If you have had a Twitter handle for a while, and have spent time building a strong following by creating valuable content, re-tweeting others, engaging those who tweet at you and following users with similar interests, you may wonder just how strong your follow number really is. Although Klout is a wonderful tool that gives you an in-depth look at how powerful your audience is (ie how often are they tweeting), you still need to take action based on the level of activity amongst your audience.
Taking action only applies in some cases, not all, but we feel that there is always something that you can be doing to increase the effectiveness of your Twitter channel. The action, in this case, would be to find a more active, powerful audience and follow, or engage with them. However, before you start following lots of users, it may be useful to weed out people you follow who are no longer active on Twitter.
It’s important to unfollow before following because you want to make a follow valuable. When I see a Twitter account with 25,000 followers and 50,000 friends, I can only think that the handle looks like a follower not a leader. If I am followed by someone who looks like that, I am much less inclined to follow them back, because I am sure they are only following me in hopes to get a follow back. A successful Twitter account relies much more on quality rather than quantity. By keeping your followers to friends ratio higher, you are keeping a reputation as a leader handle. Loosely following until you are following a much higher number of users than are following you can ruin the integrity of the handle, devaluing its content. It can also be deceiving to the person managing a Twitter handle, thinking they are tweeting to x amount of users, when only .25x of those users are currently active on Twitter. A vital part of managing a Twitter handle is to constantly keep tabs on your fluid audience and continuously work to replenish inactives and find new, energetic users to engage with.
So what should you do to manage this?
Targeted unfollowing. Contaxio provides a tool where you can search for users you follow who haven’t tweeted in 30 days, followed you back in a certain period of time, tweeted the least, have the least amount of followers, have a low ratio of followers to friends, and lastly, you can sort all users you follow by the last time they have tweeted. It would be very difficult to manually find all of your inactive users on Twitter and unfollow them. We also do not recommend randomly unfollowing users as a way to quickly make room for growth.
We first advise that you start unfollowing via our “You Follow” tab within the Twitter manager tool. This tab displays only users you follow, who aren’t following you back. This lowers the risk of someone unfollowing you after you have unfollowed them (I will explain later why this is not necessarily a bad thing).
We then recommend using our filter to find people who haven’t tweeted in 30 days and unfollow those users. If you find that there aren’t many of those, but you still want to follow more users because your account isn’t growing, then we suggest looking at users who haven’t followed you back in a certain period of time. You can filter by Earliest to Latest friend #, to find those you friended the earliest. You will see a “Since” date, that tells you when you have followed that user. If you are still finding that you don’t have many users who fit that category, you can filter by those who tweet the least, or by those who have the least amount of followers.
It’s important to run through this every few weeks, to maintain your audience.
If you are still finding that there aren’t many people who fit these categories, you can then switch to the “It’s Mutual” tab – this shows you a list of people you are following and are following you back. You can repeat the same filter applications to dig out inactive users and unfollow them. You may worry that unfollowing users who follow you may cause them to reciprocate your action. But, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Like I mentioned before, there are some folks on Twitter who follow tons of people solely to get a follow back. If you are looking to promote meaningful content, these are not the type of users that should comprise your audience. Unfollowing them makes room to follow someone more active, who is likely to fulfill a call-to-action or pass content along to his or her audience. Lots of times we have seen that some handles have been following users who haven’t tweeted since 2009 – usually those are safe to unfollow without worry of them unfollowing you.
But what if there are particular users I have been requested NOT to unfollow, under any circumstances?
This may be a problem if you have multiple people managing a handle. This is why we have placed a tool within Contaxio to hide a user that you don’t want to be unfollowed. To the right of the profile picture, you will see a red, yellow and gray icon. The gray icon hides a user in Contaxio (you can always un-hide that user) to avoid an accidental unfollow (see below).
We will be writing an article explaining our Twitter explorer tool and its application to find new users to follow soon. In the meantime, we suggest cleaning out your Twitter handle to make room for new growth!