The #FollowAugust experiment explained.
When my son turned 13, he got a Twitter account. When he asked me who I follow, I said, “Everybody who follows me and then some.” But when I looked more closely at my Twitter profile, I realized that my follower list was not appropriate for a 13-year-old’s eyes. By virtue of following back those who followed me, I ended up following bots, spammers, and/or porn accounts.
I felt dirty.
On July 1, 2009, I had about 27,000 followers on Twitter and was following 24,000. That day, I launched the #FollowAugust experiment where I started unfollowing people at the rate of 1000 per day. My goal was not only to get rid of the junk but also to only follow those accounts that I actually follow. Today, nearly months after starting the experiment, I follow 263 and have about 15,000 followers.
During the experiment, I locked my account (to prevent new followers) and greatly scaled back my tweeting. Most of my tweets were Google Reader shared items published via FriendFeed. I have a <href=”http://www.giantpeople.com/1090.html”>drawing that explains my social networking setup.
Here are my Twitter stats during the #FollowAugust experiment.
|Date||Following||Followers||Tweets||DMs||Follow Requests||@grader Score||@twitterank Score|
|Change||-23737, -99%||-11,662, -43%||+537, 9.25/day||+13, 0.2/day||+802, 30/day||-0.40||-29.36|
A few things jump out at me. Both @grader and @twitterank value high following counts. While I was on vacation, I did not tweet, and it’s clear that @twitterank also values constant activity. It also appears that most of the people who queued up to follow me (while my account was locked) promptly unfollowed me after I failed to follow back.
The bottom line: after unfollowing everybody and refollowing a select few, I lost 43% of my followers. But I kept 57%, so the glass is (more than) half full.
True, I have lost some of my Twitter “authority,” but I also feel like I have regained my Twitter virginity. At the very least, I can show the list of folks I’m following to my kids without fear of embarrassment.
- 2009-07-04 – How I Tweet: Just the FAQs (interview with Guy Kawasaki)
- 2009-07-03 – Should Twitter Crack Down on Pornography?
- 2009-07-03 – 8 Talking Points On Twitter Follower-Building Tools
- 2009-07-02 – Marketers Call For Twitter To Filter Content For Pornography, Spam
- 2009-07-01 – Want More Twitter Followers? Break Out Your Wallet
- 2009-06-30 – Twitter Follower-Building Services – Gain Numbers, Lose Respect?
- 2009-06-30 – http://tweetspinner.com is a tool for Twitter spammers.
- 2009-06-30 – Twitter Revamps Following and Followers Pages
- 2009-06-30 – FriendOrFollow.com Helps Find Snobs And Spammers: These Are Mine [NSFW]
- 2009-06-25 – The Twitter Cycle: Curiosity, Abandonment, Addiction. Global Visitors Hit 37 Million.
- 2009-06-25 – 8 Ways To Find Relevant Followers On Twitter
- 2009-06-19 – Dear Wanna-bes, Your Twitter Stardom is Coming to an End
- 2009-06-01 – New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets
- 2008-10-23 – How ‘Follower Spam’ Infiltrated Twitter – and How to Stop It