3 Tips On Cleaning Up Your Twitter Account

Twitter LogoIf you know everything about Twitter, detest Twitter, or plan to never use it, you can probably skip this post.

For the rest of you: This is one of the most easy-to-implement Techie Tuesday posts I’ve ever done here on More Cowbell. Enjoy!

I just did my yearly Twitter clean-up in Tweepi, which is something I recommend you try. 

Mind you, I don’t advocate doing this very often. It’s time consuming to go through all the people you follow 20 at a time. That’s all you can see at once on the free version of Tweepi, so this will yearly clean-up will take you an hour (or more, depending on how many people you follow).

Why do I recommend you do this yearly?

  • It immerses you in who you followed and why, encouraging you to reach out to some people you might not have talked to for a while.
  • You need to periodically clean out the bots and people who have abandoned Twitter – they’re skewing your numbers (more on that later).
  • Tons of people follow others to get the follow-backs, then they unfollow everyone. This rude behavior leaves the Twitter newbies stuck with really high following numbers with a bunch of people who will never follow them back.
  • If you do a lot of mass following/unfollowing, it can get you thrown into Twitter jail.

Information Twitter follow ratio rules can be found here. I recommend you click that link and read it well. Or, if you need hand-holding, take Marcy Kennedy’s Twitter classes…they’re excellent!

Back to the yearly Twitter Clean-up…

Do I believe in unfollowing everyone who doesn’t follow you?

NO. This is as rude as those narcissists spam-bots who follow just to get the follow-back.

There are people like J.K. Rowling and Harlan Coben, who I follow just because I love their books. I follow some agents and publishers because I need their information. I follow The Bloggess because she makes me laugh. I don’t expect any of them to follow me back.

Which leads me to the next part of this post…

What is my criteria for unfollowing someone?

I just spent more than an hour on this so I’m pretty clear at the moment. Here are the three things that are most likely to make me unfollow someone:

1. They’ve never tweeted.

Ditto for someone who hasn’t used their account in 6+ months. I start giving people the hairy eyeball at about 2-3 months of inactivity but if we’re mutually following each other, I’ll cut them some slack for life craziness.

Did y’all catch that?

2. Someone who ISN’T following me back gets closer scrutiny.

Hey, I’m human just like the next gal. We’re all children/parents/workers/bloggers, etc. Our time is limited, and incredibly valuable, and we want to spend it with people we have a connection with.

If you’ve conversed with me, re-tweeted me, followed me or generally blown some sunshine my direction, I’m going to follow you. I just am. It’s something nice I can do to say thanks.

Note: The only exception to this are the spam-bots who are doing these things to get followers. They’re pretty to easy to spot once you’ve been on social media for a while.

When I do my once-a-year foray into Tweepi to look at who I’m following, if I see you in the “I’m Following” category (rather than “Mutual” which  means we follow each other), I’m going to take a peek at your Twitter profile. Why do you think the process takes me so long?

Because I’m just as busy as everyone else, and have 3-4,000 people to wade through, if we’re following each other, I’m probably just going to look to see if you’re an active user, as I discussed above.

Just by tweeting every week or so, you are spared a closer look by most people during their clean-up. How easy is that??

3. Someone I know I’ve interacted with, who isn’t following me.

If I’ve interacted with someone online, I follow or friend them. Ditto if we’re in a writing chapter, Triberr group, or online chat together.

I know everyone doesn’t engage in this sort of friendly behavior, and I don’t expect everyone to love my stuff. It’s okay if someone doesn’t reach back out to me. If I dig them and they’re an active user of that platform (in this case Twitter), the two of us stay connected.

But what about those evil people who make nice with you and/or follow you, and you KNOW once upon a time the two of you were connected and had a chat?

They’ve earned a closer look in Tweepi by not being on the mutual follow list and Eeeeky! When you look at their Twitter profile, they’ve got 4,255 followers, but they’re following 300 people. That one makes my blood boil.

I call social media party foul!

Why is my time so much less valuable than yours? It’s not like you have four hundred thousand followers, and the huge demands fame adds to one’s life. There is absolutely no reason why your Follower/Following numbers aren’t closer in alignment.

Aaaaaand, I’ve just cleared you off my list.

I’m just one lowly blogger/writer/tech trainer. Y’all don’t have to listen to a single word of this, though I hope you will.

Others have done great posts on Twitter. Kristen Lamb, Marcy Kennedy, Penny Sansevieri and Chuck Wendig are all people who have nifty stuff to say on the subject.

In fact, a few years back, Chuck summed up Twitter as follows:

Nobody can really tell you how to use Twitter. Twitter is a conversation and you can join it as you like. That’s the joy of it, and that’s the hell of it. Sure, I think the things I said here are true, but I can’t make you do differently. However you want to enter the conversation is up to you. My only suggestion is, do it. Have the conversation. Engage. Be social — “social” is the key word of “social media.”

Do you ever “clean up” your social media accounts? Why or why not? What are your own personal rules for following/unfollowing? Do you have a social media game plan/strategy? How did you develop it? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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59 Responses to 3 Tips On Cleaning Up Your Twitter Account

  1. 1. Clean up my act (ERK! Mumble-mumble decades & counting….)
    2. Whip my WIP into sweet submission.
    3. Purchase a frigging clue on how to best utilize Twitter and Facebook (Yes, I know WANA has awesome classes for both. I will take them. When item 2 has been achieved. GOLDEN HEART! HANG ON! I’M COMING!) <===== oooooh! No. That was not an excerpt from one of my sex scenes. In those, the heart is not what needs to hang on. And, it better not be hanging, come to think of if. IYKWIM.
    4. Get regular on Snark E. Pen. [In the non-Maalox sense of that phrase]

    Before following back, I do check the bio. If it’s a writer, I want to make a personal connection and comment. Same with readers and bloggers and fun/quirky people. I rarely follow anyone with a bio touting marketing and self-promotion — those with gazillions of followers and nothing specifically targeted for readers/writers.

    Yes. I intentionally inadvertently used tons of HTML code in this comment, because the notion popped my kettle corn after yesterday’s gaffe the content of the message warranted codes.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m so proud of you, getting your Golden Heart entry ready. 🙂 Go, Gloria, Gooooooooooooooo!

      I’ll look forward to more Snark E. Pen, especially when you realize that you could be doing hilarious little 200 word snippets, or 100 words and a photo, to keep it alive while you write. Blogging IS about regularity, and size doesn’t matter. (IYKWIM)

      p.s. I do adore your coded comments. 🙂


    • zkullis says:

      LMAO re: #3



  2. Laura Drake says:

    SO glad you taught me this! I now have close to the same # of followers as I have followed. That’s been an issue for me in the past, running up against Twitter’s % limit.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      YAY! So glad it worked. It makes a huge difference in my “relax” level on Twitter. Just to know that I’m free to do what I want, without worrying about the numbers.


  3. Thanks for this, Jenny. I’ll give it a try. If all else fails, it’s good to know Marcy’s classes are out there for techno-dorks like moi!


  4. Love this post and so timely. I went through my Twitter account on my phone a couple months ago and looked at my list quickly for a clean up but I really need to spend some time on it.

    I do think annual clean up is necessary and healthy!!!

    I just went through my closet to do my Fall switch over (there was FROST this morning…WTF????) and a tote full of summer clothes from 2010 (WTF am I saving them for???) and purged a ton of stuff. No need to hang onto outdated or ill fitting clothes in a tote hiding in hubby’s office that I keep “just in case I want to wear it someday…” Good lord! It felt amazing to purge that stuff and send it all to the Salvation Army where others may find better use for it.

    I think social media clean up is the same thing. It gives the opportunity to evaluate and to ensure that our connections are ones that are purposeful or have meaning to us in some way…so important! It’s liberating!

    Now I am off to see if I made the Jenny Twitter cut or not…I haven’t been as active on Twitter (all social media really) in the last 6 months so…I’ve turned into a lurker…LOL!! Reading people’s blog posts, tweets and Facebook stuff but not commenting a lot…so hoping y’all still count me in the friend list…LOL!!

    I am a lurker…this is what it’s come to?!?! LOL!


  5. I have a different problem with Twitter. I have somehow managed to accumulate nearly 600 Twitter followers (almost entirely authors and readers) but as I have a full-time job, I have almost no time to read what they’re all posting. My blog is set to publicize on Twitter and Facebook, so I’m spreading my word to them, but I feel bad because I’m not reciprocating. During the week I am limited to about 30 minutes on-line so that by the time the weekend arrives, most of the Tweets have sunk into static mush.
    Any thoughts?


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Andrew, I do have thoughts on this. If I depended on the computer as my main source of Twittering, I’d have this same issue. I do most of my Twitter catch-up and respond via text. When you have a day job, it’s WAY easier to keep up that way.

      I did a post on the how-to a while back…see if it helps you at all:


      • Jenny – many thanks for the tips. I have Twitter as a favourite on my phone. Just not sure if I’m ready for 600 users’ messages scrolling across it. Might beta-try it for a few days. 😀


        • Jenny Hansen says:

          The 40404 feature will only text you people who have mentioned you.

          If you want to follow someone you meet (we’ll use me for an example), you just text “Follow @JennyHansenCA”. If you decide I tweet too much for your text feature, you’d text “Off @JennyHansenCA.”

          You would still be following me, but I wouldn’t come through on your text unless I mentioned you in some way, like an RT.

          Does that make sense, Andrew?


  6. S. J. Maylee says:

    Great post, Jenny. I try and do spot cleaning of my account, but a yearly overhaul sounds like a great idea. My process is very similar to yours. I look at profiles and their recent activity or not so recent activity before I unfollow. I do take note of who follows me everyday and as long as they’re not a bot I pretty much always follow. It’s amazing the number of authors that have become bots. They only tweet about their book. As shy as I am, I don’t think I could ever be that quiet on twitter.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I don’t understand not using Twitter to be social, but I’m an extrovert. There are many authors that only got on Twitter because someone told them to and they never embraced the idea of conversation over there (which is the most fun part of it all). So yes, they became quite “bot-ish.”

      For most of us, our eyes pass over all the “Buy my books!” tweets, and if you use TweetDeck or lists, it gets even easier to ignore the spam. I don’t worry so much about what others are up to, as long as I get a little regular conversation in. I need my Twitter fix! 🙂


  7. I am subscribed to some sort of twitter clean up thingy…but haven’t used it so long I can’t remember the URL! BAD Amy… With the deadline for my WIP looming, I’ve sorta kinda ignored twitter a bit and haven’t a clue how many followers or follow-eees that I have.


  8. aerobabe619 says:

    Good Morning Jenny, I have been trying to put my followers in lists,so i can recall who is who. I have my Musician’s List,Writer’s,Fellow Aerosmith fans,My friends i met in TM group,(transverse Myelitis),Bloggers..etc this leaves me with a handful of idk,who they are and a handful of not real or get more follower people. Then every now and then i check a list,see if we are still following each other,or if I’m a fan of theirs .On and on. This has helped me a little. I don’t know what i will do if i ever reach a 1,000 people..hire help?? lol. Thank you for your wonderful post


  9. Great tips, Jenny! I occasionally attempt to clean my social media accounts, though Twitter seems the most challenging – not as challenging as, say, my clothes closet, but tough. 😉


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, August! And I’m still in awe that Natalie just cleaned out her closets. I’m with you on that one.

      Tweepi (and other tools like it) made a huge difference in how I successful I was on the Twitter clean-up. I really like getting in there about once a year.


  10. Thanks for this post, Jenny. I was wondering how to get in there and clean up my account. I haven’t been active on Twitter lately or my blog for that matter. At least now I can get in and work on Twitter and maybe get back in action. Still on the fence about the blog though.



  11. Carrie says:

    I’m been pretty MIA on Twitter lately, like the last year :p I know I could use a clean up!

    Thanks for the tips 🙂


  12. Bill Parker says:

    *checks Twitter* whew, still following me. *clicks ‘like’*


  13. Good advice. I got nudged into cleaning up my account when I couldn’t follow anyone. Now I keep close track, well, I try to. LOL


  14. John Holton says:

    Funny you should mention about cleaning up my Twitter. I hit their 2K limit and, when I went to JustUnfollow, discovered that over half of them aren’t doing me the favor of following me. I don’t expect some of them to return the favor (e.g. the National Weather Service, local newspeople, blogs on technical topics, The Onion, etc.), but there are some that are clogging up my timeline that never followed me back. Screw ’em.

    I also measure signal-to-noise ratio: If I discover that someone is tweeting a hundred times a day telling me to read their book, follow them on Facebook, etc. they get purged. And I’m starting to delete those users who tweet eighty kabillion times a day, usually while carrying on shouting matches. I don’t care if they are following me. I picked that up from Kristen Lamb. I recognize that I’m not all that good at this Twitter thingy (my tweets tend to point at my blog entries, and I retweet things that I like a lot); at the same time, there are people that I’d like to engage in conversations (e.g. you), but I can’t find them because of the noise.

    Thanks for another good article.


  15. filbio says:

    This is a terrific post Jenny. I agree a lot with what you said here. There is a Twitter etiquette that should be followed. I use “Just Unfollow” to monitor Twitter and who is following or unfollowing. As you know I use Twitter a lot to promote my blog posts and also promote other blogs that I follow. It’s a great way to communicate and get the word out. I’ll follow those that follow me, and blow some sunshine my way as you said, but will delete if there is no reciprocation ever.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Phil! And you are Supreme Twitter AwesomeSauce so I totally value your opinion on this. I can’t imagine having no interaction with people in your stream/tribes/blogosphere. It seems to negate the entire purpose, doesn’t it?


  16. Twitter. Hmm. You know it took me a couple of years to get comfy with Facebook? And yet, I am a sociable person. I love being with people. I just haven’t had the energy to devote much time on Twitter, thus no clean up project is needed at this time. But hey, like Natalie, I cleaned out my closet and boy does it ever feel great! Gave five bags of clothes to Good Will. Now someone else can dance around in them. Shoes and all. And it gave hubby an excuse to take me shopping for new clothes. Clothes that I desperately needed after over a decade of limited shopping. Very limited shopping. Yeah, I think I got my money’s worth out of my old suckers. But after getting back on my feet with blogging, Twitter is next. Watch out! 🙂


  17. amyskennedy says:

    Yeek! I fell off of twitter, and the last time I went on it was ALL “buy this!” There was no conversation. Maybe that’s the most important reason to do a clean up. I used to have fun on twitter…awwww. Guess, I should give it another go.


  18. Thanks! Just cleaned up my Twitter.


  19. Great tips, Jenny 🙂 If people want a good Twiter roll model, they should be watching you 🙂


  20. zkullis says:

    Jenny! Oh how I’ve missed the cowbell.
    This was a great post! I need to do a better job with my Twitter. About once a month I pull up Tweepdash and unfollow people that don’t follow me. It sounds like Tweepi is something to check out.


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  23. Oh, Jenny, it’s not the Undie Chronicles, but so useful! I’ve been in Twitter jail for a long time now. I hop on and follow about six people and then it tells me “No More!”. Cleaning up is getting tougher too as I want to follow EVERYONE. Let’s face it, I’m a twitter whore. But I am trying to winnow out the protein drink guys and the financial advisers who made it onto my list when I was a happy Twitter newbie and followed anyone who would follow me. See, I’m trying to reform. 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m a Twitter slut-in-training, Jessica. I follow MOST people, but not all. And now you know my reasons. 🙂 Once you do a good strong clean-up, you’ll feel better and go to Twitter jail NEVER.


  24. One of the things I look at is, in the case of writers, does he/she only send out blasts about his/her book? If so, they are not really engaging with anyone and only want to increase their number of followers. I do periodically go through my list of followers for inactives and unfollow those. I also go searching for tweeps who may interested in my blog niche, which would mean they might ultimately be interested in what books I’ll publish down the road. I market to that audience more than to fellow writers.
    Great tips, Jenny. I’ll have to add some of your advice to my periodic ‘look-see’ with Twitter.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I have to agree with you on the “only tweeting about my book” tweep. If i don’t see some conversation on their feed, I DON’T follow.

      I’ve never thought of searching for tweeps in my blog niche. Interesting idea.


  25. Linda Adams says:

    TwitBlock cleans up the spammers pretty fast, and Who Doesn’t Follow You identifies people who have dropped off. That’ll at least cut the time. I’ve started checking to see what the last handful of tweets are before I follow. There are far too many writers who are just sending out a clutter of links to be present, and I’m tired of being spammed as a form of “promotion.”


  26. I’m still a Twitter newbie, so I have fewer people to maintain. However, I don’t follow-back everyone that follows me: When I get a notification that someone followed me, I go and check them out, or sometimes I do it at the end of the day when I get my Unfollow.me email that lists my new followers. Follow-back people that don’t engage remove me the next day. That means less yearly maintenance, albeit less followers.

    I’m ok with that, though. I haven’t gotten into lists or hootsuite yet, so my main feed is all I look at. I want that to be as interesting and informative as possible.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Samantha, you are a smart, smart, smart Twitter newbie! It will serve you well, I promise you. Now I have to go find you over there, and make sure I’m following you. I LOVE hanging with the smart peeps on Twitter. 🙂


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