Should I commit social media suicide?

Having almost 15,000 Twitter followers is great sometimes. I get an enormous amount of exposure every time I write a blog post and so does anyone I retweet and that has come mostly from growing my Twitter contacts.

Growth?

I started collecting Twitter followers en-masse a couple of years ago as an experiment to try to prove that having lots of followers was meaningless and had no value. It didn’t take me long to realise that I was wrong. Or was I? Maybe it wasn’t the number that was important after all. Perhaps it was the growth.

These days I gain followers at a rate of about 20 per day, this obviously fluctuates in line with how active I am on Twitter. A lot of it is bot traffic which I do my best to cull from time to time but not unlike Pokemon, it’s hard to catch ’em all. I also auto follow back because people like to be followed back when they follow someone… unfortunately, so do bots.

The question I’m asking myself is: Is the value of this large follower base proportional to the effort I put into it’s continual growth? At the moment, I don’t believe it is. This brings me on to my next experiment…

The new experiment

What I plan to do is set up a new Twitter account and start again. I will follow everyone that I already interact with regularly and hopefully they will follow me back.

I will not auto follow back on the new account. I will be much more selfish and will only follow those that interact with me or those accounts that I find particularly interesting or care about for some other reason.

I will do some username shuffling so that my new account has my old username. This way I won’t kill my “personal brand” in the process.

What am I trying to find out?

As with all good experiments, this is not real science. I’m not going to end up with some amazing piece of objective analysis. Let me try explaining it:

I plan to find out whether the value I get from Twitter is from what I consider to be my “real” contacts or from the vast masses of near anonymous hangers on.

When I’ve built the account up to “normal” status, if I tweet a blog post and it gets less than 100 hits within a couple of minutes of posting I will have some idea.

Back to the original question

Should I do it or shouldn’t I?

I’m still undecided. There is a possiblilty that I might end up losing “real” contacts or even lose some of the influence that I’ve built up. I may be completely wrong about the whole thing. It has been known to happen.

I’d be interested to hear your views on the matter before I take the plunge and kiss my Klout score goodbye.

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Addendum

I went and did it! Read the next three blog posts in this series:

Related blog posts

26 thoughts on “Should I commit social media suicide?

  1. NO I don’t think you should – I think you should just unfollow all the bots and people that don’t interact on your existing account. This I think would be much easier than going through 15k pll and decide who to follow.

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  2. I’m pulling for you to do it just because I have thought of this before too and it would be interesting to see what happens. I’ll be watching and waiting.

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  3. oooh I find this so interesting! I think there is three different groups of how people deal with followers on twitter. some people just follow everyone back who follows and more and more people follow. in the end you get to thousands, some people are on high numbers, like you. This only works if you are vaguely interesting and don’t tweet rubbish constantly to your feed. Also its harder to get know your followers better, so some may unfollow you. group two are people who either have a private twitter and add who they want or have a public one and don’t follow everyone back. They are selective who they follow back. If they are very entertaining/ funny/ intelligent / hot pic of them with their tweets then you can get things like they follow 70 and have 2000 following them. But some people will feel annoyed that they don’t get followed back. The third group don’t care about their followers. they may or may not follow back but will only have a couple of hundred followers ever.I never had any plans for my twitter from the start. I followed most people back who followed me and I have now have a couple of thousand following which I still can’t believe! But twitter has changed. It was a friendly community where people replied to each other and it went pretty good. In the last year I have noticed its got very cliquey and people just ignore followers. people just talk in small groups of people they know closer and ignore the others! I have to say people have quit because of this. its harder to get replies! there have been times when I have nearly quit recently. but I think just don’t take it too seriously!I know some really awesome people personally from it now, but it is really hard to keep up with everyone. Also for me I don’t meet that many interesting new people anymore. especially in the gay twitters world, it has become really cliquey! Many many people I know are unfollowing loads or starting a new secret account like you say! and you know I am thinking about it too! what’s the point in having thousands who never reply or care!In the end moral of the story is having thousands who can read your tweet does not make you more interesting or better. just thousands who ignore what you write mostly :)Its up to you to go for it, I know lots of people who have done that! just don’t lose touch with any twitterers you like from it 🙂

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  4. Like Michelle said it’s probably easier to just remove the people who don’t add any value for you. I did it a while back and started to enjoy twitter again 🙂

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  5. Some great comments here! Thank you guys. Michelle, I could do that but there are a couple of reasons as to why that is impractical:1) It would take a very very long time. 2) If I unfollow lots of people in one go I might end up getting screwed by Twitter’s spammy account detection and end up with nothing. 3) I might accidentally unfollow some interesting people by mistake!Chris, I’m actually almost buzzing at the thought of doing it. For someone who makes his living in social media this is both scary and exciting!Daniel, I think you have absolutely the right idea with regards to using Twitter. Use it how you want to use it! That’s why I follow you! I think you’re interesting and fun enough without the added layers of bullshit that most Twitterers are covered by.John, glad you’re enjoying it. If you’re enjoying it and you find it adds value for you and those that follow you, in my opinion, you’ve got it spot on!I’m almost convinced that I should…

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  6. This is very interesting and yes I am on the edge of my seat, so I KNOW you are going to do it, its the excitement and the interest you are going to get. 😛 BUT I think its going to take longer your way – starting up and adding people that you want. And then looking for new people, I’ve seen others do various tests like this – and it gets boring after a while. We all know – If you want worthwhile followers, it takes time, time to find them, time to converse with them, time to realise they aren’t just following because you will RT for them, stuff like that lol. Don’t just follow back anyone check them out! I have a lot of really great people on my twitter that really care, are interesting, and I like them 🙂

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  7. As someone who still consider myself new to twitter having only had an account for less than a year. I’ve come in fresh, with little or no infulance over others on twitter and no followes either. I have around 150-160 followers now andat one time I felt it important how meany I had. I know now thats not true. of the 150 followers I have only a few interact with me, follow my blog posts etc. For me its about 10%.Having a large number of people you can RT to or get to read your blogs seams good but I guess that few do.What I think you will find is that you ill end up with the same hard core group you have now that follow you and interace with you – just less hanger ons and you wil be following less too. I think you will end up in the same place you are now with the same people – just the numbers will be very different.For me – I’d rather have a few really good followers than 100 people that just happen to follow me and never comment.Good luck which every way you go – oh and I’ll be following for more than just finding out what happens.

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  8. Hey LeeThe fact that you have 15,000 followers and only 7 comments on a blogpost relating directly to those followers, should give you an insight in the real value of those followers (conversion). Also, I just checked your last 20 or so followers: some of them are bots, some spamccounts, only a few are genuine (quality).I believe that starting over would be a good way of decluttering your account. Good luck!

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  9. Completely agree with lamazone.Social media suicide is sticking to 15K that do not mean anythig to you. Focus to those who really add value, forget the others. Your twitter account is not meant to please anyone else but you.Klout does not mean anything. I have an account that is completely automated with Rss from the HBR and some random business blogs. It’s got an higher Klout than I do.It has 3K followers on that one and I haven’t touched it in a year!I have recently been away from twitter for six months and had finally the chance to do the blog post I always postponed or a presentation on slideshare that is heading to 15K views and 300s of retweets. This is value, the rest is chit-chat.Go for it mate!

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  10. lamazone, with regards to comments, I find I get more through Twitter than actually posted on the blog its self. In the order of hundreds per blog post actually. Personally, I don’t care where they are or what form they come in. I don’t incentivise blog commenting in any way because I prefer to let people do what they want, rather than guiding their hand.You’re probably right about the last 20 followers. I haven’t done a spam sweep in a few days so there are bound to be a fair number in there. That’s half the problem… It takes a lot of time and effort to keep on top of that!Julius, “Your twitter account is not meant to please anyone else but you.” – often forgotten but so very true! You’re right about Klout score meaning nothing. I’ve said for some time that Twitter’s API is just too flaky for something like that to work and I found out yesterday that Twitter are killing their API whitelist soon anyway, this means Klout and all the others won’t have access to all of the data anymore. They will be TOTALLY useless then!Michelle, stop worrying!

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  11. . @monpjc “For me – I’d rather have a few really good followers than 100 people that just happen to follow me and never comment.” – This is exactly my point!

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  12. I’m rooting for you to do it just because I’m incredibly curious about how it will work out for you! Lots of keen Twitter users are continually wrestling with how best to manage it, and every experiment such as your (proposed) “social media suicide” helps to shed a bit more light on what might work well for others, even as different as we all are.Wait – “Twitter is killing their API whitelist soon”?? Well now, that should be interesting… Apropos of which, the CBC radio program Spark had an interesting piece about foundational technologies, and what can happen when tech tools that were never meant to be foundations for other tools are used in that way: Klout built on Twitter and all the apps built on Facebook as cases in point.

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  13. I’m going to sit on the fence on this one, Lee, and say that whichever choice you make it will be the right one.Having never been one for playing the twitter “numbers game” I’m totally happy with organic twitter growth, it’s manageable and that’s what we need in this industry as accidental (incidental?) information curators – There’s enough data dumped on us as it is, so to be able to have a modicum of control over that flow is important IMHO 🙂

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  14. Great idea, Lee. @solobasssteve did something similar on MySpace a few years ago ISTR – unfriended everyone and only re-friended those who said “Hey, why have you unfriended me?”. He ended up with a much more engaged, interactive following as a result. Be interested to find out if you notice a similar effect. J.

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  15. I’ve done the first bit. The new account is set up and I’ve switched usernames, I’m still @LStacey. I think I’ve followed everyone that I want to follow… although I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve missed a couple.Rebecca, they are indeed killing the whitelist! It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure. Just about in time for them to bring their own analytics package out… Hmm…Paul, it’s impossible to make the wrong decision. :)Jim, ah yes, I remember Steve’s MySpace thing. That was very interesting!

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  16. On first reading what you were about to do I thought you’d posted after a drunken night out , but upon reading further I realized your reasons were well reasoned (as always ! ) . It started me thinking about how I treat my twitter account.I was beginning to feel a little left out only having 51 followers while following 87 but I suppose it reflects how I use twitter , I’m selective who I follow and why. I review my follows every few weeks and get rid of the ones that don’t add value to my Twitter experience so may be I’ve only got myself to blame !! So I’d say ‘Go for it!’ , it’ll be interesting to see what happens

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  17. I’m going to step off my persona here a little bit (actually breaking one of my rules) but I wanted to comment. This Twitter account is a personal project/experiment of my own (both a creativity project and a social-media experiment). One of my rules is never to follow anyone first but to follow back anyone who follows me (who isn’t obviously a bot/spammer). Although even with only a few followers there is still junk in my stream I have found that some really interesting people have found and followed me, many of whom (including you) I realised are doing their own social-media experiments, which I quite enjoy watching.So I’m going to break my “do not follow first” rule and add your new account because I’m really interested to continue watching what you are doing. Look at that – you got me emotionally involved!Cheers

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  18. @YourPresident If I did, it would be because your account looked like a spam account. What’s your Twitter ID? I will look into it for you.

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