I Purged My Twitter Acount

Posted on November 25, 2009 10:10 AM by Joel Comm

I've now been on Twitter since May 2007.

When I wrote Twitter power, I had about 5000 followers.

Fast forward to late 2009. I hit 83,000 followers, but that's nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands or millions of followers that some members have acquired.

It's been an interesting ride, but a number of things have happened that have caused me to reevaluate my Twitter strategy.

Just as Twitter is a dynamic site that evolves and changes as it grows, how we use Twitter must also remain fluid.

Let me be clear about one thing.

Twitter is here for the long haul, and it is more important than ever for businesses to be using the service. It's even more important for them to use it in a way that builds relationships and enhances brands.

With that said, I want to share a bit about my journey with you, as well as explain my recent decision to completely purge everyone I am following and start over.

I started using Twitter because I was fascinated by the concept of micro-blogging. It's one thing to blog with no limitations on length. It's another to be limited to 140 characters. How exactly DOES one answer the question "What are you doing?"

In fact, my first tweet was probably similar to the majority of confused Twittedr users.

"Trying to figure out this Twitter thing."

I like to check out new social media sites, so I only gave Twitter a cursory glance and didn't revisit it until November 2007. That's when I "got it."

Twitter wasn't about what I was doing. Twitter was about who I am and how I relate to others.

Twitter wasn't about how many people are following me (even though it is fun to track milestone numbers).

And Twitter wasn't something to build my life around.

Twitter was just an extension of my life. It's another way to be myself and interact with the world and people around me.

To this day, when people ask me how often they should tweet, I tell them that I "tweet like I eat." That is, when I am hungry or have food in front of me.

It's as natural as breathing. It's just living my life.

I may disappear for days and I may go on a streak of @replies. I don't build my life around Twitter. I weave in and out as fits my own goals and lifestyle.

Not everyone takes the same approach.

Over the past couple years, I've seen it all.

Some people are focused on acquiring followers, even to the point of using autofollow software. Essentially the idea is that when you follow random people a lot of them will follow you back.

I actually went through a brief spell of testing this myself and found that a number of people who use TweetLater (now Social Oomph) to autofollow others back do indeed increase their follower count.

I do not endorse this method. Nor do I endorse software used to artificially grow your following. It's not organic and goes against the very principles of social interaction that Twitter is based upon.

Others look at how many followers you have in a competitive sense.

You come across all kinds of characters on Twitter. These are real people that live in the real world. You're bound to find some ... um... strange people?

There was one guy that I followed for a time whose tweets began to creep me out. You know what I mean. There are some people that you just don't want to keep too close.

He began comparing his follower numbers with mine and started calling me out because how was it possible that I was the Twitter expert and he had more followers. Great shades of high school!

He was obviously artificially inflating his numbers by following as many people as Twitter would allow. You can usually tell if this is the case because these people will be following more people than are following them.

Anyhow, I unfollowed this person and he then began calling me out for doing so. It was really just a bit too much crazy for me.

So I blocked him.

Of course, he then began whining that I blocked him as though I was some sort of evil person that the Twitter police should come and arrest. It only served to reinforce my decision to block.

The lesson is this...

Just as you should set healthy boundaries in real life, you have permission to set healthy boundaries on Twitter.

Boundaries exist to keep good stuff in and bad stuff out. Life is complicated enough without having to deal with people who don't have boundaries.

Anyhow, moving on...

My publisher at John Wiley & Sons asked me if I would write Twitter Power in September of 2008.

I said yes and handed them a manuscript by December 1st.

The book came out in February 2009 and has gone on to become the best-selling book on Twitter in the world, even being translated into Portugese, Korean and Chinese, with more on the way.

The second edition manuscript has been submitted and is now in the editing process. It is due out in the spring 2010.

I'm grateful for the fantastic reviews and following that the book has attracted. As a result, I regularly get asked to speak at conferences and workshops, as well as lead a number of teleseminars and webinars on the subject.

And during this time, my follower count has increased to approximately 83,000. I was following approximately 70,000 people.

That's when I really became aware of two things.

1) My stream had become unmanageable. There was no way in the world to keep up with the natural flow of the people I was following. Direct Messages had become laced with spam and I never looked at them. And I lived by the @reply to see tweets that were directly addressed to me.

2) There are tons of spam accounts that exist only to be followed so they can broadcast direct marketing messages to you. Just how many, I didn't know.

I realized it was time to clean up my act.

So this week I began searching for options to do maintenance on my account. What would that mean?

The first thought was that I would manually begin unfollowing people I didn't really know, or that I suspected to be spam accounts.

I realized this would take an unreasonable amount of time and manpower. It wouldn't work.

So what if I could just unfollow the spam accounts? How would I go about finding those?

I found this page which had some suggested Twitter follower management tools.

Twitter bulk unfollow tools

Most of them couldn't process the large number of followers I had and timed out before loading them into their interface. Fail.

I ended up at Social Too, and saw that they offered a complete following wipe for $25.

I thought about it for thirty seconds and decided what the heck. Let's just start over.

Most of the Twitter spam accounts use a follow-back service. So if I unfollow them, they will unfollow me automatically.

And thus began "the great Twitter purge of 2009".

I paid my $25, pushed the button, and began to watch the number of people I was following drop like a rock.

By morning, I was following no one. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Zed. Bupkis.

And my follower count has plummeted from 83,000 to 72,000.

I fully expect it to continue falling as people realize they have been unfollowed.

I'm just fine with it because my new Twitter strategy is this.

1) I will follow who I want to follow because I want to follow them. That means I will follow friends, family, associates, those I find personally interesting and those who interact with me.

2) Don't follow me if you aren't interested in following me. My tweets will just clutter your stream.

It's amazing how many people got hacked off because I unfollowed them. It's almost an entitlement mentality. "GASP! I deserve to be followed by you!"

And not everyone who follows me is going to agree with me!

I am not shy about sharing my opinions on political, religious and societal matters.

Follow me and you'll discover that I am a conservative Christian (not one of THOSE!)

You'll also find out that I have been saying global warming is a hoax for quite some time.

You may be shocked when you realize that I love sugary foods even though they aren't good for you.

I am honest about who I am and not afraid to be real with others.

Yes, I have had people unfollow me because of a view they don't like.

Ok, buh-bye.

They have called me out publicly for not being politically correct.

No one is forcing you to follow me. Don't let the virtual door hit you on the way out.

Now please don't misunderstand me.

That doesn't mean I WANT you to unfollow me. It just means that you don't have to if you don't want to. My feelings will not be hurt!

I am a nice guy and very social. If you have ever met me in person you know that what you see is what you get. I don't pretend to be something I'm not. I greet everyone with a smile. :-)

But you know what?

I'm not going to have anyone dictate to me how I do or don't use Twitter.

Use Twitter how you want.

Personally, I believe that purging accounts that have spun out of control is a good thing. It is very freeing from my perspective.

As I result, I believe I will be getting more, and giving more, on Twitter.

Please leave your comments below and feel free to tweet this article!

158 Comments For This Post

  1. Eric Farewell Says:

    Heya Joel... I love this post.
    I actually made a similar decision to unfollow everyone earlier this year.... Suddenly, Twitter is SO much more fun :) I lost over 8,000 followers but I think that it's WELL worth it.

    The ones who are left? They actually MATTER.

  2. Garrett Pierson Says:


    Great article! I think you definetly made the right decision and to all those that are unhappy with you, so sad to bad!

  3. Joshua Skogerboe Says:

    Joel, I say good for you. I have a very very very small "following" so to speak compared with you big shots. :-) But I have ZERO problem with that. I was never interested in sheer numbers. I only follow people who have some shared interest or who make interesting observations on life - or who add value by sharing valuable content. That's it. And I actually BLOCK anyone who doesn't seem to be a real person with some of the above characteristics to share.

    I follow more people that follow me because I'm very religious aabout purging the clutter from my account every few days. I go through every other day and block about 6 or 7 spammish followers. I don't want spammers automated follow programs searching their follow lists and auto-following me. It'll just lead to more spam.

    So my numbers are in the low hundreds, but I feel like it is a community of like minded people communicating with each other. My stream is spam free. My DMs are from people I want to hear from. It works great.

    And I follow you because you are consistently interesting. So add me to your follow list dude! Thanks for the post. Have a great Thanksgiving.


  4. Chris Says:

    Pulling a John Chow.You know your going to get some slack for doing it, just like he did.

  5. Bill Watkins Says:

    Hi Joel,

    If I were in your shoes, I would do the same thing. In fact, with the 628 I'm now following, I may follow suit.

    For me it was not about numbers but my interest. I'm almost got into the numbers thing and considered an auto follow application but that was to impersonal. To me, I just want to follow those that interest me.

    Thanks for making me feel better about this, not that its about me. I really want it to be about my clients, potential clients, family, friend and new friends. I've made quite a few and thanks to you and others in Northern Colorado, I've had the opportunity to meet quite a few more folks. Some with common interests and beliefs. Some not.

    I for one will continue to follow you even if you don't follow me because I find your information very helpful! I also enjoy your opinions and appreciate you being willing to share them, no matter how "politically incorrect!" Love it!

    Thank you and God bless you!

  6. Dianne Says:

    Hi Joel. Personally I have to block more people than not on Twitter. I get many porn site invites. What a bother. So I'm not enchanted by Twitter at all. I'm glad some other dance and ballet people follow me - but I don't find it very useful....

  7. Sean Mize Says:


    Congrats on making the big choice to do this. I think so many people are so consumed with the numbers, they can't make a system work for them.

    The thing is, all the people who you were following were a) not making you new money and b) not useful to your long term strategy.

    So...kudos to you!


  8. Starting a Cake Business Says:

    I starting using Twitter about 3 months ago. I have something like 78 Followers. I'm very happy with this because they are my friends and close associates. It's wonderful.

    For my "Starting a Cake Business" book it's been perfect. Those 78 people, give or take, have been my champions. They blog and talk about the book, and they stay in close personal touch with me through Twitter.

    I like it better than email and Facebook, for sure. Twitter's clean and simple. And, it allows me to be in the public with a "firewall" in place, if you know what I mean.

    Love your stuff, Joel. Keep it coming!

    -~- Karen A.

  9. Farrhad A Says:

    I absolutely agree with you!

    I too followed almost everyone back earlier, but I have changed that since a few months.
    And still people follow me, which is great.


  10. Simon Says:

    A very interesting concept and one that I will seriously consider for my own twitter account as currently I have given up using it because of all the spam messages etc. Thank you for the idea and the link for the total swipe.



  11. Randi Destefano, ASID Says:


    Thank you for writing this post, because I've been thinking the same thing lately. Even with my meager 580 followers I've had to block people, unfollow people, and wade my way through sales pitches. You've reinforced my decision to only follow people who interest me and who tweet with respect.

  12. Carlos Says:

    I applaud your move to clean up your Twitter account and wish you the very best...what I shall I say...Tweeting?

    Personally I think Twitter is a complete waste of time for me. I just don't have time for it at all (nor for Facebook or any of the other "must have" social networking sites). Mainly I focus on web development work for clients, building my own internet products, Adsense, and forum posting. That's all I literally have time for (aside from the usual neccessary life tasks like eating, sleeping, using the bathroom, and showering).

    Some people really seem to do well with Twitter. I like your approach of using it when and if it fits into what is generally going on in your life.


  13. Chris Says:

    Well I don't Blame you Joel with that Amount of Followers.Recently I just Started Cleaning out My Followers list because I can't find the Things I am Interested in.I think I will Leave my Present Account and just go make a New one for the people I am Interested in.

  14. Barry Cunningham Says:

    This was both refreshing and entertaining at the same time. I feel a movement coming on and I think I will do the same. While I have no where near 80,000 followers, things have already become unmanageable for me and I would rather interact with those I actually want to hear from...like you!

  15. Marty M. Fahncke Says:


    Nice post. Very clearly articulates exactly why you did what you did, and all the good reasons for doing so. And of course, you will be blasted for it!

    When I'm rich and famous like you, perhaps I'll do the same thing.

    Thanks for fighting the good fight!

    Marty M. Fahncke

  16. Gerald Lopez Says:

    Good on you Joel! Too many people are hung up about needing to be accessible and connected. It is a personal choice. As you say, connections are organic. Technology follows human needs and desires, and not the other way.

    Perhaps people will start realising that Internet communication is not just for spamming ads, newslinks or porn. Perhaps they will get a life and start using the technology to enrich themselves and others with the power of human connection from the heart.

    Best regards,

  17. Jason DeBruler Says:

    Great post Joel! I wish more people would take your approach to twitter. I personally cannot imagine following more than 50-100 people. Even at my current number of 48 people I'm following, (all people or businesses that I am truly interested in hearing from) I find it incredibly difficult to "consume" that much content. I'm looking forward to seeing what Twitter does to improve on "authority". I avoid people that are following more than a couple hundred people like the plague! Seems like a clear cut sign that they are spammers to me. Thanks again for the great post. I hope others follow this approach!

  18. Pablo Says:

    Right on the money! Very well put, I totally agree.

  19. Nickolove Lovemore Says:


    I applaud your decision and as for that person who kept "calling you out" well they should know that it's not about the number of followers you have, it's about the number of listeners.

    I too am re-evaluating my Twitter strategy. I find that no matter how much you automate some aspects of Twitter it can still be very time-consuming. So you really do have to be very clear about how you use Twitter or else it will simply use you.

    Best wishes


  20. Lon Naylor Says:


    I absolutely couldn't agree more! I've been thinking the same thing the whole time this Twitter nuttiness has been flying about...

    I do love that it really IS a great tool IF used in precisely the manner you described.

    I'm with ya! Thanks for the great post.

    Lon Naylor

  21. Christina Hills Says:


    Congrats on taking back control of your twitter stream

    I've been contemplating the same with Facebook.
    I have just too many friends on Facebook.

    Yes, my twitter stream is crowded too.

    I will follow you on Twitter, as I have in the past, because
    I love what you do, and I love your marketing!

    -Christina Hills
    The Shopping Cart Queen

  22. Lynn Says:

    Hey Joel - thank you, thank you, thank you! This makes me feel very much happier about my cautious approach to Twitter since I signed up earlier this year. First, I found it so odd to have complete strangers follow me when I say so little and the thought of having a stream of updates that I would then have to filter was more than I wanted to think about, so I adopted an only-follow-if-interested-or-know-you policy. I have low, low, low, numbers but I like it that way and even as my strategy for using Twitter with my business evolves I truly believe that the approach you outline is the way to go.

  23. Arvind Leo Pereira Says:

    Am still learning the benefits and about twittering, i guess it is abt speaking your opinion to a large mass and not bore them with a big story

  24. Mike Says:

    Hi Joel,

    You've got some nerve using your Twitter account as you see fit. What kind of example are you setting? Just kidding. ;-)

    Once again you're proving that great minds think for themselves. Thank you for the open and complete explanation for your decision. Good for you!!!

    Just imagine what would happen in this world if everyone took responsibility for their own actions and thought for themselves.

  25. Anita Cohen-Williams Says:


    I absolutely agree with what you say here! I have been using Twitter to brand myself, and, while I "only" have about 3,000 followers (and have been on Twitter as long as you), those people follow me because they are interested in what I have to say.

    I only follow those people that are interesting to me, and refuse to use any of the follower tools. By artificially inflating the number of followers, IMHO, you end up with people that have no real interest in you, but who followed you anyways.

  26. Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. Says:

    Joel not everyone has something informative to say. If I had a nickel for everyone who told me they just took their dog for a walk I'd be a millionaire by now.


  27. Natalie Says:


    Thanks for a whole new twist on Twitter following.

  28. Utahcon Says:

    I have never been a big fan of following everyone, or friending everyone on every site, isn't worth it to me. I would rather have people who really know me, or really are interested in me, or vice versa be my friends and followers.

    I haven't the numbers you have, I am only at 69 followed and 128 following (most I am sure spammers). I unfollow anything that gets out of my line of interest.

    Good for you!

  29. Fr. Wade Fahnestock Says:

    Don't Twed on Me!
    It's time for me to loose some Twitter Clutter, too!
    This is kinda like my Thanksgiving homily, "Thanks! But NO THANKS! - Knowing 'When' to say 'When!'"

    Even my small amount of followers on Twitter have become unmanageable.

    Thanks for your post!

    Peace & Happy Thanksgiving!

    Fr. Wade+
    Lakeland, FL

    aka FriarWade

  30. Geri Winters Says:

    Joel -

    Thanks for this article. I have taken the approach of following anyone who followed me, mainly just to figure out what was good about Twitter and how it could be used.

    But there is a lot of junk out there. I have far fewer people I follow than you do (under 200) and it is impossible to keep up with the stream. My life is not about Twitter, nor do I want to make it my full time job to read Tweets!

    You have inspired me to clean out my list and focus on people who matter to me.

    Best -

    Geri Winters

  31. Miles Baker Says:

    Hey Joel,

    Great post, and I couldn't agree more with the strategy. I was in the same boat, I was following everyone that followed me, until one day my twitter stream became completely useless. I was wondering why in the world am I even reading some of this stuff.

    Twitter has no rules, and sometimes I unfollow people, then refollow them, then maybe I'll unfollow them again. And I like to use it so that I'm getting value out of it and connecting with people I really want to.

    Tweet like you eat! ;)

  32. Tim Says:

    I use Twitter mainly to Tweet my blog posts now and to see what else is going on in the world. I've tried to interact with people, including some I personally know, and just got ignored. No big deal.

    If I do post a personal Tweet about my views or whatever, and if someone doesn't like it and wants to unfollow me, I really don't care. Like you said, "don't let the virtual door hit you on the way out".

  33. Alexis Martin Neely Says:

    Hi Joel, I did my own mass unfollow about 3 months or so ago, lost over 10k followers when I did it too. Since then, I have intentionally followed back people I want to connect with.

    My Twitter experience has been MUCH richer as a result.

    1. No auto DM spam.
    2. When I read my stream, it's all people I know, like and trust (other than when Twitter auto follows someone random for me without my permission - weird!)
    3. It's given me insight into people I don't want a relationship with based on how they handled my unfollow.

    Overall, I felt a whole lot lighter! :)

    Have a very happy Thanksgiving.


    ps- i'm @alexisneely if you want to follow me again.

    pps - The kids are LOVING (and fighting over) the flying monkey. Lol.

  34. Johannes Stockburger Says:

    I found that Twitter is a great tool to gather information, not a mere broadcasting service.
    And Joel, you are right: I use Twitter and Facebook to a good part as a source of valuable information, and I have to choose to whom to listen.
    On the other hand, I am amazed how big the response on my tweets are, and how much traffic they generate.

  35. Dan Says:

    >>Follow me and you'll discover that I am a conservative Christian (not one of THOSE!)

    As one of *those* unmentionables myself, I know what you mean...not being PC nowadays makes us a very bad person!! LoL ;-)

    Keep the faith,

  36. Mikkel Says:

    It is impossible to manage a stream of over 20,000 followers...

    Now I follow 1,500 people - which I can tell you some of those are spammers, but I sort them and unfollow them when I see them in the timeline. In that way I tries to unfollow all spam accounts.

  37. Ellie Manwiller Says:

    I certainly understand what you're doing. I only have about 2500 followers so I can imagine what your Twitter experience was like. I won't be unfollowing you no matter what because I respect your marketing talents and I still want to see what you have to say. Thanks for sharing this with us. Trying to do good stuff ...

  38. Eric Bonnici Says:

    Bravo Joel!

    I've been considering doing this myself. Part of my hesitation has been because there are some people I follow that I want to keep up with. And having to refollow them again is going to be tedious.

    I first heard of my friend Bill Platt doing this. And shortly after him John Reese did the same. Bill actually wrote a free report about at:


    I plan to follow in your footsteps and do the same. I'm even considering turning off the follow back anyone who follows me option I have set up over at social too.

    My advice to anyone who is concerned about growing their followers...

    Tweet valuable useful information and be sure to take part in the Twitter conversation. Ask questions, answer questions, comment, etc. and make sure its useful, entertaining, funny, helpful etc. Do that and people will follow you.

    Congratulations on purging your account!

    Eric Bonnici

  39. Howard Bifson Says:

    Nice post Joel, I agree with you that it is quality vs quanity. I am small by numbers(just under 200)but it is at least interesting and fun to read and feels comfortable.

    and yes, I have always enjoyed your tweets..



  40. DeaconDavid Says:

    Hi Joel. I agree with you that it only makes sense to follow people that matter to you. I too have received several notices of people following me just to build up their numbers. If you are going to use Twitter use it for the right reasons.

    Good post.

  41. Heather Says:

    Woo-hoo Joel! I've never been big on getting massive numbers and too have been feeling like I can't find the people I'm really interested in. When I first signed up for Twitter, I loved that fact that I could find so many cool people....of course as you grow the base, they get lost amongst the spam. I've been contemplating scrubbing and using the twitter validation service, but haven't committed.

    From a fellow Conservative Christian and one that also knows 'global warming' is a hoax! Cheers! Heather

  42. Betty Pipia Says:

    Hi Joel:
    I have been on your list a long time and have followed your advice before. It always works for me so I trust and value your opinion! If you say this is the way to go with Twitter than so be it! Looking forward to your new book!

  43. Karen Sosnick Says:

    Reminds me of an article I read recently on email bankruptcy. When the thing gets too big to whittle down you simply delete everything and start over. I wasn't brave enough to do it entirely, so I moved all email to an archive folder.

    From the Twitter perspective, it seems to be that in addition to managing the number and type of people you are following, using some sort of grouping tool on a proactive basis would help make sure that you can effectively manage who you follow going forward.

  44. guest Says:

    Do the good thing is what I like to at all times and with people who are doing the same thing as a standard thing. Following your friends and family is what Twitter was in the first place created for, if I'm correct. That's why it's a good thing to follow whoever YOU! want, when using your personal twitter account. But Joel what about the commercial ones??:)

    How will you handle those because most of us have a second....fifth...twentieth...tweet account,right?...or am i wrong?

    But your take is a solid one, and that's a good thing.

  45. Betty Pipia Says:

    Hi Joel:
    I have been on your list a long time and have followed your advice. It always worked for me so I trust and value your opinion. If you say this is the way Twitter should go than so be it! Looking forward to your new book!

  46. Lily Says:

    Joel, I can really relate. My Twitter account has been pretty well ruined by not policing it enough. I am trying to weed out all the XXXblackbook Spammers but it is taking a long time. I tell all my friends just starting out on Twitter to weed out these "twits" from the get go. They ruin it for the rest of us.
    I can relate in other ways too. My web presence is quite a different one from yours, but I recently decided that a project that meant a great deal to me either needed to be scrapped or entirely overhauled as it was attracting too much of the wrong element in its present form. I opted to turn the project over to a different writer and to change my own focus. I am still a consultant on the project and will be credited as its creator.
    Reading this article really made me feel good. Thanks for sharing it.

  47. Doug Champigny Says:

    With your high profile you'll continue to attract a lot of followers, bro - maybe you should use a GUI like TweetDeck for your twittering, since you can add 'VIP' columns to keep tweets from selected users separate.

    That way you can see those tweets most important to you easily, and save checking all the tweets from those you follow for those times when you care to browse them.

  48. Robert Fay Says:

    This is great. I just started doing the same thing, even though i am new to the social media and Twitter thing. It didn't seem to take me as long as it did you to get to this point. Why? Because I was getting all sorts of pitches from people that would not be in my niche. Everyone was selling their way to make money on the internet. Nothing else was showing up. Then i found out how to identify by keyword those who would be interested in my stuff. Now, i only follow those whose website i like or respond to. I am going to "follow" to pursue connections to those who have keyword categories that fit to my interest areas and try to DM most of my commentary to those individuals. Mostly i want to limit my numbers.

  49. Scott Lovingood Says:

    Great post. Glad to see the tools you used to do it as well. Twitter is an interesting beast. It provides different things for different people.

    I love the fact that you have a strategy with it. Most people use tools and have no idea why they are using them. The number of people that follow me or that I follow matter less to me than the relationship I have with them. I used some of the autofollow tools early on but didn't like the results.

    My stream became polluted so to speak with "stuff" that really didn't interest me. Thankfully I use a tool that allows me to group users and manage that stream somewhat.

    I always look forward to your Tweets. To be honest I follow you more because of your political, religious, philosophical stances than because of your knowledge of Twitter or any other technology.

    Keep up the good work and enjoy your Thanksgiving.


    You can also link to me on Linkedin at http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottlovingood

  50. Guitar Player Says:

    Wow, thanks...you gave me some great reasons to unfollow you on twitter.

  51. Hans Anneveld Says:

    I feel a trend:
    emotion, spontaneity and attention are winning from numbers and technique?

    On the other hand: numbers is OK; I don't want control over who is coming in; I just want to control the inner-circle-quality. To build/keep quality relations.
    The numbers are - perhaps - great for visibility, and certainly as a large "pool" to throw out a line from time to time.
    Hans "ArtKids" Anneveld

  52. jim cockrum (SilentJim) Says:

    QUESTION: Is there any risk of account shut down if you suddenly stop following everyone? Doesn't twitter frown on this?

    kudos on not hiding your belief system. I've been a lot bolder lately about my conservative and more importantly Christian views lately and I'm finding it more rewarding than ever. On IMreportcard.com

  53. chele Says:

    Very well said. And thank goodness you're a Christian conservative! ;-)

  54. Harry Says:

    I agree 100%, I have a hard time keeping up with the few I have.

  55. Dan Nickerson Says:

    Joel, I was deeply hurt and offended that I wasn't the first person you followed back after the purge. Top ten is nice and all, but really a slap in the face.

    If it's not too much trouble could you repurge everyone again and refollow me first?

  56. Kenny Meyer Says:

    Reasonable decision.

  57. David Says:

    I just started using Tweepular (Free) to clean the 1,000 twitter followers:

    I agree it should be about quality and not quantity.

  58. David Sandusky Says:

    I love how we have hijacked twitter beyond "what are you doing" to sharing and discussion.

    I will be following you because of this post and what I learned about our shared philosophy...one of your followers shared with us. Good to meet ya!

    I don't care if you follow me back if I get value from you. If we chat, who knows what could happen. If you happen to follow me first, I will follow you back automatically, but may quickly change my mind if I don't like your auto DM intro or some other nonsense as determined by me. I found this approach easier than the email folder filled with followers I promised myself I would check out before following.

  59. Penny Preston Says:

    Excellent post, Joel. This is making me rethink my own Twitter strategy (or lack of). I must admit that I did neglect my Twitter account for a while while I was busy focusing on other areas of my web business. I now find myself ploughing through Tweets that bear absolutely no relationship to my PLR website or internet marketing in general. That's the best case scenario - I recently had to block someone who was openly promoting sexually explicit materials. Up to this point, I had been automatically approving followers but this has definitely made me rethink this approach.

    I will follow you as I am interested in what you have to say.

    Penny Preston
    The PLR Connection

  60. John Komatsoulis Says:


    I think this is a great idea and will allow you to work with those that
    matter. Plus, all these hackers and viruses are getting out of control.

    Is there a limit of how many people you can unfollow at one time?

    John Komatsoulis

  61. Ken Says:

    I totally agree with the unmanageable account thought. Does anybody really think that someone who follows thousands of people, who is following them, actually reads any of their tweets? It's just huge waste of bandwidth!

  62. Matt G Says:

    Hey Joel, good stuff!

    I agree. I purged The Sales Corner account when I was following 3000 twitterers I never wanted to follow. Not only were the auto DM's to much, but the tweets flowing across were unmanageable and I missed most of the ones I wanted to see anyway!

    In sales, this is just like reviewing your lead lists or working to identify who to contact next. In the world of twitter, who's opting into you, is just as important as who you are opting to see yourself.

    If you don't close the right disconnects, your in for a world of spam, and either a cost to purge the list, or a lot of work manually (like i did it) to get the list down to a manageable level!

    Matt G
    The Sales Corner
    Get Noticed!

  63. Leon Says:

    Hand clapping, smile, laugh, happiness!!

    How dare you! - just kidding :)

    I applaud you Joel - hard decision to make and probably not a popular one, but about time..... Well done!

    Twitter is an excellent tool and relationship builder... not a lifestyle.



  64. Jim Bob Howard Says:

    Did the same thing awhile back... likewise on Facebook. I like the leaner feel of my smaller "Following" list. Looking forward to learning more from you.

    Jim Bob Howard

  65. Georgina Says:

    Hi there Joel although I highly doubt that my comment will ever be read by you.I was one of the first people who joined twitter out of curiosity mostly as I had no idea exactly what it was in the beginning.Suddenly only months later all this fuss about it and the race of having more and more followers has started getting annoying for me.After all what's the point in having followers you will never communicate with?Another thing I hate is automation!!!When I tweet it is me not a cold machine and when I send a thanks for following tweet it is me replying with something personal.Nothing I despise more than getting automatic responses.What's the point in having followers who don't even know they are following you ? Crazy....We have lost it...big time..:(

  66. Brad West Says:

    I have known this for quite some time Joel,
    I think that Twitter defiantly has it's limitations, TweetDeck solves some of those issues if you set-up a couple different groups you can slow down the stream to something more manageable.

    But there is still the question of twitter garbage cluttering up the main stream and using up your api. Don't get me wrong I use a feed to post to one of my accounts but I believe I do it responsably I allow 1 tweet from the Internet Marketers guild if there is a new post to tweet every 3 hours.

    I totally understand where you are coming from. Most big marketers Don't answer e-mails never mind tweets, so why bother following. Be up front and honest if you know that people need you more than you need them show then that right up front.

    Brad West ~ onomoney

  67. Leighann Garber Says:

    Cool, I didn't know you could buy a Twitter purge. I'm very new to Twitter, and I'm amazed at all the add-ons and support software there is.

    I am not following that many people (well, a few, over 600, with 400 followers). I was desperate for followers in the beginning, and often didn't even look at someone's profile before I followed. But I've noticed that I've made some real connections with some people. And other people are just sending me the same crap over and over. I've been just unfollowing anyone who sends "how I got 5,000 followers automatically for free" (that's usually all they tweet). That's a no-brainer. They're not reading anything I say. And I'm scrutinizing accounts of anyone who sends weird stuff... Even 600 is too much to go through my whole list. I'm getting rid of a lot of trash, and losing followers right and left. But I'm coming up with cream to replace them. Feels like going on a diet. :) oh yeah!

  68. Ken Soszka Says:

    Hi Joel,

    Yes, Social Networking should be social. When people follow for the sake of being followed, it's really just shotgun blast style advertising that nobody is reading, isn't it?

    By the way - I got rid of my goatee around the time that you did, but my wife missed it so I grew it back! :-) Did you?

    Ken Soszka

  69. Del Williams Says:

    You know Joel, I had considered doing that same thing. It makes sense really.

  70. Howard "OutSourcerer" Tiano Says:

    Funny, but isn't that the original idea of Twitter...following friends, family, and those you have an interest in connecting with?

    Sometimes it's good to get back to basics, but many times it takes going over the line into extreme territory to gain perspective.

    Reclaim your life!


  71. Margaret Hampton Says:

    Hi Joel,

    You are so intelligent and practical, honest and real, personable and true... and I love it! Your decision really ties in with all of that. Oh, and did I say "forthright and courageous," too? Bravo!

    I loved meeting you at a couple of conferences (Dan, too) and seeing your warm smile, sensing your integrity, and benefiting from your insights. So there's no way I would not follow you, whether you follow me back or not!

    Like you, I am "one of THOSE" - a conservative Christian who is not shy about sharing my opinions, analyses, and findings on various topics - which usually end up not being "politically correct" but blatantly honest. And like you, I've boldly posted links to scientific findings showing the cruel HOAX of "global warming," making so obvious the damaging political agenda behind it. (Watch out for Copenhagen!) And I'm not afraid to be real with others. I respect others who don't agree with me, and I'll openly admit when I discover I've made a mistake. After all, I'm human - like you!

    So if you find the diversity of my links and comments to be of interest - political, economic, religious, societal, family, health, Florida Gators - please follow me - @MargHamp - But if not, I'm going to follow you anyway! And you've made me rethink with this article just what my own Twitter following strategy should be. (I've some house-cleaning to do.) Thank you!

    You are blessing. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you and for other people like you who continue to touch my life, even when you don't know it. I pray you and your family have a most blessed Thanksgiving filled with praise and the joy of the Lord!

    Blessings, my friend,


  72. Gary A. Parenti Says:

    Hellooooo Joel,

    I can't remember when and if I
    Posted here last.I have posted
    on so many Blogs in the past 6
    months that I have lost track.

    I don't believe that I have had
    a stalker on twitter yet.Apparently
    this stalker of yours doesn't know
    whom you are.Well I do and I get
    mail from you all the time.I really
    can care less who follows me as long
    as they look at what they are following
    B4 they follow.

    Whenever I get a new follower,I look
    at what they do online B4 I follow them
    back.Great Post Joel and I will be looking
    forward to your next.

    One of your followers,
    Gary Parenti,

  73. Shane Lowry Says:

    Great thoughts and I'm looking forward to the new edition of the book.

    I've been toying with the idea of starting fresh myself. What I love is the constant stream on consciousness that the main thread has, but it's difficult to follow closely more than a few folks.


  74. Tom Justin Says:

    Hi Joel,

    What you wrote makes perfect sense.

    It also shows that Twitter is still so new that even the experts are on a high learning curve.

    It also means I'm not going to buy anymore hard copy books on the subject anytime soon.

    Write on!

    Tom Justin

  75. Jeff Herring Says:

    Great shades of high school!

    Just saying hey and I appreciate who you are...


  76. Dino Says:

    Awesome post, surely did enjoy reading it. There is so much twitter can do and i appreciate it's web presence day by day.

    Dino | Dinono.com

  77. Leanne Hoagland Smith Says:

    Quality wins over quantity every time and actions must be in alignment with overall predetermined plan. Great column and thank you. This speaks to not only Twitter but all marketing activities.

  78. steve ward Says:

    Excellent post, joel. i agree and im looking to purge my own account as well it not the number of people but the feeling of the people im dealing with.

    most seem like spam too me, and im doing the same thing with my blog changing it around adding stuff taking stuff away. some times i will loose people but not much.

    I live by this Experiment with life if i need to change something or feel that is a better path then i do it and i loose little it seems in fact i gain more.

    better people
    more people

  79. Brian Says:

    Does this mean there is a shift in using Twitter as a Marketing Tool? Is less more? I would be interested in knowing the answer to this. Personally, I have not really used Twitter for any kind of IM.

  80. Slavica Says:

    Before reading other people's comments I'll leave my one;what you wrote and decided comes to be my own approach since i got to Twitter/by the way i was referred by you,receive your messages in my inbox as your subscriber/
    I love twitter,spend much time sending my tweets,i write them "live" no automatic messages,i write about book-reviews i made on my blog,write some quotations direct to twitter/only live i get inspiration/...that is most important for me and my presence there.People who send their tweets/not to be automatic/are also important to me..i like reading tweets,there is many lovely quotes more.i don't need score of twitters sending some advertising tweets that i even don't read-reason i never used auto-follow,i everything do manual;I have found time to check out who follow me or not,and unfollowed them and inactive ones.
    And i wondered myself: how it would be like to follow enormous number of people?Now, according to your comment i see where that leads....you are right of course:everything on Twitter and about Twitter we need to make some SENSE!
    Thanks for helpfull article

  81. Debi Zylbermann Says:

    Hi Joel,
    You are SOOO right !
    I must admit that I hardly ever twitter, but even so I have too many followers. The thing is that I almost never follow people who I don't know, who for some strange reason follow me. Eventually they get the idea and drop off, I guess. I follow 140 people (including you :-) ), which is manageable. And I only follow people who I am interested in or who write things that I like.
    So - well done, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
    Debi Zylbermann

  82. LeadPro Says:

    Hi Joel,

    I have not visited your blog for quite sometime. It thought this should be a great post after reading your email alert. As expected, it had tons of information for followers, believers, and non-followers too. Every social tool goes through major changes when the critical mass changes; probably this is going to be Twitter 2.0 with major change if focus. Even Twitter has changed its tag line to "What is happening?" now. Change is the only constant in the social media.

    BTW, I don't agree with your views on "global warming". The scenarios depicted by the scientists may not be entirely true. But the "sustainability" of the current world practices is very low. It is nothing more than the assumption of automakers that people will keep buying bigger, better and more vehicles in the decades. Lifestyles will have to change; big business practices have to change. Imagine healthcare expenses increasing 10% every year for the next few decades. Global warming is the net result of current human practices. I am sure that nature will takes its own course to correct the same; but it will be bitter pill.

    Coming back to Twitter, keep up the good work! There are thousands of people who truly follow you for your information and insight.


  83. Susan Connors Says:

    Hi Joel

    I can understand why you have restarted with Twitter.

    Something I have done too.

    Its easier the second time round to keep it real and attract quality attention no those annoying spam tweets or unwanted tweets.

    Congrats on the book as well.

    All the best

    Susan Connors

  84. @CoachDeb Says:

    btw: there's a Free service to do the same thing:




  85. Timothy Carter Says:

    Great post Joel, so I'm not the only one lately who has "refreshed" who they follow on Twitter of late. ;-)

    I was writing my latest blog post on why I had deleted everyone I followed a couple weeks ago when I got your email about this post:


    We need to follow our instincts on how we use Twitter and how it works best for us.

  86. Lani Says:

    Great article, Joe! I have been thinking about purging my own Twitter account for a long time. I only have 233 people following me after about a year on Twitter.

    These are all people that I have personally looked at their account and they appeared to be ok people. But, I don't know most of these people and I found the traffic too much. The people I knew I missed their tweets. So, I stopped looking at Twitter.

    I followed the advise of "don't be a Twitter Snob, you should follow people that follow you". I didn't want to be rude so I followed - the ok people. Now I am going to take back my Twitter traffic flow.

  87. krystynchong Says:

    Hi Joel. I enjoyed reading this and can relate. I purged my account 4 days ago using www,unfollowall.com. it didn't cost anything but it didn't allow me to go to sleep, either. I hit the "refresh" button probably 10X bc it gave me error and fail alerts. It'd immediately dump another batch and give alerts again, so the process played out repeatedly but fairly quickly. Not bad for free. I had a mere 15k to purge compared to your 83k. I've lost almost 4k users and probably will continue to lose unless I can get word out to those still not aware and who do the "backatcha" unfollow. These are the same people who've #FF me over 3, 4 times - which saddens me and I feel inclined to give them an explanation. Sometimes, it's not worth it.

    The auto-unfollows went very quickly. Expected. Still happening, somewhat I think...

    why THE HEADACHE: I want to follow the active users back who aren't the spammers linking the same stuff all day and night. I wasn't prepared for the difficulty in finding these people who aren't on lists or timeline - I now know there are a lot more than I had calculated. I imagined I'd send messages "tweet me so I can follow you back" and bam...back to where I left off. NOPE.. 20 x hasn't been enough. Now I'm to the point where I'll just accept that they think I dissed them and not explain myself even tho they block me and make lists especially for me titled "doesntfollowback' or other names I can't repeat.

    I let them know what was up bc that's just mean spirited (lists that spew) but my point in writing this is I've learned that people aren't as gracious and kind no matter how much you extended it to them via rt's following mentions etc. they just don't care? "you unfollowed so you're now blocked, I don't ever unblock no matter what reason. hope you understand." LMAO. I love that. that was a tweet sent to me via messenger from person I asked to unblock me so I could explain. No gratitude.

    It's disheartening watching your numbers dwindle but I was prepared for it. I'm a better helper and friend now that I can see what's on my stream.

    Thanks for letting me purge. I'm glad someone linked this to me who knew what I've been going through.

    Happy Thanksgiving. :)


  88. Glenn Says:

    Hey Joel,

    Great post! "Honesty is the best policy", that is what you bring to the table. I have been "following" you for about 4 years now since I met you in Phoenix. You have provided excellent content and tremendous insight to all of us trying to make it online. I found it interesting that we are like minded and value Christian, Conservative values. Keep bringing it on!

    Thanks for your time Joel and keep up the great work you do for others!



  89. Patrick Garmoe Says:

    Joel, thanks for the great post. Ever since Twitter allowed for automatic following, the follower figure went out the window for me. I feel like there ought to be nothing "automatic" about the site, but that's just me. I'm a conservative Christian as well (gasp) and have really enjoyed your Tweets. I'm a social media manager now, and yours was the first book on Twitter I read. (The only book on Twitter I've read) and I naturally learned a ton from it. Keep up the good work. Perhaps some day it will seem cool to be following as few people as possible. But I like your bottom line: Use Twitter the way you want to.

  90. Robert Says:

    Question Joel: Would you have done this before the launch of your book on Twitter?

  91. tiffany Says:

    Hi Joel.
    as i am really new to twitter, i only follow few people i feel interesting and i like what they tweet about. But i think we all wants to keep up with people who we are able to click to or same mindset and interest.As for the strategy to get followers, i still dont have much idea yet.hah

  92. M. R. Lawrence Says:

    Twitter Tweets and Tweets Twitter.

    But Beware the Tweetee Twitts!

  93. Henry Says:

    Hi Joel,

    twitter may leverage our business but if you have many followers, manage post and people take all the time and there is not any left for you do what you do best: business.

  94. Chris @ Rizzo Tees Says:

    Great post - sorry I called you out myself!

  95. Dazzling Dolly Lutz Says:

    Hi, Joel,
    I got a lot out of your Twitter Book and from being on your "list" for over 5 years. This is a great Article about Twitter and I fully agree. When I was "new" I got sooo excited to see a DM from someone, until I would see that it was obviously an Auto Message and really they were only trying to SELL me something......Now I rarely look at the DM and I may be missing a real person..........frustrating.
    Because My numbers aren't too high, I will manually Unfollow a bunch of names I can tell are companies and NOT real people. Tks for encouraging me to do that.

    Joel, I too am a Conservative Christian and am very happy that you speak your mind clearly....there is no doubt on where you stand and as we've seen in the News lately....being so "politically correct" has done us a lot of harm.

    I find it "funny" Christians often get accused of being intolerant, but it's okay for the non-religious people to force big businesses, advertisers etc to stop using the term CHRISTMAS.....I will NEVER stop using that term....it's so sad that children know more about Santa Claus, a fake person, than they do about the Lord Jesus CHRIST whose Birthday we celebrate on December 25th.
    Without Christ........there would be NO CHRISTmas.

    I apologize that I used your forum to state how I feel about this most serious problem in our western world today. The more we take God out of the equation......the worse things have become....any fool can see that.

    Keep up the good work in all areas, on and off line...there are many thousands who appreciate all you do and say.

    The Lord's Richest Blessings,
    and Happy Thanksgiving to you and all US Citizens,
    Your Internet Marketer Friend, Dazzling Dolly

  96. Bibi Says:

    I enjoyed this article. I've been trying to figure out how to use Twitter to work for me better. I have under 100 followers right now (I started recently), but I don't live on Twitter. I don't really care how many followers I have. I respond when there is something to respond to. I know people totally obsessed with Twitter and that's just sad.

  97. Steve Shepherd of @MobileCause and @GreenBusinesses Says:

    Kudos Joel! I've been very deliberate from the beginning about who I follow and routinely block spammers manually. Although @MOBILECAUSE is one of my projects, my most popular is @GREENBUSINESSES.

    Although I'm still working on the launch of my site GreenBusineses.com, I do find it wise to concentrate on a select community and have seen excellent results.

    As a side note, being in the GREEN movement and being a conservative Christian has been quite interesting! Blessings, brother! Let me know the next time you're in SoCal, I'd love to connect.

  98. Erika Lyremark Says:

    Joel, you are bad ass! And I love it. A personal mantra I say over and over again is "Eliminate to Illuminate, Eliminate to Illuminate,Eliminate to Illuminate, Eliminate to Illuminate" And it sounds like it's working for you too! - Erika

  99. David C. Cross Says:

    Hi Joel,
    Great post about cleaning up your Twitter account. I think that you are

    right to follow whom ever you want to follow. I have been on tour email list

    for a couple of years now and have always enjoyed and learned from what you have had to say.

    Keep up the good work.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
    David Cross

  100. eejam Says:

    I agree with you....to me, i'd rather have a quality follower and want to 'listen' to me...i keep following them but they are not following me...so i need unfollow them...That's the way to follow who you want..

  101. Eugenie Says:

    Great post - agree absolutely that it's completely pointless playing the Twitter #s game and the real value lies in sharing with people who listen and want to share something of worth in return. I only Tweet when I have something worth sharing - of my own or by way of a compelling RT.

    Anyone who spams me gets an instant Unfollow.

    Hugely admire all you do, and respect your personal views even though I don't share most of them! (You might look on climate change slightly differently if you'd just spent the last six weeks in the UK, BTW!!)

    Keep up the ace work and have a great holiday!

  102. Wolf Leonard Says:

    I've had a similar revelations in my personal evolution on Facebook, Google, Plaxo, Yahoo and elsewhere, nowhere near the scale of yours, but the lessons learned still apply. Other comments from your followers here are on target too. I haven't gotten into Twittering yet, but then, I'm still using DOS 3.1 (only kidding). Seriously, what I'm saying, is that I now tend to wait to see how things evolve. That will probably result in my never being an app guru such as yourself, and will never attract such a large following, so maybe that's a blessing. After all, there are only so many hours in the day and there seems to be so much competing for that precious time. You've got to put the brakes on sometimes or it will run you over. Thanks for helping me draw the line and clarify what has been rumbling around in my head for a while now.

  103. Tim Stone Says:

    I only follow people/groups that interest me. I can scan their posts quickly and dig deeper when I want. For this reason I have always enjoyed Twitter, even though I run it "lean".

    I may not agree with all your posts, but that is not necessary. I still enjoy your comments and will continue to follow ... you might even reply to a thought of mine ... still offered politely !

    Have a great deay of Thanksgiving.

  104. Gerald Says:

    Such an awesome post, Joel. I agree totally and am following suit. I hope we reconnect on Twitter, @gw3.

    Happy Holidays!


  105. Charly Leetham Says:


    This is a great post! I love the policy and love how you've phrased it.

    Some will say that marketing is all about the numbers, but it's really about quality numbers - and you've proven that with this move.

    Thank you for such great guidance.


  106. Gene Says:


    You've always been on the leading edge. And I think you've identified a problem begging for a solution. Now that social media tools have brought us fast and easy ways to make connections, we need new tools to make BETTER connections.

    Getting rid of all your followers is a brute force strategy, but what we really need are new tools to help us manage who we connect with and how we interact with them. I'll bet the folks at Twitter are already working on this.

    Meanwhile, thanks for keeping it real and honest.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    -Gene Chamson

  107. Forrest @themediadude Says:

    Hi Joel,

    ENJOYED! I do a lot of auto posting and auto follows and am ok sorting thru the SPAM. Some of the SPAM is quite enjoyable and informative. I've Also begun using the list feature to pull select people out and follow their streams. I use TweetDeck to sort followers, topics and keywords and as a results of my unorthodox social Tweeting I've made some very cool new friends, (some from SPAM posts to my STREAM). I like you have no problem being real, I love being a sales pro and most people who meet me on Twitter like you find I truly enjoy helping them in spite of SPAM or auto follows. Please SPAM and try to sell me your stuff I might learn something new and who knows you might learn something too. Thanks

  108. twicat.com Says:

    great article, great idea
    lots of spam going there,
    but also great tool

    Thank you

  109. Adrian Ling Says:

    Hi Joel,

    Excellent post! I admire your courage to press the big red button to "PURGE" all :-) I guess all those 'auto twits' got a shock eh?

    My last tweet was several months ago, and like you, I subscribe to twitter being just another tool which I use from time to time. No one to dictate how I should or shouldn't use twitter.

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful and blesssed Thanksgiving!


  110. dinesh Says:

    Interesting article. I got the feeling that you are irritated, angry. No doubt there are many many spammers on Twitter. They feel they are 'marketing' their product or services by sending out the same tweets again and again and again. That's the best way to annoy people!
    And you're absolutely on the dot when you say that you tweet when you want to like the free birds about things that interest you and maybe interesting for your followers.
    Thank you!

  111. Michey Says:

    Joel, I met you on Minneapolis at first Jeff's conference, yes, you are WYSIWYG, plus friendly, funny, family oriented, and talented business person.
    After reading this post I know that you have the courage of your convictions, you stay tall for what you believe in, you are an exception on Internet Marketing crowd, I am glad that I know a little more about you, as you really are a person to follow.
    I know what to do next.
    Regards and all the best for you and yours
    Happy Thanksgiving

  112. Dr.Mani Says:

    Joel, your experience is an EXACT copy of mine (except I took the steps you did a year back) and I shared them in a short story that I called "My Twitter Tale" - here:


    While I never impose my views on using Twitter on anyone else, I have personally found the strategy of "Follow Forty" has enhanced and enriched my Twitter experience immeasurably.

    Hope you have fun with your new approach too :-)

    All success

  113. Chen Says:

    Hi Joel,

    Yes, I agree that we should follow the person that we know each other.
    I got someone ask me how to have more follower?
    I feel uncomfortable with that question.
    In my opinion, social media should communicate to create new idea and not competing each other.


  114. K L Says:

    Less is more.

    And, Nothing is Everything.

  115. Melanie Jordan Says:

    Hi Joel,

    While I don't have the level of followers that's as unmanageable as yours was, I do follow back most legit people on Twitter, and I think it's within the reach of most Twitter users to review and vet their followers.

    You never know when someone you follow will turn out to be a valuable connection or referral source that benefits you personally or professionally down the line. So I figure if someone legitimately raises their hand and says they want to be a part of my world, why not follow them back as long as it's not a whacko or bogus/spam account?

    And even if someone isn't regularly interacting with you, I'm surprised all the time about how many people really are paying attention whether it's an amusing tweet or solid content I'm sharing. When you hit a note with them, you'll hear from them. And in the meantime, you never know where that follow-back might lead.

    Some of my best clients and fans have come from social media sites because I took a chance and accepted a connection, and in the case of Twitter, followed someone back. So I'm sticking with it.

    Melanie Jordan
    Author of "What You Know Is Worth More Than You Know!(TM)"

  116. Pete Moring Says:

    Hi Joel, great article and I totally sympathise with you. Twitter has been reduced to a spam-delivery service lately. (I've even jumped on that bandwagon a little myself - OOOPS!! :-(

    I've never auto-followed as that shouldn't even be allowed in my view, it just encourages the abusers. If you don't want to check out the individual profile of followers, then be-gone I think.

    As for your Christian right-wing views? .... Rock-on!!

    The world needs to wake up to the elusions subliminally implanted by the likes of Al Gore - and more :-(

    For those of us who still want to follow your Tweets, have you still maintained the same Twitter profile?

    See you in the Twitterverse Joel {:-))

    Pete Moring.

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  119. Martyn Says:

    Crikey! I came to the same decision on the same day but chose to start a fresh twitter account instead. I only found this post while trying to select those folk I really want to follow again.

    Make it a GREAT day!
    Kind Regards,

  120. sharyl Says:

    Candor is refreshing. Thanks, Joel.

  121. Ria Says:


    Great article! I am thankful that you wrote it. Although I choose to limit my Twitter usage, it has amazed me at how many notices I have received that someone is following me, only to find that they're account has been disabled due to their activity.
    Personally, I believe in being "one's self", I have found that if someone does not like it, they can keep moving.

  122. Winnetta Byford Says:

    You go, Joel! I have never met you but I find we share many of the same values. I, too, am a conservative Christian and love sweets. I really enjoy your blog and your tweets. Unfollow me if you want, but I will continue to follow you because you are real. Not like some of the "gurus" out there. Thanks for setting a great example. I may start over with my Twitter account as well.


  123. peter bordes Says:

    thank you for the real post. i have been trying to figure this out and have not found and tools to optimize my twitter. Twitter and Facebook have become weaved seemlesly into everything i do. but i have not found a way to re-align my community so that it is clean, clear and focused without all the noise.

    love to see a follow on post purge experience post. i am not there yet as i am so attached to the 2 years i have in building my community organically. i feel like i might need to go to social media AA

  124. Val Says:

    Hi Joel,

    For some time now I have been wondering just how useful Twitter is. I seldom visit my page and only see personal messages sent directly to me. I guess that is the truth for others too. So what is the point of thousands of followers all twittering into cyberspace?

    Going to purge my account right now and leave only people that I have some sort of relationship with.



  125. Derek Says:

    Hey Joel,

    I appreciate your post simply from the fact that it seems to be getting people to accept the QUALITY over quantity principle - it works in life, and it works on Twitter.

    I've had many a discussion with people about the idea of following someone just because they follow you - something I've ALWAYS disagreed with due to choosing quality over quantity in everything in my life - including Twitter.

    I've always limited the people I follow to those who I feel will add quality to my stream of information, not following others just because 'it was polite' or 'proper etiquette' (baloney!).

    Very people agreed with this approach a year ago, but now that the 'follow everyone' approach is finally bearing fruit (SPAM, information overload, useless information), I'm glad to see how quality has beat-out quantity once again - it always will! :)


  126. Bud Mitchell Says:

    Hi Joel,

    Right on, tweeting for the sake of numbers is ridiculous it is like trying to always be politically correct, it get's you in trouble long term and waste your time. Social Networking?????????????

  127. farizal Says:

    At 1st its fun to have online connection with old & new friends esp. people in the same industries or likeness. We send messages & comments or exchange info with each other but now... we get only rubbish & junks in our mailbox. It doesn't feel real anymore. Its like join, add people, post 1 or 2 comments, and forget. Next repeat same with new member that you dont even read their profiles or background or some cases you dont even visit his page at all.

  128. Robert Geczi Says:

    I agree with your post 100%. I also do things on my own terms, why accept anything less? This is your account, and you are a grown man for heaven's sake. It's time some people started growing up, and leaving their childhood thoughts and pouting at the door.

  129. David Husnian Says:


    I hear you and agree.

    From the beginning my approach has been to only follow people who I might be able to help or who might be able to help me (prefreably both).

    I use help broadly although it is more business related but I also use follow for personal reasons also.

    This whole thing about having lots of followers. Why? It's like having a big, unresponsive list -- even worse because of all the clutter and direct messages and pure junk.



  130. Vicki Bobotis Says:

    Awesome post. It makes perfect sense! It's a bit concerning that people would take being unfollowed so personally. Let's enjoy our time ... in life and on Twitter! :)

  131. EllisTweet Says:

    Hey Joel,
    Welcome to the more manageable side of Twittering. I follow less than 45 people myself, and I block others daily that I don't know or have an interest in learning from professionally.

    I don't use Twitter for personal pleasure. I mostly use it as a way to stay abreast of what some of the world's brighter business minds do and say. And, yes, for the record, I do follow you because I find your contributions valuable and your delivery style fresh.

    Thanks for the content you contribute out here in the vapors. Keep it up!

  132. Janeile Says:

    I LOVE it! Good for you, Joel! There are no rules that say you have to follow anyone back just because they follow you. And when YOU are the brand, there are no rules saying that you have to be this starchy, politically correct boob so that you don't offend anybody. Be yourself and let the chips fall where they may. For every person who unfollows you because they don't like your stand on say, global warming, two more people will follow you because they agree with you.

    I love following REAL people. I'm growing increasingly annoyed by the social media gurus who stay on topic while the world is burning up in flames all around them because they don't want to make an opinion that offends anyone. How does one claim to be "authentic" when they're talking about Google Chrome on Twitter and there are riots going on in the street outside their office?

    On that note, I hope you follow me (@Janeile) so that you have a friend in Toledo if you ever happen to stop by - would love to have you come talk here in 2010. ;)

  133. Chris brown Says:

    I've always been suspect of these people who claim they are "following" thousands of people; how can they possibly read that many messages in a day. I can understand the converse though, where thosands of people are following a single person, especially if the latter has some sort of celebrity status.

    I seem to get 3 or 4 people start following me a day - which I suspect are spam as I haven't "Tweeted" for about 3 months or more, (been busy scripting my websites via PERL!) The main reason for lack of activity is as above. How many people read all the tweets, and how many are simply placed in the spam folders?

    So personally, I don't think I'll be using the service THAT avidly ... until I get to be a celebrity, and people hang on my every word!!

  134. Brian Baulch Says:

    Hey Joel good on you mate for taking a bold move with your twitter list to reshape it for a more personal appeal, Joel lam look forward to your Twitter Power Book version 2 or what ever you choice to call it, happy twitting

  135. mohd ariff Says:

    Hi Joel,
    In life there is nothing that could be sustainable as for us to be forever.

    It's norm for us to do something & look for other things in life. Twitter, it isn't many people like, they do it for a while & many become dormant after get bored sometimes.

    You might be stop for a while but you have made enough.

    Looking forward in life is very important, no matter what you do & who you are? Nothing is enough to make us satisfied in life & we need to find the truth of all the truth that will make us satisfy forever.

    There is nothing we can find in this Universe to make us satisfy of what's we acquire, you need to find out as long as you live.

    Thanks for your great sharing.
    Best Regards

  136. Ed Wheeler Says:

    All I have to say is - awesome!

    I currently follow about 45 people, and the feed is confusing enough for me as it is! How people manage to somehow follow thousands is baffling to me!

  137. Brian Says:

    I've been following Joel's blog for just over a year now, so I am still new to the Internet Marketing world.

    But I finally feel the need to comment on this blog entry.

    Twitter is still new to this world as well. It's only in its infancy, relatively speaking. The owners of Twitter are still finding ways to improve the effectiveness of this new form of communication.

    The recent addition of "Lists" within your following, is just one new tool.

    I am following nearly 800 people on Twitter, many from widely varied backgrounds and industries. I am learning that I can better utilize my time on Twitter by incorporating these "lists". Some of the lists I make are set to "private" which simply means that only I see that group of people. Others are set to "public", so anyone who comes on my page can see and "follow" those groups if they so choose.

    I applaud Joel for trying to regain control of an overwhelming list, 73,000 following, but I want to encourage each of the people following Joel to investigate the tools Twitter is making available before blindly unfollowing all.

    I know there are other tools to assist in utilizing the Twitter Stream; TweetGlide, Tweetbeep, TweetDeck, etc..., but I am choosing to utilize the tools within Twitter itself.

    Thanks Joel for making this blog available to encourage people to manage their own information streams.


  138. Andrew Mueller Says:


    What you describe has been said many times before. It is a typical strategy. Follow back as many as possible and when you achieve a critical mass of followers...bulk unfollow. Although you will loose a bunch of followers by doing this the fact that you still will have a lot who don't pay attention or care if someone follows back. The impression of new users or people who are new to you, will still be," this guy is important (and may add value to my twitter experience) because he has xx,xxx number of followers and the retention of a large number of followers allows you to substantiate your claim to be a social media expert.

    Now, you may honestly have followed back because you sincerely felt this was the type of interaction that you wanted to have and just realized that this was a flawed strategy, but to me that does not resonate with your claim to be a social media expert.

    Please explain?


  139. Joel Says:

    Thanks for all the great comments!

    To answer Andrew, I never intended this to be my strategy. Just as I said in the article, my strategy has evolved. I don't know what my strategy will evolve into next.

    I now prefer the term "social media evangelist", rather than expert. How can anyone really be an expert in an area that is still relatively new and constantly changing?

    I am what I am, and I do what I think is best, regardless of what anyone else thinks.


  140. Andrew Mueller Says:

    Thanks Joel, that I can certainly understand. I guess it was your website header with "expert" so prominently proclaimed that threw me.


  141. Darius Says:

    Twitter is an interesting social phenomenon, one of those things that is just too ridiculous to not get insanely popular. Its one of those things that we all saw in the beginning, expected it to disappear in a few months, and now everyone is doing it. I say BLAH.

    I have a new name for twitter users, and I think this should become the official one: Twits.

    As if we didnt have enough disparate fragments of completely unrelevent data to sift through in the world, now we can fill ourselves with even more. I have never seen anything useful or life enriching be communicated in less than 140 characters.

    Unless its a quote by one of the greats. Heres one that you can all tweet:

    "There's a sucker born every minute." PT Barnum

    Happy Twitting!

  142. Martha Staley Says:

    How refreshing and very freeing! Thank You!

  143. Jonathan Wagner Says:

    Thank you. Twitter had become a pain... but if I only follow the ones I want to hear from it will be fun again. and I may even be worth following!

  144. DrDiane Says:

    Hi Joel...went back to read this post. I'm just knew with Twitter and I have already blocked 2 followers, because they just sent too many tweets. I'll still check their twitter site but they were just taking over all the others. So now everyone is more or less evened out. Read Twitter Power but was still left with many questions that I can't find answers for anywhere. Some I kind of figured out. But can't understand for example why nobody answers questions. Why, when and how to create/use "list". When someone is not following you, can you still @reply on their twitter site... these are just some questions. Anyway following you, thanks for the knowledge.

  145. John Soares Says:

    Joel, some very good advice on how to use Twitter properly. I've just started using it, although I've been on Facebook and LinkedIn for a while.

  146. Rosalind Gardner Says:

    Hey Joel,

    Congrats on finding that 'I will follow who I want to follow because I want to follow them' place.

    So much more peaceful and useful. I can't even cope with following a relatively 'small' number and trying to do so just leaves me frazzled --- time better spent otherwise.

    Thanks for sharing!


  147. Anthony Says:

    Hi joel, not exactly sure about management.. but i guess following others who matter to you is fine.. at the same time if the 83k gang u had wanted to follow u because they found somethin imp. in your tweets (like i usually do)that works out pretty good 2.. there aint a norm that you got 2 follow every tom dick and harry who follows you.. BR.

  148. Mandee Says:

    Joel, I support you in your decision. You were one of my very first followers and I followed you right from the beginning. After watching your tweets for a while, I purchased your book which I'm in the middle of reading right now. Even though the "great purge" may upset some, I don't in any way think it is personal and I intend to continue following your tweets. Should you decide to follow me again...well, that would be cool. :)

  149. Marna Thall Says:

    I agree with this. You've inspired me to go through my thousands of people I'm following and really nail down who I want to follow so that I can truly find people I'm inspired by and interested in. This is much more in alignment with who I am and I "get this". I thought the point was to get as many people as I could sign up - but I find that I have a little to no relationship with these people...who wants that? I want meaningful and helpful connections! I'll get on this tomorrow. Thank you!

  150. Terry Hepola Says:

    Joel, It's great to see someone come out and tell it like it is. When i first joined Twitter I searched Amazon for books on how to best use it. Twitter Power was my book of choice. Unfortunately, when I started following others it began to look like a game to see who could get the most followers. A game that didn't seem to make any more sense than dialing random phone numbers just to share famous quotations. Personally, Twitter has a place in my life and business, however 80,000+ followers don't.

    Carry on!

  151. Ellen L "jemyl" Johnson Says:

    Hi Joel,

    I agree with all you have said. Even as a diabetic, Type II, I still like sugary foods. I have learned when to eat them and when to pass. Thank goodness it is the starches which affect my blood sugar levels more than do straight sugars. Lucky me!

    I only have a little over 1000 followers on Twitter. I also quite auto-following everyone a couple of months back. I check their profiles and if they are interesting, don't keep retweeting the same message and only selling, and/or are into something I am also into, I follow them. I also rarely follow someone who is brand new to Twitter i.e. has only one or three tweets.

    I am too cheap to spend the $25 to purge everyone. Still, I find it hard to keep up with some of the people I really want to read. I think I will have to learn to really use Tweetdeck or maybe some lists to organize my followers better. Right now, working to find a way to drive some traffic to my jewelry sites occupies most of my time.

    As for global warming, I also agree with you. What always gets to me is that those who are pushing it seem to forget that we have no idea of how the climate of this earth changes over eons. We only know what we have studies, for a very short time at that. I think it is absolute pompous egotism for us to then presume to be able to predict what will happen in the future.

  152. salah Says:

    Pulling a John Chow.You know your going to get some slack for doing it, just like he did.


  153. Henrik Blunck - Denmark Says:

    Hi Joel

    Spot on. Excellent article, and you're absolutely right.
    It's so easy to get caught up in numbers when it should be good relations that matter.

    So grateful for stating your case so clearly. Keep up the good work.

    Seasonal greetings to you and your family - and the great team at WorldVillage, Infomedia etc. :-)

  154. QuinnCreative Says:

    From the very beginning, I knew it wasn't about numbers, but quality. Just like real life. You'll love it. The people you follow will be a community of information and knowledge. Sure beats "Good night Tweeple. See you tomorrow," one of the saddest comments I've ever read.

  155. Brian Walker Says:

    Hi Joel,

    Great article.

    I have a question. Do you "truly" see Twitter as a viable marketing and promotional tool for young, start-up companies eager to build their brands?

    We definitely have solid examples of Twitter bringing us in contact with people that we would have otherwise never met, but to what extent does this translate into actual brand building and sales for small businesses?

    In the context of brand building, does it not make sense to accumulate as many targeted followers as possible?

    Thanks in advance for any reply you can muster.

  156. David Track Says:

    Great post, Joel! I've been meaning to read this for awhile (been crazy busy), and I am glad I did. Someone had to say it, and you said it perfectly! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    David Track

  157. Kevin Martyn Says:

    Joel I think you're right!

    Too many people play the I'll follow you if you follow me game on twitter, I certainly do. Right now my twitter account is approximately 13,500 followers, and I'm following 14,500 people. However, in truth I only follow 30 of 40 people who I really respect within the business via tweetdeck, and often either read, retweet or comment on their tweets as they come in.

    It's the same with Facebook, I have hundreds of Facebook friends but in fact only monitor a further 20 or 30 individuals who interest me, and that I have some in common with.

    So why do I do it?

    For me I suppose much of it comes down to social proof! If you have thousands of followers and friends then wow! ...you must be popular and worth looking at!

    Also, the more social bookmarking I do, the more traffic I seem to drive to my site.

    My Google analytics tell me that a respectable percentage of my traffic comes via twitter or Facebook! So recently I tried a little experiment. I asked my twitter followers to go to a particular link and tell me what they thought of the article I had written. Surprisingly, the results were interesting, although quite a low percentage when compared to my number of followers, I can get between 50 and 200 people to my site per request and that's really worth doing.

    In the future however, I also may purge my account, or more likely start a second account and ask followers who have an original interest in me and my topic to switch their focus to this account, and in return I will only follow the people who really interest me.

  158. Kylene Says:

    Thank you for sharing these resources! My # following got a little out of control when I started following the lists I am on. Now I know not to automatically follow every list. :)

    I am really enjoying Twitter Power! Excited to hear the 2nd edition will be out this spring.


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Joel Comm is an Internet entrepreneur who has been online for over 20 years. In 1995, Joel launched WorldVillage.com, a family-friendly portal to the web which enjoys thousands of visitors each day. Joel is the co-creator of ClassicGames.com, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 1997, and now goes by the name Yahoo! Games. Since then, Joel's company, InfoMedia, Inc., has launched dozens of web sites which offer online shopping, free stuff, website reviews and more. Joel is the author of many popular books, including the NY Times Best-Seller, The AdSense Code. He regularly makes appearances at Internet marketing conferences and seminars.
FTC Disclaimer: Posts written before December 1st, 2009 may include endorsements of products or services that include a material connection to the author. Readers should assume a material connection for any product or service endorsed prior to December 1, 2009.