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Summary:

One of my “vacation” projects was to do some Twitter housecleaning. I needed to unfollow a lot of people who weren’t following me on one of my accounts. Twitter, as you know, provides no built-in options for filtering followers, mass unfollowing, or mass reciprocating (following people […]

One of my “vacation” projects was to do some Twitter housecleaning. I needed to unfollow a lot of people who weren’t following me on one of my accounts. Twitter, as you know, provides no built-in options for filtering followers, mass unfollowing, or mass reciprocating (following people who follow you). When you get past a certain number of people, trying to manage followers through Twitter can make you want to scream.

I have one account that I essentially use to deliver content to a special interest group. I manually search for people who might be in this group using a saved keyword search in Tweetie. What I do is follow them just to let them know the account is there. If they’re interested, I figure they’ll follow back. And I don’t do this aggressively — only a few people a month. (Read Twitter’s rules/recommendations for acceptable follow practices.)

After a while, I had a buildup of people I had followed but who hadn’t followed back. And because Twitter won’t let me follow more than 2,000 people, and this keyword search technique is how I get the word out about the account, I can’t waste follows.

So this morning I did a Google search on “mass unfollow,” and found a few tools that would unfollow everybody who wasn’t following you. The problem was that they didn’t allow you to pick and choose, and there were a few of those tweeps I wanted to hang onto. So I did another search for “selective unfollow” and found Tweepi, “the first and only Twitter follow management with stats.” To quote the developer, it’s “very much a beta,” but it did what I needed and more, with a perfectly intuitive UI that required zero learning curve.

Selective Unfollowing

First, I needed to go through over 200 non-followers to decide who would get the axe. So I chose “Cleanup” and got a table that looked like this:

The “Friend?” column showed both people I was following who weren’t following back and “mutual friends.” I wasn’t axing any of the latter, so I clicked on the header of the “Friend?” column to sort the accounts. Then all you have to do is check the checkbox on the right and when you’re done with that page, click “UnFollow Selected.” You can only see 20 accounts at a time (it goes up to 40 if you tweet about Tweepi!), but even though I had to do 60 pages of this, it didn’t actually bother me at all.

Clicking the avatar at left takes you to the user’s Twitter page, but you shouldn’t have to do that. You can also customize the columns to show the info you need to make your decision:

Selective Reciprocating

Then, because I have other things going on in my life besides Twitter (as I’m sure you do too) and I don’t necessarily check out new followers the instant I get notified of a follow, I also had a buildup of people who’d followed the account but whom I hadn’t followed back. For this I chose “Reciprocate,” which showed me only these people, and I went through another 30-some pages, deciding whom I should follow back.

Safelisting

One of the nicest touches is the “Safelist” feature. You know those tweeps I said I wanted to hang onto? I can click the plus sign at the right of their stats row, which protects them if I ever get in a bad mood and decide to do an indiscriminate mass unfollow, which Tweepi lets you do with its “Flush” feature.

Geeky Follow

This is an experimental feature that suggests people you might want to follow based on various criteria. I didn’t test it, so if you do, let us know how it worked for you in the comments.

Not That Much of a Beta

The app did hang up about halfway through my unfollowing process, but when that happened, Tweepi displayed a progress message and provided a link to “safe mode,” which instantly unhangs the app and puts you right back where you were, so it wasn’t an issue.

I recommend this app for those of you who use Twitter for business purposes. And be sure to give the developers feedback so they can make it even better.

What third-party Twitter tools do you use?

  1. Why do you say that twitter won’t let you follow more than 2,000 people? I wasn’t aware that there was such limits, so low. I’ve seen lots of accounts with more than 20,000 following and followers. Thanks for sharing your lights :)

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  2. Another online tool that will let you do a mass unfollow is Huitter. You can select the free manual option or go for the paid version and it will do it for you automatically.

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  3. Hi CLaueR.

    If you click the link to Twitter’s rules/recommendations on follow practices in the post above, you can read about limits. Yes, there are ways to get past 2000, depending on follower/following ratio and other things.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  4. Hi Neill.

    I looked at Huitter, which was the one that I saw mentioned the most for mass unfollows. But their site doesn’t inspire confidence, it’s not clearly written (not hard to find a native English speaker in the Web 2.0 world who will help you out with grammar for free), and they don’t appear to allow selective unfollowing, which is what I needed.

    Thanks!

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  5. This is a good explaination. And I would like post to share, and hope your idea would
    followed.

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  6. I tried the geeky follow. It works great.

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  7. [...] spiffy new design, BTW, check it out). One was about how to use a great little app called Tweepi to manage all your followers and followees on Twitter, and the other was about what to do when you are in over your head on a  project. I seem to write [...]

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  8. I have used Tweepi and I loved its interface. Specially Geeky flush feature is what I like the most..
    Recommended software….

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