And two events clearly illustrated this for me yesterday:
1 – I went to ManageFlitter.com to see how many people I am following that aren’t following me. I was following almost 3,000 people that were NOT following me. This really worried me because the main reason I use Twitter is as a way to connect with others and have conversations with them. By following those 3,000 people that have no interest in seeing my tweets, it’s making it far more difficult for me to connect with the people that DO want to chat with me. I don’t like that.
2 – I have about 600 people in my Circles in Google Plus. I started looking at the people I have in my circles and realized that half of them I didn’t have the faintest idea who they were. I’ve already lost control of my network on Plus after less than a week!
One of the things I have constantly wrestled with was how to scale as the size of my networks grow on these social media sites. I have always been really strict about who I follow on Facebook, and even now I only have about 600 friends and have been there about 3 years. But on Twitter I follow over 16K people. I’ve always wondered in a rush to expand our networks, if we aren’t really stifling our ability to actually connect with people.
So I’ve decided to do a bit of an experiment. On Plus I am going to be super-picky who I follow, and only follow people that are close friends and/or people I know and have met in real life. Complete contrast to how I manage followers on Twitter.
The idea is to test two different approaches: Is it better to try to have mostly platonic connections with thousands of people like I do on Twitter (with the hope that some might develop into deeper connections), or have deeper connections with only a few people, and let your network grow only by bringing in closer connections, like I have on Plus.
Man this social media stuff can get complicated! How do y’all manage your online networks? Do you have different approaches for different sites? Am really fascinated in how we scale (or attempt to scale!) our ability to communicate online.
@juliacantor I’m ok with being in the same group with you 😉
I completely identify! I am constantly re-evaluating my strategy for maintaining a solid network on Twitter and recently changed my Twitter list structure. I often use oneforty to find good tools to help manage and “clean up” my networks, but it is constantly evolving!
I haven’t entered the Google Plus world yet, but I’m sure that will open a whole new can of worms (sometimes I can be resistant to change:)
@MackCollier I liked your post. I agree with you.My FB is SUPER private and ONLY friends/family. Twitter is more about learning/news etc..
@Carolynastar1 Thank you! Yes I am going to try with Plus to have smaller networks and deeper connections, Twitter is more catch-all
@juliacantor oneforty I think I get in trouble on Twitter because I tend to follow anyone that RTs or replies to me. I need to stop doing that, just because they RTed or replied to me once does not mean they want to talk to me from now on. Even if I tweet with a Southern accent 😉
It’s interesting because apparently Google Plus is going to open up to everyone in 6 weeks. We were talking there today how would people manage their networks on Plus? Would they follow as many people there? Try to use hashtags? Would you have accounts that just sent out quotes? Will be interesting to see, and I can’t wait to see you there 😉
@LisaPetrilli I think in my case it means I follow too many people that I really don’t know, keeping me from connecting with the ones I do
@MackCollier @LisaPetrilli Mack, finding that Twitter lists & using tools like HootSuite/TweetDeck make it easier to engage more people
@MackCollier @lisapeteilli so that is why I do not follow everyone back- just ones that interact 😉
My strategies are evolving all the time, partly to deal with this conundrum. Once we have true stratification (Plus looks like a step in that direction with Circles) AND some kind of central hub for contact management across platforms, the trouble will ease. I hope!
@MackCollier I look forward to hearing the results of your experiment; wondering if you’ll feel there’s something you’re missing out on
@SMIBarry Yes using Lists here helps, but if you follow thousands, the All Friends column/area is still all but useless.
@MackCollier I am checking out @ManageFilter right now because of your post!
@mackcollier hi Mack, saw your packrat article via RT by @lttlewys + @josepf. Just introducing and look forward to more reading of your blog
@mackcollier I only follow about a thousand and its pretty useless. lol
@ericrovner Ohh, Eric, have u not met @MackCollier?? I’m a huge #Fangirl & lucky enuff to be a friend as well!! You must check out #BlogChat
@StaceyEBurke Thank you darlin’, I’m a packarat offline, I guess I should be one online as well 😉
@StaceyEBurke Are you on Plus yet? If so, what do you think?
@SteveWoodruff I was just on the phone with Lionel Menchaca and we were talking about Plus and Facebook. We both agreed that Plus could take off with the social media ‘techies’, but the moms and pops will likely stay on Facebook. Which means we’ll need to use BOTH if we want to stay connected to everyone.
I just want one place where ALL the people I want to connect with are present. But I don’t think that will happen. Or maybe the answer is a ‘dashboard’ that will pull in all our networks from elsewhere? I dunno.
@SMIBarry LOL and there ya go.
Mack, I don’t know how you keep it all straight? It sounds like a full-time job just sifting through all of the requests. i am proud to say that I follow you on Twitter and look forward to #blogchat when I am not working. Miriam
@mim.gomberg Miriam I turned off following notifications a couple of years ago. My guess is on most days I gain 40 followers and probably lose 20. Usually from the same group 😉
@lttlewys oh boy, another great group to follow? I don’t think my comp has enough memory to keep TweetDeck open with all these columns 🙂
@MackCollier Love the packrat analogy. Maybe someday there will be a “Hoarders: Social Media Edition.”
I’m interested in what you find Mack, this has been on my mind a lot lately.
Why do you think this is an either/or equation? I believe that the best networks are both deep and wide–though not always in the same “circle.” There are places where we want or need deeper connections: family, friends, trusted colleagues that we count on for smarts, to bounce ideas off, and occasionally to (metaphorically) slap us back to reality. But it’s our wide networks that take us out of our echo chambers and can lead to serendipitous connections, challenge our assumptions, and bring new friendships that we would never find if we just hung out with our old pals.
Hi Mack! I like this post. I also like the tool you used to clean your Twitter house. I got rid of some unnecessary baggage. I was also excited to see some people I respect and strongly follow/listen to following me back. I have not gotten into strategic management of my social media accounts, thinking they would normalize on their own, but I am starting to rethink this approach.
@StaceyEBurke Hey Stacey! I need to use tools like that to clean up my Twitter network more often. But every time I do I always find a few people that I am following have unfollowed me. I feel like I’ve been dumped 😉 But then again this is probably a byproduct of having too many platonic connections instead of deeper ones.
I’ve been cleaning out my Twitter follows, the unfollow button getting a healthy workout. Clearing out those who haven’t tweeted in a long time, a lot of the feeds and bots are gone, not going to follow a news stream that’s not about engagement. Like you said, it’s not just that someone isn’t following me back it’s also about clearing out the clutter so I can pay better attention to those who are engaging with me in return. There are of course some I follow that will stay no matter what, just b/c of the value they share to my day.
I treat the networks separately, it’s different audiences. Sure there’s a little crossover – esp. in Twitter and LinkedIn friends, and yet I don’t always share the same content the same ways with those audiences. Scaling it down.. I don’t have your numbers so it’s different, I’m looking for smart growth, happy to add people to my networks that are relevant to me, and me helpful to them (hopefully). FWIW.
@beaustanley It’s almost like we have a mindset that we are collecting baseball cards instead of followers sometimes…
@dariasteigman Daria I think it can be both. I don’t think our time spent on a social media site has to accomplish ONE set goal, but I think we need to have one overarching goal that take precedence over all others. Mine is connecting with other people, especially via conversation. I’m not sure if wide and shallow or thin and deep accomplishes that better.
And in the end, it might be a question of what works best for ME, your mileage may vary. And with social media, it usually does 😉
@MackCollier oh yes…cyber hoarder. Ugh
@MackCollier “In the end, it might be a question of what works best for ME, your mileage may vary.” I think that’s the key that everyone has to remember. We’re not robots, so how you choose to engage really comes down to what you’re trying to accomplish and the best way for YOU (or me) to do that.
It’s no different from our offline relationships, so I don’t know why so many people (not you) make it so complicated.
Great post Mack. A few things I have done to help include creating a Facebook page to separate my professional and personal networks. I haven’t tapped into the full potential of the that quite yet, but I already like how it’s shaping up. Twitter is a whole ‘nother animal. I don’t usually get too worried about the numbers as I use lists to curate the information I actually want to consume. One tool I’ve found useful is ReFollow.com which can identify Twitter users on a variety of criteria to potentially unfollow. I especially like the filter based on whether a user has tweeted within the past X amount of days. I usually cut the fat of those that haven’t tweeted in 90 days. So many people come and go, and it’s a great way to get rid of dead accounts.
RT @mackcollier: I’ve diagnosed myself as being a social media packrat. Are you one? – http://t.co/ZFin5iB
@MackCollier (Re: “packrat”) I think of myself as a “SM purveyor of fine collectibles” …chek’d last week and found 6K non-followers. 🙁
@skarritt yeah I need to prune unfollowers but hate checking to see who has ‘dumped’ me. 😉
@MackCollier @StaceyEBurke I get the same feeling. Like uh wait I liked you and we have communicated for a little while now and you “dumped” me without notice? Awkward! BUT, I generally believe that it is a lack of understanding of Twitter lists. I have a private list “Stacey’s To Watch” that has about 320 users I really follow. Other than that, I don’t “see” anyone else. But I can still follow them. I think less familiar users don’t realize they can keep the follow and thus the connection but turn off the “noise.”
@MackCollier Even though it’s $20 a month (ugh), I’ve been using ReFollow. It makes it REALLLY easy to find and purge them.
@MackCollier Agreed. And, ironically, thanks for the follow last week!
@skarritt @MackCollier I use twunfollow. Sometimes I get sad.
@StaceyEBurke Yes lists definitely help and I love Plus’s Circles. But I hate that my All Friends feed is filled with all these people on Twitter that I have no idea who they are or how/why I followed them. Again, a lot of it is me being a packrat 😉
@MackCollier A talent competition on MySpace like American Idol, hence MySpace Idol.
Haven’t you already completed 3 years of this ‘experiment’? You say you were very picky about your Facebook friends. I’m curious to see how your Facebook connections differ from your Twitter connections, and if your Facebook connections are indeed, ‘deeper’.
Like a lot of people, I constantly struggle with keeping my Twitter follow list manageable. Those I follow tend to fall into two catagories: those I interact with often (I have them in a list so I can just see their tweets if I’m short on time) and those I follow for news and information, like CNN or people who are tops in their field. I cull these lists too, but not as often as I should. I’m thinking of scheduling 20 min. or so once a month to do this so I won’t let the list get too cumbersome.