Culling is usually only required when natural selection, or more precisely nature itself, fails to control relative populations of species in an ecosystem.
It’s either natural selection or culling.
One or t’other.
Well I’ve used both to reduce the number of people I follow on Twitter.
One of my favourite ever clients, a lovely lady from Belfast, used to tell me to “catch yourself on” whenever I wasn’t getting it in her eyes.
And I had a “catch yourself on” moment earlier this year when thinking about Twitter in the context of me in social spaces.
It’s so so easy to get sucked in to watching and nurturing your follower count. But when I stepped back and thought about how Twitter has worked, when it has worked at its best for me, it has very little to do with quantity and almost everything to do with quality.
Following the right people (regardless of whether they follow back).
Sharing the right kind of content from the right kind of people.
At the right frequency.
Having the right conversations.
Building relationships beyond Twitter, be that at real life events or via RSS and blog comment threads.
Indeed I wrote a post back in January about the relevance of RSS to me, which got me thinking about the strength of ties in social spaces rather than just the number of ties.
Cutting to the chase, I’ve reduced the number of people I follow from 968 to 770 in the space of a few weeks.
Here’s how that process looks when charted by Twitter Counter.
That’s a 20% reduction in the number of “friends”.
A 20% cull.
In fact the actual number culled is higher than this because I’ve continued to follow new, interesting people throughout this period. 20% is the net reduction.
And, as mentioned above, I did this the hard way but the right way.
Natural selection, for which read quality control or survival of the fittest for purpose.
Natural selection was a relatively painstaking manual process, as a result of which I’ve had a close look at every single person or organisation that I was following.
Would I miss their content?
Have I “engaged” (ugh!) with them?
Was I likely to want to engage with them?
In some, but very few, cases were they still active?
I never made a decision to unfollow based on whether anyone was following me.
It took quite a while but it was an enlightening and highly worthwhile exercise.
No disrespect but God I was following some dross.
The proportion of practitioners and originators amongst the people I’m now following is much higher than it was.
The proportion of theory-mongers and self-styled gurus much lower (tending to zero in the case of the latter).
I assumed that I’d suffer a significant reduction in the number of people following me as a result of this exercise, on the basis that a fair few people would be actively tracking and monitoring and maybe even automatically reciprocating for unfollows.
(I’ve never been bothered with that level of “sophistication” myself.)
Here is what has actually happened.
The scale of this graph is not the same as the one above but there has been a 1% drop in followers from the peak to today.
20% reduction in “friends’, 1% reduction in followers. Anyone had a similar or markedly different experience to this?
This has been a valuable exercise on a number of counts.
- It’s no bad thing to step back and think about what you’re doing in these spaces once in a while.
- The laborious process of manually reviewing everyone I was following was enlightening and instructive in all sorts of ways.
- This naturally selective cull has acted as a catalyst for a number of other developments. These include some thinking on how I can make better use of Twitter lists (I’ve tended to use Tweetdeck columns as a surrogate for lists proper). And I’ve had a similar spring clean of the blogs to which I subscribe via RSS.
Everyone has their own personal answer to “what is Twitter for?”
And that answer probably evolves over time.
That evolution can lead to a discrepancy between your objectives and your actions. It did for me anyway.
Have you asked yourself the question recently?