Tune Up Your Twitter Feed

If you’ve been on Twitter for any length of time, you’re probably following a fair number of accounts (for those who have the opposite issue, I’ll post soon about how to find good accounts to follow). If you follow many more than a few hundred your stream can become unruly, if not entirely unmanageable.

You can handle this in a few ways:

  • Do nothing.
  • Use Twitter lists and apps (e.g. TweetDeck, HootSuite) to prioritize feeds into lists, groups or columns.
  • Pare down the number of accounts you follow.

It’s the last option I’ll address here. I use a combination of techniques to regularly manage the accounts I follow, and I use several different services to accomplish them.

1. I unfollow accounts that no longer add value to my feed. To help assess this I use a service called TwitCleaner. TwitCleaner doesn’t charge for its services. It analyzes all the accounts you follow, and lets you know which ones it thinks you might want to unfollow. You’ll get a DM with a link to your report page once TwitCleaner finishes its analysis. It will display its findings, in summary and in detail.

Here’s what the categories mean:

  • Potentially dodgy behavior (nothing but links, consistently repeating the same URL)
  • Other dodgy behavior, now absent (exhibited the behavior above but hasn’t posted anything for a while)
  • No activity in over a month
  • Not much interaction (fewer than 10 tweets, bots that pump out RSS feeds, hardly follow anyone,)
  • All talk, all the time (average over 24 tweets/day in addition to @replies)
  • Little original content (most of what they tweet is RTs of others)
  • Not so interesting (they talk about themselves more than half of the time, or a very low percentage of the accounts they follow follow them back)

You decide, on an account by account basis, whether to unfollow any of the accounts it suggests as candidates. For example: News feeds and celebrity accounts tend to follow few accounts back; it doesn’t mean you should stop following if you’re interested in what they have to say.

On the other hand, you’ll probably find at least a few accounts to unfollow, for one reason or another. You can also ask TwitCleaner to tell you how your account looks to others who use their service. The results may surprise you!

2. I get a daily report of accounts that have unfollowed me from SocialGrapple. (A link to the report comes via email, which is super handy, although I could generate the same information by visiting the website.) If I was only following any of those accounts as a courtesy, or for a specific time-limited reason like a trip or an online promotion that is over, I’ll likely unfollow back. SocialGrapple will also help you decide whether to check out any of your newest followers more carefully by letting you know if they’re new, have no avatar, a bad ratio of followers to following, etc.

It also shows if you if you’re now “stalking” an account that’s unfollowed you (meaning you’re still following that account). Note: If I remain interested in what that person or feed has to say, I continue to follow even though they’ve unfollowed me. I believe in asynchronous following. I don’t follow people just because they follow me; I follow them because I’m interested in what they’re saying. If someone doesn’t feel the same way about what I’m saying, for whatever reason, c’est la vie.

SocialGrapple isn’t free, but has options ranging from $14 to $125 per month. Each permits up to a certain number s of accounts and keywords to be followed. It’s a really useful service if you’re managing more than one account or if your own account is fairly active. It offers timeline analytics and you can analyze current and potential feeds you’re following by keyword.

3. For an alternate look at accounts to consider unfollowing, I use commun.it. Currently in beta, this service is about building and managing online relationships. With its suggestions for accounts to unfollow, it looks at accounts that have low engagement with you and prioritizes them in terms of relevance and their own influence. That makes sense; a highly influential account is likely to have many followers, which could explains their lower engagement level with any given follower (i.e you).

One final note:  Online reputation measurers (e.g. Brand TrackerPeerIndex) base their estimate of your influence on factors including how engaged your followers are with you (meaning the percentage of your followers who mention, reply and retweet you). If you’re following a bunch of bots or inactive accounts, your scores may suffer because of it. If increasing your Klout score is important to you, that’s another reason to make sure you’re only following accounts that matter to you.

What tools or services do you use to manage your Twitter feed? Please have at it in the comments.


  1. Wow, great post. Thanks for talking about Twit Cleaner. It’s most excellent of you Arlene.

    You also make a great point about news bots & celebs. It’s perfectly normal for them to appear on the reports, and doesn’t imply you should automatically unfollow.

    One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the saying goes – that final step of selection by the user is critical.

    I’m also working towards rolling out a paid version, which will allow you both to select which categories you want on your reports (so, say, you could ignore the news bots altogether), plus whitelist users you really like (so they’ll never appear on any reports).

    Lots of exciting things happening 🙂 Thanks again for mentioning us, I deeply appreciate it.

    Si Dawson
    [Creator of Twit Cleaner]

    1. Thanks, Si. Keep me posted as you improve and refine TwitCleaner, and I’ll update my followers accordingly!

  2. This is a great and useful article for anyone getting more into social media. Thanks for taking the time to write it and share the knowledge.

  3. Hi Arlene,

    Thanx for this great post!

    I am glad you find Commun.it useful in your efforts to keep your community relevant. In addition to “consider follow/unfollow” suggestions, Commun.it strives to do 2 things:
    – Manage your high-value relationships, i.e. supporters, influencers, engaged members
    – Find new leads by monitoring profiles, conversations and links

    Ultimately, our goal is help our users build relationships on Twitter.

    Thank you for test-driving our beta 🙂 We would be glad to share a limited number of invites with your readers. Just drop a line in the comments.

    Mike Polischuk,
    Co-Founder @ Commun.it

    1. Thank you Mike, for taking the time to read and comment. Much appreciated. Hope that a few of my readers will take you up on your beta offer – very generous of you!

Comments are closed.