving dual-boot option under WinOS to also boot (Intel) MacOS? Who knew. 60+ million lines of code involving Space Shuttle computers, but I digress. Point being, too much info, in hindsight we ought have been aware of “TwitterFAQ#54678421″ or “NASA shuttle that” or “WinOS line #6478965324576 subroutine #555439″. So we stumbled. We learned. Any room for understanding?

    If I discovered Michael un-Twittered me, especially after reading his rationale, regardless, since I value his inspirational blogs, I would continue to follow him, not for “popularity sake”, but because I value his perspective. Not Twitter-ratio which affects individual’s life, rather the message. Micheal, take heart, go on, we need the likes of you!!!!!!! The world needs.

    Michael, I realize I’m a lightweight confusing oxymoron whose opinions are marginal at best, but, be yourself. Chaff is blown away by the wind, substance endures (to paraphrase and mangle a Biblical passage). Your followers (hint – me included) value the substance you present, period. Don’t needlessly apologize to those who won’t accept your explanation, instead go on, am looking forward to your next view.

    Also, am figuring out this Twitter thing :) Regards, Pat :)

  • http://www.love4israel.blogspot.com Matthew Redmond

    Now how do you get 100,000 Followers 

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great strategy.  I’m nowhere near where you were.  This isn’t a need I’m facing right now.  However, I’m taking some of your ideas, and making them proactive in nature, so one day I don’t have to face this as well.  Thanks! 

  • Anonymous

    Thats nice. Hopefully when my twitter gets to that level of annoyance i will keep your article handy. regards, Mathew BR

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  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Michael, I don’t tweet yet but I’m learning from both your mistakes and your counsel. Thanks for going public with your process.–Tom

  • http://SavingsLifestyle.com Andrea Deckard

    I don’t blame you for doing this. I have lots of followers on twitter and I manually follow everyone. It’s not selective and cliquish, it’s merely who wants to engage in a conversation. If we chat, I’ll follow you. But if you just follow me to follow, that’s not a guarantee for a follow back. When there is too much noise in my stream or even my inbox, it takes away from the meaningful conversations that can happen.

    I also have a separate online facebook “like” page for myself to connect with others (different than my blog’s fan page). I can connect with others in a more personal way on there while also protecting some of my privacy and my family and friends’ privacy as well. As I went through the unfriending process, I got a few friend requests back immediately. I also went through the hundreds of pending friend requests and replied that they could “like” that page since I could no longer accept requests on my personal page.

    I think social media is great. There is also a line where we should be allowed to be “unsocial” on social media if we want to be without fear of being judged or our comments taken out of context. That is what my personal facebook and twitter handles are for me. It’s just like a PR person tweeting with the disclaimer that “these tweets are my own and not endorsed by XYZ brand.” Being a personal brand it’s hard to differentiate the two but we should be allowed to have some way to be vocal online with people we’re close with without fear that someone will take a screenshot of our private wall update and feel it’s ok for *them* to share with everyone.

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    Michael, I was glad to see that you warned everyone before unfollowing.  Not only did it show sensitivity to your followers, but it also created an opportunity for the rest of us to actively follow your progress on this experiment, to see how it turned out for you.  We got to watch the process from the planning stage.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Mike! I feel you have done the right thing. You can follow the close circle of people whom you know personally and professionally. (ie, family, close friends and colleagues). And, may be some personalities whom you admire or respect the most. I think that will do.

  • Lori Sizemore

    Let me ask a question: doesn’t Twitter limit follower: followed by ratios to prevent this from happening naturally?

    I don’t mind if someone doesn’t follow me–I follow people because I’m interested in them. I never auto- follow; that way lies spam. I use lists to clump people together into the type of info they offer, then stream my lists on Hootsuite. But, after all that, my ratio is about even.

    I thought Twitter had ceilings to prevent this.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      No, it doesn’t. It only has a ceiling on how many you can follow daily.

      • Lori Sizemore

        I see.  Thanks so much for answering my question.

  • http://snappycasual.tumblr.com kelsey williams

    I think this is great. Thanks for outlining the procedure and for being honest. I follow 1,281 people on Twitter and have considered doing the same thing. Basically, I miss out on many conversations with those I really care about following because I can’t keep up with my feed and see through the clutter!

  • http://sharingmatters.com Paul Montwill

    Great move! You can only follow 20-30 people and have real value from it.

  • Amanda

    I’ve had the opportunity to start some social media marketing training for the loan officers I work with. I thought it was interesting that everything I’ve seen has said to make sure you follow everyone, but your strategy for unfollowing is working. To only lose 3% of your following seems to be worth it. Do you think it would be effective for loan officers/real estate agents who use social media for business leads to follow this strategy?

    P.S. I want not offended that you unfollowed us. :) the 8 spam DM’s I have received from people irritated me enough

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think so. You might explain what you are doing somewhere.

      • Amanda

        Great, I’ll bring it up to them. Thanks again for the solid, consistent info.

  • http://www.adonislenzy.com Adonis Lenzy

    Michael,
    I am about to unfollow as well.  I’ve followed your steps.  I currently follow 1700 people.  As a Pastor should I send out a tweet in advance to explain my actions or just go ahead and unfollow and then refollow the ones on my list?  Any advice will be appreciated.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think as a courtesy it is good to let people know what you are going to do and why.

      • http://www.adonislenzy.com Adonis Lenzy

        Thanks sir.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Adonis, how are you choosing who will stay and who will go?

      As a youth leader, I struggle with cutting “friends” on Facebook of those we’ve ministered to. Any suggestions on how or if that should be done?

  • Dingheng0932

    Well-written article! Carefully read it again, well worth reading! I will continue to pay attention!
    http://www.christianlouboutin-cheapest.org/

  • http://twitter.com/JessSchildman Jessica Schildman

    Thanks for the explanation.  I don’t think it was owed, but that’s what made your explanation more appreciated.  Some are easily offended, but you shouldn’t have to follow everyone who follows you.  I certainly don’t.

    Still loving your leadership stuff. 

  • Joe Lalonde

    Michael, glad to see it went fairly smooth for you. It’s actually quite surprising there wasn’t more negative feedback than there was.

    As for is this something I need to consider doing, I don’t think I do. I have not been in the habit of autofollowing others and don’t see myself doing that in the near future.

  • Doriano Carta

    Still doesn’t make sense. There are many people who follow far more people and they don’t experience any of these issues because they know how to create filters with twitter lists that displays tweets from those you want to keep up to date with. So you could follow 1 million folks but still only have a dozen people in a column called favorites. No spam, no avalanche of data… no excuses for snubbing good people. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that is what I did. But it doesn’t solve the DM spam issue. If you have a column for direct messages, it will be flooded with spam. Then you start missing non-spam messages from friends and family. They are lost in the noise.

  • http://twitter.com/Barb_G Barbara Gibson

    Hi Michael, I can understand why you took this drastic step, because of the big numbers you are dealing with. But before it starts a trend, let me suggest that a much better approach for most other people who are experiencing similar problems with DM spam is to simply unfollow those who abuse DM.  My policy is to immediately unfollow anyone who sends me an auto-message of any kind (including the “thanks for following” ones). Doing this on a daily basis takes only a few seconds, and now, even though I’m still following 14000+ people, my DM box is pretty clean.  Like many of the early Twitter users, I auto-followed back too many people early on, and admittedly, in spite of trying to clean it up manually, I’m still following too many bad accounts. But I wouldn’t want to throw away thousands of good ones just to clean up the bad. I value the two-way relationship, and I tend to be highly suspicious of celebrity-style Twitter accounts, where the follow/follower counts are astronomically different.  I’m not on Twitter to be broadcasted to, I’m there for conversations.  But again, I’m not criticising your decision. There’s no right or wrong here, just what works for you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Barbara, the only thing I would add is that you don’t have to be following someone to have a conversation. I do it numerous times daily. It just involves using Twitter replies. I think it is every more social, because it allows others to participate. Thanks.

    • http://krissiwyss.wordpress.com Krissi

      Thank you! That makes so much sense. I also am not too interested in the celeb-style twitterer…they are not interested in others, but want everyone to hear about their day, etc. It’s not what Twitter is about, thankfully. There are a few people I really want to hear from-whether they care about hearing from me or not. It’s definitely not a celebrity :)

  • http://fitnessexpose.com Michael Mahony

    Michael, any idea how I can prune the list of those I follow by certain criteria? For instance, those who haven’t tweeted in X amount of time?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      There are definitely tools that will do this, but I can’t recall the names. Try Googling what you want.

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  • Christine Smith

    What an interesting idea, encouraging Christian believers to
    disconnect so they can raise their Klout scores and have a more convenient
    in-box! I’m sure this is based on scripture, as I asked you to pray over this
    before you lead the flock. A better option would have been to create a personal
    twitter account for your loved ones instead of encouraging Christians to
    disconnect socially. This week two of my followers sent me DM’s saying they
    were walking away from God. One was from the Philippines. I prayed with them,
    sent messages back and forth, and both thanked me for helping lift their hearts
    back to the Lord. If I mass unfollowed them because they were new on Twitter
    and accidently sent DM spam links, I would not have been in a position to
    minister to their hearts. If I mass unfollowed them because they did not engage
    or add value to my day, God would have not used me to serve Him.  It’s tempting to have a high Klout score, mass
    following counts, and pats on the back for dumping thousands of Christians God
    sent to you for leadership. It’s tempting to see your way as the only correct
    way and look for convenience rather than how you can best serve God. It’s
    tempting for people to dump their crowds and disconnect from believers…Satan
    makes lies look like truth.

    “To love him with all your heart, with all your
    understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself
    is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33 NIV

    Having a high Klout score and dumping Christians who follow
    your leadership  is not loving your
    neighbor; its loving yourself.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I still interact with everyone—via my comments here, via Twitter replies, and on Facebook—just not via direct messages. Also, no one can really follow more than a few hundred.
      I also just realized you are the same one I quoted in the post, who asked “What if Jesus ‘unfollowed’ all of us and then told us to earn our way back into his inner circle!” As I mentioned to you on Twitter, I think that kind of response trivializes our relationship with God and raises Twitter to a level that is inappropriate.

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  • grillgod

    I’m a big Hootsuite user and I am social with those I don’t follow and who don’t follow me back.  Lists are definitely the key to Twitter sanity.

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  • Dj CellBlock

    Hey Michael, i have a question regarding this “technique”. Is there any risk of getting suspended by using it? I’m following around 90k and am followed by 300k+… Were you verified before doing this or after? You might not have got suspended cause you’re verified. I don’t know if to use it or not, but at the same time i feel like my inbox is unreadable and full of spam messages… Let me know. Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I can’t really answer that accurately, because I did this several years ago. I don’t what their policies are. I think I did this before I was verified. I don’t think they had verification when I did this. You might start with their terms of service and see if that prohibits mass unfollowing. Thanks.

      • Dj CellBlock

        Thanks!

  • http://powerup.tv/ Carey Martell

    I’ve been researching how to do a mass unfollow, and this post was very helpful for me. Thank you.