I had the experience recently of unfollowing someone on Twitter. He has about 800 followers, is following 400. A few days later, he unfollowed me. (I’ve had this experience several times in the past as well, which is why I checked.) My question is this: how did he know it was me? Barring him visiting my profile and noticing specifically, which is always a possibility, is there a tool you can use that alerts you who unfollows you? Or do people like that keep a list and crosscheck every time they lose a follow? This is something I’ve been wondering about for a while… thanks for your time! – Amélie
There are quite a tools that will help a user monitor who unfollows them on Twitter. Here are four I’ve tried, so I know they are reliable:
For some people, Twitter is a place of enlightenment, where the joys, sorrows, and intelligence of the world arrive on our personal screens faster than seismic waves (literally), a place where we may even make meaningful professional connections who help us do our jobs better.
For other people, Twitter is simply another weapon in their selfishness arsenal, a place where relationships are only as valuable as the other person’s ability to help them (or their career). I am being a little extreme, but only a little: case in point, #TeamFollowBack, the meaningless practice of promising to follow back all of one’s followers.
I don’t monitor my unfollows, so I don’t unfollow people who unfollow me on Twitter–and probably wouldn’t even if I knew they’d hit the unfollow button. I follow people because I find their tweets interesting or educational, not because I want them to follow me back and rack up my follower count. It turns out a great many people on Twitter share my approach:
— Kristin Swartzlander (@kswartzlander) September 4, 2012
— DeeDee (@deedee173) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany If you get value from their tweets, keep following. Don’t take it personally. Everyone uses Twitter differently.
— Lynn Stevens (@peoplingplaces) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany No I continue to follow them because I followed them for their tweets not to get a follow back.
— Chet Thaker (@chetthaker) September 4, 2012
— Jay M. Oza (@5ToolGroup) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany I don’t unfollow them. I follow people because I enjoy their tweets,not out of some social obligation like Facebook-friending
— Palu Esgla (@pcsegal) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany All about what type of content they offer. Breaking twitter down to small-town politics is short-sighted.
— Daniel Regan (@jabbercreative) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany I take little notice of who follows/unfollows. My stream is for me.Unfollowing can be for valid reason. Each to their own.
— Rebecca Smith (@becs355) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany I keep following them, slightly hurt though:)
— sarah grossi (@sarahgrossi) September 4, 2012
That said, I suspect many people on Twitter who “unfollow back” did not want to out themselves to me in public, and that there are a many Tweeters who, as you have observed, engage in that practice. A few people did explain to me why they “unfollow back”:
@anjalimullany Often I follow people out of politeness from them following me even if their content isn’t relevant. If they unfollow, me too
— AJ Munafo (@AJ_Mufasa) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany it depends. If I was only following out of courtesy, yes.If I like their tweets/ content, no.
— Freedom (@FreedomReeves) September 4, 2012
Okay, fair enough. I don’t “courtesy follow” anyone, but I can imagine professional circumstances in which it’s more awkward to not follow someone back–like a colleague, or a business contact–than it is to just follow them back out of politeness. I can also imagine circumstances under which one would not want to see one’s ex’s tweets in their stream:
@anjalimullany If it’s someone who I know & am interested in what they have to say, I continue to follow. Unless it’s a break up!
— Alan Adams (CIC) (@AlanCIC) September 4, 2012
Of course, unfollowing back because you realize the person who unfollowed you was annoying/mean/boring/overwhelming/offensive/etc, seems quite reasonable to me, as well:
@anjalimullany If I like your content, I’ll follow. If your content is relentless or boring, I won’t follow.
— Brandon Marshall (@TNBrando) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany I’ll keep following them if I benefit from their perspective, connections, etc. Gen’ly, I unfollow if they do 10 tweets n 30s
— Jimmy Locklear (@J5locklear) September 4, 2012
Some people take unfollows personally, which leads to them unfollowing back. I don’t think they should, but far be it from me to dismiss the legitimacy of another person’s feelings:
@anjalimullany I usually unfollow them as well. But I’m a bitter, spiteful Twitter-er.
— Alex J. Martin (@amartinmedia) September 4, 2012
@anjalimullany I usually unfollow out of spite, but only after I’m done crying into my “Why don’t people like me?” journal.
— Jillian Sederholm (@JillianSed) September 4, 2012
It’s worth noting that some people expect to be unfollowed back:
@anjalimullany I don’t always follow back or unfollow back. It depends on who it is. I expect ppl to unfollow me if I unfollow though. :-/
— ro | c | o (@RoarCio) September 4, 2012
Nevertheless, take heed, Fast Company Twitterers: in general, your Agony Aunt finds the concept of serial unfollow back-ing silly and antithetical to the whole point and culture of the Twitterverse. Maybe it’s like that saying, “An unfollow for an unfollow will make the whole world followerless.” Or something like that.
P.S.: Whatever you do, don’t do this (even though it’s a good song):
@anjalimullany I park my car in front of their house and blast “in your eyes” until they decide to follow me again
— causerconsulting (@builditup) September 4, 2012
[Image: Flickr user Kat Selvocki]
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