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Why I Quit Auto-Following on Twitter: Reflections of a Social Media Addict

March 22nd, 2009

Posted by to Online Marketing

I am a huge fan of scalable automation. When you average 40 new twitter follows and 20 Fb friend requests a day, it helps to streamline the process. Not of building the relationship-but the initial connection.

A few months ago, I even said Auto Responders were a Do.

So, why am I now stopping automated following on Twitter?

1. Spammers on the rise. This was a given. I automated the initial follow for 2 main reasons: so I wouldn’t miss out on anyone by accident, and I could streamline the process. Now, I am annoyed that there are so many spammers who get auto-followed by my good intentions.

2. Twitter can’t differentiate between automation and spamming. There has been a spamming practice on the rise, where bots (and sadly some people) will follow you, you follow back, and then they unfollow you. This skews their numbers (making them look like a non-spammer). Twitter is cracking down on folks who follow lots of people, and it can’t differentiate by intention.

3. All the cool kids are doing it. Well, that’s not a real reason, but a lot of my reasons are the same as Maria’s for stopping the auto follow process.

What’s the downside?

Manually following each person will inevitably take up more time – and space in my inbox. And time is a rare commodity.

The upside?

I can duck spammers.

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  • Great insight Shama. Being so new to Twitter I’ve only just stayed in manual mode, not even knowing about some of the automation options, yet in just these few days, having to manually decide which follower I wanted to reciprocate or not has taken a lot of time. And already today (having had to go through more than 50 new followers) I was thinking how I might be able to streamline the effort.

    My first thought was to just click “follow” for everyone. Yet right away I recalled the several I had checked on where it was clear they were spammers.

    Then another concept struck me – if i follow just anyone, even tweeters who are offering MLM, get rich quick, and the rest of that noise, how does that make me look if someone is reviewing my list of who I follow?

    So it comes down to reputation management for me as much as anything.

    And I needed to accept today that I will inevitably need to let a lot of followers go unchecked and un-reciprocated as the back-log of new followers grows.

    I just hope I don’t become so concerned with that to have myself one vacation thinking I need to spend that time catching up!

  • 2. Twitter can’t differentiate between automation and spamming.

    the same services that offer auto follow have an unfollow option for anyone that removes you

  • Shama-
    I also don’t auto-follow any more – http://tweepler.com/ is a great resource to check out and decide fairly quickly which new followers to follow back. It’s the easier way I’ve found.

  • I think of getting Twitter followers kinda like collecting business cards at a networking meeting.

    It’s not about the cards, it’s about how you interact with the people who give you the cards. Do you take the time to read the card? Or just stuff in your pocket and say ya, ya, moving on to the next person?

    When I can’t manage the number of people who have added me, I’ll probably put a note on my Twitter background to tell people I can’t follow them back right away, and then I’ll schedule time to do that.

    I’d guess people are following for a reason and would prefer (in general) to be followed back because someone’s taken the time to LOOK at his or her bio and actually CHOOSES to follow them.

    I will say that I’m learning as my followers increase, and I increase who I’m following that I’m seeing how it can get harder and harder to manage. I just keep going back to asking myself how I’d want people to be with me, and I’m trying to be the same way with them.

    Thanx for writing this blog. :)

  • When I first started using Twitter I used the tweetlater service for some automation. I have stopped using this service. I found your article to ring true as my interaction picked up so did my followers but I found that I was getting more and more spam. I read this article and started to use this to manage my Twitter life. http://www.twitip.com/how-to-follow-alot-of-people-on-twitter-and-still-be-engaging-using-tweetdeck/

    I view every profile of the people who follow me and follow people who enrich my life and share my ideas or interests. This allows me to be engaging in conversation and we all get something out of the conversation. By being selective in the people that I follow I ma able to manager the incoming information better as the information has more quality for me. This makes it all the more important to keep a good Twitter profile page.

  • I think the auto-follow story reminds us that it’s about relationships and human interactions first. It’s quite easy to have a ton of friends if you’ve got a good profile but at the end of the day, we seek quality.

    It may take more time but we have to look at it on the long-run.

  • For what it’s worth Guy Kawasaki of Alltop.com indirectly disagrees with you (http://www.clickz.com/3633185), and frankly I do too although I am incredibly wary of the seemingly spammy behaviour. I always aspire to continually meet new people, make new contacts and discover new content!

    At times I can admit a test area for my new followers would be useful, but I find that if you follow the right people from the beginning, tweet out relevant and insightful content related to your expertise or interest, you will get the same type of followers coming to check your profile, by keeping a Twitter profile streamlined it will help in part to keep spammers at bay!

  • Hi Alan,

    You make some excellent points. Yes, the people you follow says something about you. That being said, I agree-it is a VERY time consuming process. But, until there is a better solution – we early adopters will have to dig in!

  • Hi Elysa-

    I’ll take a look. Thanks!

  • Hi there,

    Yes, but that unfollow sometimes takes time to kick in!

  • CJ-

    You are obviously an observer of human behavior-and a savvy networker. : )

    Great points! We all learn as we go right?

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