Give your Twitter account a haircut

I love Twitter.

Twitter lets me share what I’m thinking and doing at the moment. It’s an invaluable tool for me to listen to others. I connect with clients, friends, and peers from all over the world. Twitter is casual, newsy, inspiring, in-the-moment; it’s a place to connect and engage, to meet new people and hear new ideas, and to share those ideas with others.

I want to do that better. Lately, I’ve felt like my tweet stream was getting a little stale. A little shaggy and in need of a haircut. Unfortunately, since Twitter caps the number of people you can follow at a percentage of the number of followers you have, I can’t just follow more people and let their engaging tweets eclipse the followers who aren’t doing anything. Since I currently can’t expand my plot of Twitter ‘land’, I decided to do some weeding.

Like anything else, your Twitter account needs to be tuned from time to time. For me, in the past, that has meant sorting the people I’m following into lists and actively unfollowing people whose tweets don’t add value to my life. (After all, I wouldn’t want them actually talking to me face-to-face, so why should I give them my Twitter time?). Recently, I used Tweepi.com to help me tune Twitter so I can listen and connect more effectively. Here’s how I used it to give my Twitter account:

The first thing I did was to remove people I’m following who haven’t tweeted in the past 4 months or more. Cold-hearted? Arbitrary? Perhaps, but for me, Twitter isn’t about the number of followers I have or people I’m following… it’s about the value that we can provide to each other. It turns out that 7% of the people I’m following haven’t tweeted in 4 months or more… so I scrapped them. I only want to follow people who have something to say. (Heck, some of them haven’t tweeted in 3 years or more).

The next thing I did was to use Tweepi’s ‘Reciprocate’ feature to find people to follow who are already following me. Some Twitter users choose to auto-follow those who follow them, but that’s not really how I roll: I want to find people who are active Twitter users. Since they are already listening to me AND they are active Twitter users, I’m hoping to engage with them better than I have been. (Side note: Turns out, I wasn’t even following my wife. I fixed that oversight and we won’t tell her about it, okay?)

It’s so easy to get caught up in the Twitter numbers game and to compare how many followers you have to how many someone else has. Now, there is a place for Twitter metric comparison, especially if Twitter is part of your marketing plan. But to get there, you need to engage your followers first and add value to them. And in order to engage your followers, you need to clean up your account with a haircut from time-to-time.

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