Twitter is in trouble, Twitter stock is crashing, the platform is struggling to grow, zero users in the last quarter…blah blah blah…we all know the problems Twitter faces at the moment I’m getting bored talking about them.
I wanted to find some joy in using the platform again, forget about the business strategy and the vanity metrics, I wanted to get the joy back of scrolling through my feed again.
You may (or may not) notice that the “By @TheMarkDalton” doesn’t direct to my Twitter page anymore, it directs you to my Instagram. A deliberate switch, I’m directing you to the social media account that I want you to see first.
Where it kind of went wrong
I pin most of the blame of me falling out with my Twitter feed on Social Quant. I hold my hands up and take some of the blame too, some time ago I wanted to review Social Quant and took advantage of their 14 day trial.
For anyone unaware, Social Quant takes control of your Twitter profile basically and promises to grow your Twitter account with genuine followers. I won’t deny that they do what they say, your account does indeed grow but the problem is how they do it.
At the core you are paying for a glorified follow for follow system, you pick your keywords and Social Quant will source accounts you may be interested in and follow them, if they don’t follow you back within a certain window of time then Social Quant will unfollow. They encourage you not to interfere and let the robot do what it needs to do, the problem is that your feed descends into absolute chaos and you end up seeing all kinds of junk you have no interest in.
Now if you want to boost your ego online and love vanity metrics that mean shit all then Social Quant could be right up your street, 14 days of testing and my feed was impossible to follow anymore. In fact it kept running after 14 days and I had to email the Social Quant team and ask them to stop the trial which should have ended 2 days earlier.
Like I say, part of the blame also falls with me, I wanted to review Social Quant but I was dumb enough to run the trial on my personal account. I should have set it up and run it on a dummy account instead. That is where I got it wrong.
Fixing the problems caused
So at the time the Social Quant trial ended I had somewhere in the region of 5,500 followers – 6,000 followers but I was following around 5,000 so the people I really wanted to see content from on Twitter I just wasn’t seeing.
Tweets I could have been interested in soon got buried under the mass of never ending garbage. I can understand why people do this whole follow for follow thing on social media but I just can’t do it. I follow people I am interested in and thats it, if they want to follow me then awesome and if they don’t want to follow or they unfollow then I don’t really care!
So I set about fixing the problems and the only way to fix the problem I had with Twitter was to go through my entire following list and get rid of all the junk. It literally takes weeks to do this for two main reasons.
- Mass following and unfollowing over short periods of time is a breach of Twitter’s ToS for which you can be temporarily or permanently banned. Farming for followers is not actually permitted on the platform, it is just that Twitter as well as other social platforms are just somewhat lax in their approach to it. Therefore you can only unfollow a certain number of accounts per day and need to space out the time so you are not unfollowing massive numbers over the course of a few hours or a few days. If you do that you run the risk of being banned temporarily or even permanently.
- It is tiring going through all those accounts so I would recommend just taking your time and doing it gradually over the course of a number of weeks. Like five minutes each day to clear out the mess.
This won’t be a problem that all of us face, it depends on how you approach Twitter. Some people have always kept the number of people they are following low. If this is something you are going to try and do though, audit hard.
Not only did I decide to clear out the junk, I also decided to go in and stop following accounts I just don’t interact with anymore. This includes people who I worked with in the past on different projects and friends I made in communities years and years ago.
If I don’t interact with them, if I don’t share my content and they don’t share mine then I may as well stop following them right? We are not providing each other any value so it makes sense. Also accounts that just retweet from a source I am following, I decided to unfollow them too. So if I follow a business on Twitter and I also follow people working for that business. If 95% of what they share is retweets from that business it means I end up seeing duplicate tweets of the same thing on my feed so I may as well just follow the main account and not the others.
I basically wanted to hit it hard and to normalise my feed again so that I can actually spend time scrolling through it and enjoying the content that appears there.
Stemming from ‘its okay to unfollow and be unfollowed
Remember that blog post I published not so long ago about how people feel guilty about unfollowing and unfriending on social media and why that feeling is just not necessary?
I don’t care how many people follow me on social media, that is not how I or other people will gauge your success online or indeed in life. I just want to enjoy social media for what it is. At one point a number of years ago I did care about that kind of stuff when it was a big race to get to the top.
Now there is an interesting shift happening. Micro-influencers are starting to rise in popularity among companies. Why? Because companies believe that they have a tighter and smaller community built around them that will listen to them. Now they are starting to tap into micro-influencers and should the trend continue then it really won’t matter how big or small your account is.
I have taken blogging jobs, photography jobs freelance over the last 8 months and none of that business was obtained because of the number of people who followed me on social media. It was because the content I put out on social media is of a high standard and it caught the attention of the people who mattered to getting that business.
Do what makes you happy!
I’m telling you how I found joy back in using Twitter again, I actually like opening the app now and scrolling through my feed, I am starting to enjoy tweeting again because I am seeing what I want to see.
Different people want different things, maybe you will decide to audit your following list and it could be a result you like at the end. Or maybe you really like having 50k followers even if it means you have to follow 48k. If thats the case then rock on with it!
Use the platform in the way that you enjoy using it, the past few days I have actually liked using Twitter again. The platforms problems are exactly that – their problems. Twitter has to figure out how to sort themselves out but in the meantime I’m just going to continue enjoying where I am setup with it now, should they suddenly collapse at some point in the road and become the next MySpace then we all just move on to whatever is next.
Of course if you do decide to start unfollowing people on Twitter you need to be aware that your follower numbers will decline too so if that is important to you (even though it means shit in the grand scheme of things) you just need to be aware. Typically platforms such as Social Quant will pull in people also using Social Quant so when you unfollow them they will automatically unfollow you after a day or two. Just something to take note of.
There you have it, nothing glamorous, nothing fancy. Really basic solution which has improved my experience so much.
**I just want to add here at the end, it sounds like I am picking on Social Quant by mentioning them so much. It is simply the platform I ended up trialling. All automation tools on Twitter are pretty much the same in principle and pose the same problems**