‘Cause I may have.

I ran across this article yesterday and it was so timely. I’d just that morning unfollowed a lot, and I mean a lot, of people on Twitter. Not because I’m a bitch (well, not only because I’m a bitch,) but because I was getting lost in that social media site to the point that it was no longer “social.”

That article, Content is not KING. The social interaction should be the real focus is actually written for businesses. So how about us authors? We are the business. If the advice is for a business to severely tone down advertising itself on a social network in favor of engaging their followers, shouldn’t authors, people, be doing the same thing?

I think so. But even using the Twitter management programs like Tweetdeck, my stupid stream was moving so fast I had no idea who was saying what, no chance to respond. (Lots of times I’d go to hit “reply” only to find that I was replying to a different tweet because the one I wanted had moved out from under my cursor before I could click.)

So I unfollowed quite a lot of people. My criteria? Did I recognize their avatar and/or username. See, the point of social media is to be, well, social. The people I’ve interacted with, whose tweets I’ve retweeted, who’ve retweeted my tweets, whose tweets have made me laugh, or go “wow.” That’s the social aspect of it.

I paid no attention to the number of people who were following them, or whether or not they were following me. In fact, I removed those columns from the view on the utility I was using. The one and only criteria was whether or not I “knew” them. Either as someone I admired, enjoyed following, or as someone who had engaged with me.

Looking back over the data on those who are left, it’s an interesting mix. People with 20 followers and people with 20,000 (or, in a few cases, quite a bit more.) People who are following me and people who aren’t. People who were seriously top-heavy with the number of followers to the number following, or the other way around.

With a smaller number of people feeding into my stream, I can participate! I can make sure I’m following the ones I want to be following. I always check now if I chat with or retweet someone, to make sure I’m following them. Or if they’re participating in 5MinuteFiction. I’m checking #amwriting and #pubwrite for people I want to follow. I want to follow people I’m going to enjoy following, who I’m going to be “social” with.

I know the advice. Lots of places will tell you to follow back out of courtesy. Lots of other places will tell you to send those “thanks for following” DMs or commit the sort of #ff and #ww spam that drives me batty. But when I faithfully followed everyone, or even most of the people who followed me, I simply could not keep up with thousands of people feeding into my stream. The posts moved so fast I couldn’t read them. And half or more were just “buy my book!” or the like.

So am I doing it “wrong” by unfollowing the people I didn’t find value in following? Maybe. But I’m sure enjoying Twitter a heck of a lot more.

P.S. I’ve lost a lot of followers myself as a result of unfollowing. I expected that and I’m guessing it’s no real loss to me, since we weren’t interacting anyway. But I do hate that the authors I try to help promote will have that much smaller an audience I can help them reach. Well, them’s the breaks.

I’ve also gotten a few “why did you unfollow me?” @ replies since I did the purge. As this is the first interaction we’ve ever had, I’d think the reason would be self-evident. In any case, I can’t explain what a bad taste that leaves in my mouth.