Ready for Spring Cleaning? Start With Your Twitter Account

Ready for Spring Cleaning? Start With Your Twitter Account

By John McTigueMar 14 /2012

The days of wanting hordes of anonymous, zombie followers on Twitter are over. Klout or no Klout, social media marketing strategy has changed in the last year or two. It's no longer about how many people follow you or how many you follow. Now we are (finally) focusing on building real communities of people with common interests and something to say to each other. So, what do we do with all of the riff-raff we've been collecting in our Twitter closets and garages? Clean 'em out. That's what Spring Cleaning is all about.

Mea Culpa 2012

First, let me admit to the sin and promise to do better. When I started Tweeting in earnest three years ago, I was enamored with being popular, just like everyone else. I built a pretty strong following, on a pace of about 100 new followers a week, or 5,000 per year. Seems goofy now, but until recently social media (and Internet marketing in general) has been a numbers game. Build up a massive following, send out content on a regular basis and surely some of your followers will inquire about doing business with you. In retrospect, this is nothing more than electronic mass marketing. This is not inbound marketing. There are no relationships being formed, unless you actually engage with people in conversation.

time to clean out your social media closet

On the Positive Tip

Well, some good actually did come out of the social media "reach" thing. I did meet some good people online with whom I now have regular conversations. And yes, we (Kuno Creative) did get some qualified sales leads out of the Twittersphere. In fact Twitter is to this day one of our strongest lead generation channels. But I don't think it's because we (I) did the right thing by trying to attract mass numbers of followers. Quite the contrary. I think we've succeeded by virtue of our content and reaching relevant groups and individuals who have shared our best stuff with their friends and followers. So, my strategy has evolved.

New Emphasis on Relevance and Targeting

Now I'm doing a lot more listening and searching for people I admire and want to learn from or with whom I can either do business or collaborate. Of course, this is what I should have been doing in the first place. For example, I search for people interested in inbound marketing using relevant keywords and hashtags using Tweetspinner. I take a good look at their profiles before following and use consistent criteria for following or not.

Ask yourself this - how many people do I actually listen to on a regular basis, and how many of them listen to me? These are the folks you want to follow. Go look at your Twitter lists you use to filter your Tweet streams in Tweetdeck and other tools. If you're like me, there are probably fewer than 100 people you regularly listen to and chat with. Similarly, how many people have included you in their lists? 100? 500? 1,000? Probably not that many. These people are your core target audience. They are the ones who (hopefully) listen to you and mention you on a regular basis. Ideally, this is the group that you want to nurture into the online equivalent of a business community. These are people I could actually see having a conversation with every day.

Cleaning House

So, when you have 17,000+ followers, how do you clean out your account and narrow it down to a manageable, relevant group size? No easy task. You could start from scratch and delete everybody. That's what Chris Brogan did last year. I guess that worked for Chris, but I don't want to throw away the good relationships that I've somehow managed to create.

I found a new tool called JustUnfollow that lets you quickly find all of the people who you follow but don't follow you back, select the ones you want to keep (influencers etc. that are worth listening to even though they don't follow you), and delete the rest. I have also used FriendorFollow, but I like JustUnfollow better for scanning and deleting. It's a bit easier to use and also lets you find inactive followers. Both tools have a small price tag for the versions that let you delete more than a few followers at a time. Again, I'm looking for conversations here, so there's no hope of that with non-followers and inactive tweeps. They will never listen to me and never respond.

How's it Going?

Well, slowly. I'm chipping away at my Twitter account one weekend at a time. To those people who are being dropped - sorry folks, but I'm not sure why you were following me in the first place. To my "keepers," let's start broadcasting less and engaging more. Let's make this a useful conversation for both of us. Next stop? My own social media automation strategy. Yes, I need to trim that down, too, share content when it really matters to me and not so much on a schedule. Working on that...

Photo credit: Michael R Perry

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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn and Twitter.