Why I Unfollowed 55,000 Twitter Users

Today, I made the decision to clean out my Twitter following list and start over. I was following over 55,000 users at the start of the day. That has been reduced to less than 100. Here’s why I unfollowed over 55,000 tweeters.

You Can’t Really Follow 55,000 People

Let’s be honest here. It’s impossible to follow 55,000 people. My Twitterfon app for my iPhone became unusable because it always crashed trying to download all the tweets. What ended up happening is I just ignored my main Twitter feed and just read the replies. Anyone who claims they can follow 55,000 users is either lying or spends 18 hours a day in front of Twitter to watch the tweets go by like a stock ticker.

My Direct Messages Contained Nothing But Spam

I’ve stop checking my direct messages because it was all DM spam. I came very close to deleting the Direct Message column in my HootSuite because out of 100 DMs, there would be 1 true direct message if I was lucky. I knew this would continue as long as I maintain the policy of following everyone who followed me.

Since I’m no longer auto following people who follow me, I’m happy to report that I’ve only received one direct message in the past 8 hours and it was a real direct message. My DM column is useful again!

You Can Still Send Me @ Replies

Just because I’m no longer following you doesn’t mean you can’t talk to me. You don’t need other Twitter users to follow you in order to send them an @ reply. You just can’t send them a DM, which is no big deal since no one reads DM anyways because of all the spam!

I Wasn’t Scared Of Losing Followers

I started the day with nearly 60,000 followers. I’ve lost over 10,000 followers since my mass pruning. Am I worried about that? Not at all. If the only reason those people were following me was because I was following them, then I don’t want them to follow me. You should follow me because you want to hear what I have to say, not because I will follow you back.

Most of the unfollows were done the same way as the follow: using automated scripts. Chances are, most of the people who own those Twitter accounts didn’t even know they unfollowed me. For them, Twitter is just a place to do DM spam and that means doing a lot of auto following and unfollowing.

My Twitterfon Works Again!

This was a big one. While I can separate my list into group while on my desktop, there wasn’t such a solution for the iPhone. Yes, there was TweetDeck for iPhone but it sucks and is full of bugs. My favorite iPhone Twitter app is Twitterfon and it would take up to 10 minutes to download all the new tweets from the 55,000 users I was following. Most of the time, it would just crash.

Now that I’m following less than 100 people, Twitterfon works great and I am once again enjoying one of the greatest benefit of Twitter: mobile tweeting.

I Wasn’t Really Following You

While my Twitter homepage may have said I was following 55,000+ people, the truth was I was following less than 100. Thanks to services like HootSuite, which allowed me to divide my followers into groups. What I did was was create a group call “Close Friends” and add the people I wanted to follow to that. What happened to the main group that contain the 55,000 followers? I deleted it! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s done this. The next time you see someone following over 5,000 people, ask yourself if he will ever read or even see your tweet. Chances are, you’ve been placed in a deleted or completely ignored group.

Please don’t feel bad if I’m no longer following you because, unless you were in my close friends group, I never was following you in the first place. And if you’re one of the 10,000+ who unfollowed me because I stop following you, that’s OK. No hard feelings.

201 thoughts on “Why I Unfollowed 55,000 Twitter Users”

  1. I don’t blame you. I’ve never understood the people that follow others just because those people are following them. If you don’t really have any interest in what they have to say, then you’re just wasting your time.

    1. Yeah, its quite a good move by John. We have to constantly filter until we get true followers. I just found out I was following 2 Johnchow , one of it was a fake account by some loser. Haha

    2. Hara Kim says:

      I agree the real fans will stick around though. I myself unfollowed everyone and started over using your tool actually haha

    3. Money-Era says:

      You are right, the truth is that majority of users are just focusing on gaining as much followers as they can. Not too many anymore are using the Twitter as it was intended to be.

  2. Blogging says:

    Leo from zenhabits did the same some time ago, and I do know of a lot of others, me included,that think about doing something similar, it all starts when you start to divide your followers in groups “close friends” and “ignore”, then you have already unfollowed them, even if they are still on your list, I would be interested to hear how a) your sales react as I think you used twitter to promote products and b) how low your follower count will go and how that affects your sponsored tweets, SY
    PS I will continue to follow you to see how it goes πŸ˜‰

  3. Well done John ! Social Media inherently means interacting with people you know. Knowing hundreds of people may be feasible but knowing tens of thousands in limited space and time dimension is not feasible (unless you are a super human !!)….

    Hope this will encourage others to follow suit and use twitter and other social media tools in more productive manner rather than as spam machines !


  4. I’m amazed people can even follow 100 other people. I’ll stick with my following of < 10 people. Otherwise I end up spending most of the day reading every tweet.

    Oh, and check out Twittelator Pro on the iPhone. I reckon you'll like it better than Twitterfon.

  5. Hey John,
    Is twitterfon really better than tweetie?
    I noticed you never did rely to me. Wish I made it to your garage sale last year, LOL
    It is an interesting concept to buld unfollow, yet twitter is all about conversation and you may miss out on news like an earthquake in Japan or interesting motivational quotes. You will know about the one in California LOL.
    I will keep following you. I auto delete auto DM’s and do not send them out.
    I also manually review all new followers and unfollows, that is how I saw that you unfollowed me.
    John Reese thinks that auto follow is one big safe list.
    I interact with as many interesting people as I can and unfollow anyone that tells me about teeth whitening or the Trump network more than once.
    I understand your position, yet I have made a lot of new friends on twitter and none of my close buddies from High School are on Twitter and some do not even have email so for now I will continue on the path of follow interesting people and unfollow uninteresting people. I follow 4,300 people and it is a bit much, yet I follow new people and unfollow others each day. It works for me right now, yet I see your point and miss seeing the steady stream of tweets from my original friends like Mari Smith, Coach Deb, Warren Whitlock, Lee Collins and my new friends since I follow so many people.
    I understand and look forward to meeting you face to face one of these days. Are you going to the charity tweet up in Mountain view tomorrow at Shore Line?
    You can read more about me at my blog @ http://clayfranklin.com

    1. John Chow says:

      I never had a chance to try Tweetie yet but many people have told me it was better than Twitterfon. I may give it a go. I hear it can do video too! I have a family BBQ tomorrow. Can make the tweet up.

      1. My IRL twitter expert friend, Lee Collins and he still loves tweetie. You might give it a try. I think I will get twitterfon and then write a reivew comparing the two.
        Thanks for the ebook, pretty cool to get the email for commenting. I need to set that up on my blog.
        The SVtweetup is really fun and it is at Santana Row in a few weeks. It is also a charity event with lots of market mavens. Very Fun and outside on 7th floor at Valencia Hotel.

        1. John Chow says:

          Ya, do a comparison of Twitterfon to Tweetie. I would love to read it.

      2. DJ says:

        Tweetie is a really good app for the iPhone. I can not compare it to Twitterfon because I have not used it. I also did not know that Tweetie can do video. Tweetie is made by atebits. Here is a link to the Website http://www.atebits.com/tweetie-iphone/. Hope this helps.

      3. The desktop (Mac) version of Tweetie can do video, the iPhone version doesn’t yet.

  6. Richard M says:

    I’d day be-careful unfollowing a large chunk of users like that all in one day and all under what is likely an automated system. Twitters new TOS states your account might be flagged at spam if you have followed and unfollowed people in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive follower churn);

    1. John Chow says:

      That did cross my mind as I was removing followers at a rate of over 100 per minute. πŸ™‚

      1. dreams` box says:

        How did you remove followers at a rate of 100 per minute ???

        manually ??????

        1. John Chow says:

          Shoemoney coded up a little script for me. It did the job in about 9 hours. It would take forever to unfollow 55,000 manually.

          1. Any chance Shoemoney would make that script available to the public? I haven’t been on Twitter long, but I’ve already figured out how pointless following everyone and their mom is. I usually just search the people who I’m interested in hearing about/from because all the ridiculous spam

    2. Unless your following, unfollowing, following, unfollowing…I doubt you’ll get flagged. Surely Twitter recognizes that people who “fauxlow” more people than they can really follow eventually do mass unfollows.

      …well, I guess we’ll find out! πŸ™‚

      1. Richard M says:

        Yeah I really doubt someone like JC would have issues, but someone like props that admittedly hasn’t been on Twitter for very long but suddenly needs a script to unfollow a bunch of users might watch out.

        1. It would suck to get busted as a “fauxlower.” I actually wish I could wipe my account clean and start fresh. I doubt twitter has options to do that. I know that follow trading is probably the fastest way for new users to build followers, but they aren’t quality followers. I jumped on the bandwagon before I knew what i was doing πŸ™

  7. Øystein says:

    So, you built your follower list by adhering to the reciprocal following paradigm of the social media, and now unfollow everyone so you can have a traditional one-to-many broadcast list again?

    Yeah, if you were really starting over you’d delete this whole account, and start over with just following those 100 people you’d want to network with. That you don’t shows that you think there’s sales to be made from your twitter list, and you have no intention of giving up the money to be made from your gaming of the social networks.

    Class act, man. Same shit as Mike Filsaime and John Reese pulled to subvert the social media paradigm.

    1. John Chow says:

      Actually, I didn’t do reciprocal following until my account had over 10K followers.

      1. TechZoomIn says:

        Acting very smart dude…

        You said to people that, “You follow I follow you”.. And now all of a sudden you realized that you’re following too many people and you unfollowed them.

        Now you want to show quality there that you’re following only 100 and 50k brain less fellows are following you. What a joke man πŸ™‚

        If you want only quality twitter account. you can just delete that account and start new one by following that 100 people right? You won’t do that because you want to earn money from twitter too.

        Great that where you’re Great…!

        1. Agent 001 says:

          Nicely said. I have unfollowed John. And that to knowingly and I do not use any scripts.

      2. This is actually a product of your own page. It doesn’t sound like you even considered the possible problems of following everyone that followed you. I saw a great webpage showing the power of twitter with 0 followers!

          1. I couldn’t find your e-mail address on your page, so I sent the link on twitter. I have only read through the sales page, so i don’t know how good the content actually is. it’s free, but you have to pay for S&H

          2. Erika Marie says:

            It’s [email protected] & I found it (among all of the spam DM). Thanks.

    2. If this were John’s plan from the start, you’d be right. But it wasn’t — this is just a step in the evolution of Twitter.

      Early on, people thought it would be polite to follow back anyone who followed you, so that became part of the culture. Then experience taught that if you have many followers, reciprocal following leads to overload. So the culture is evolving.

      Why should John delete his Twitter account and start over? If he did, all the people who REALLY want to follow his tweets would have to find and follow the new account. Anyone who only followed him for the EMPTY reciprocal follow probably wasn’t reading his tweets anyway. And if they don’t like what he’s done, they can unfollow him.

      1. Agent 001 says:

        Don’t support John so much. You may not feel like it is bad but everyone had faith so much faith on him and he stabs in the back that too declaring openly.

        If he wanted to clean up his twitter, he could have done it slowly. May be in 10 – 15 days.

  8. Zombie_Plan says:

    Sorry, but after preaching so long about how you need to follow everyone back to avoid negatives and so forth, despite how obvious these repurcussions could be, I do find it a little funny.

    I agree on TweetDeck having tonnes of bugs too. I don’t know what they were thinking there.

  9. Gary says:

    People who preach “follow me and I’ll follow you back” have some issues. You should follow somebody because you want to hear what they want to say and know more about them, not just follow back because you “should”.

    Following less people on twitter makes mobile tweeting a lot more enjoyable.

    1. Joshua says:

      There is a site someone started…it’s about a bunch of people that will follow you back…I can’t remember the name of it, can you?


      PS – TwitterFon Pro is better than Tweetie, don’t let Gary fool you John, he gets commission!

      1. Kent says:

        Haha…nice one. I can’t remember the name either.

        On iPhone, TweetDeck first, and Twitterific second. Used TwitterFon before, but can’t compete these two.

      2. Was it hi5? I love that site… everyone follows me back there. I’m a freakin superstar on hi5!!

        And I’m a Tweetdeck fan for syncing up my iPhone and would have to roll with Twittelator Pro kicking much ass. Just wish it had a desktop version.

        1. Nick Aviles says:

          Wow… A superstar…. Never in my days would I think I’d ever talk to one!!!

      3. Richard M says:

        I’m not sure its the same site (and no I don’t know the name) but wasn’t it a blog post or something where the guy listed people that auto-follow. He had an extensive list of people, that if I recall got rather pissed because they were flooded with new “faux-followers”.

        I know there are a few sites twitterautofollow is one, but there was one I have in mind that really started it all.

    2. Following less people makes twitter what it was meant to be: a way to keep up with what your friends and people you are actually interested in are doing.

  10. Hajib says:

    i agree.. its not possible to follow by that number of people.

  11. Zombie_Plan says:

    Bam said the lady (wrote a quicklet on it, basically saying what I said earlier :P)

    I’m happy John changed his mind on the followingness thing.

  12. Zombie_Plan says:

    Bam said the lady (wrote a quicklet on it, basically saying what I said earlier :P)

    I’m happy John changed his mind on the followingness thing.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

    1. Zombie_Plan says:

      Thank you for stealing my name (and using it to try and sell your product or something). I hope you die in a fire.

      1. Benjamin Cip says:

        Die in a fire….that’s a bit harsh.

        1. Zombie_Plan says:

          Well considering the person took my name AND my comment, then tagged on something generic to make it seem genuine, and advertised a product link in the name, I think it’s justified ;P

      2. Blogging says:

        Seems the comment section here could do with a bit of moderating, for the “name stealing” i mean πŸ˜‰ SY
        PS The same guy went loose on my blog not long ago, I just edited his info a bit πŸ˜‰

      3. John Chow says:

        I was wondering why that comment was in the spam folder. Doh! I approved it too! I’ve removed the link on the name.

        1. Blogging says:

          Great! I had this annoying thing happen a few times on my blog, with the time you know which niches your commenters operate in and which are alien to them. But sometimes somebody slips the net. BTW, if somebody tries to get a link in for “spare car parts” under the nick “hospitalera” IT ISN’T ME! πŸ˜‰ SY

          1. Benjamin Cip says:

            I didn’t write the comment above… sounds like someone is stealing my informations…. any idea how to prevent this?

          2. Benjamin Cip says:

            If you check the redirected address of the person who use my gravatar and name, it’s not my blog address at all… please remove it John…
            I’m talking about the comment “Die in a fire….that’s a bit harsh.” Thank you..

        2. EarningStep says:

          but i think that people can still spam you , with facebook offcourse…lol

        3. Zombie_Plan says:

          I wouldn’t mind seeing it just plain deleted, considering it is a spam comment anyway, the contents of which were more dynamic on the original incarnation. With links and all.

  13. Kent says:

    Unfollowing all is a celebrity game, not for average people. I have seen many who have large followers done so. I have no problem with it but personally I don’t like it. If you already group and ignore them why bother unfollowing them?

    As an average user, if I want to gain followers I will have to approach them first. By that means, I will have to follow them first in the hope that they find me interesting and follow me back. It’s more like I am following you not because I want to see your tweets rather the other way around.

  14. Diabetis says:

    I think that it is just alright for not following those people. most of them are just spammer.

    1. Benjamin Cip says:

      That’s how I feel too..

    2. Nick Aviles says:

      A lot of them are, so I don’t think it should be a big deal either way.

  15. That’s right how could you possibly follow that amount of people. Even though you try to follow each and everyone of them reading their post will take months. By reducing the number of the people you follow at least you’ll be able to know them better.

  16. Benjamin Cip says:

    I actually don’t really give attention to most of the tweet of my follower unless they are my friends or the tweet catch my attention… unfortunately most of the tweet I see are sponsored tweet or are not really interesting for me… maybe I should remove some of my followers?

  17. azahar says:

    Makes perfect sense to me.

    And I agree with DH that Twittelator Pro on iPhone rocks.

  18. Clarky says:

    Yeah, John, you are very right. Only the god could follow 55,000 people on Twitter.
    When you are following so many people, Twitter will become useless to you, because you can get information that you want and connect with people who you want.

    1. AllenR says:

      Yeah it’s a nice dose of reality to hear a master blogger put things in perspective. Interesting thought about God’s ability to follow tweets.

  19. Paul B says:

    So I take it you’re going to close down twitterfollower.com then?

    1. Blogging says:

      Touche! Excellent one, SY

    2. John Chow says:

      Actually, yes I am. Twitter sent me a C&D because it had “twitter” in the name. I’ll be moving the site to a new domain, but I’ll be removing myself from it.

      1. Blogging says:

        ouch, call it tweetfollowers then, and paint the birdie pink πŸ˜‰ SY

      2. Are you planning on leaving the service up even though you no longer believe in it? I’ll be removing my name from the list too since I’ve noticed everyone that adds me from that list seems to be a mad spammer.

      3. Kent says:

        that doesn’t make any sense. because they trademarked twitter, anyone else can’t really use it as part of the name? what if John just wants it called twit-terfol-lower.com?

  20. LetUpdate says:

    I do not have twitter but I understand that it is impossible to read all 55k message in mobile gadget.

    1. EarningStep says:

      lol….. i only have 1900 follower but get at least 50 spam msg everyday.. what a quality followers….

      1. Nick Aviles says:

        Yea, there’s spam going around everywhere.

  21. Obed Ward says:

    I support you John. You have no idea how many times I’ve started over with different things, and when you want to read what is important in your Twitter feed, you can’t have 55,000 people chattering all at the same time. It makes no sense.

    Oh and for the person bashing you (I assume he’s talking about the ratio of your follow/followers), I personally don’t think you did this so you could have more followers than following ratio. I’m a novice John Chow reader (and a fairly novice blogger as well), but I’ve read a couple of posts and I can come to a conclusion that you’re simply not that type of person.

    People confuse other people that try to make money online as the bad person. If I advertise, I’m money-crazy, if I promote affiliate links, I’m money-hungry, if I try to show off my hard earned income to teach other people how they can do it as well, I’m money-hungry-crazy.

    Okay, before I turn this into a blog post in your blog, John. My point is, keep doing what you do because you’re serving the blogosphere well.

    Have a nice day John,

    Obed Ward

    1. Blogging says:

      Nobody here is “bashing” John, at least not me, but if you are a bit longer in the game, you learn to do it like the pros do it, not as they say you should do it πŸ˜‰ John has a great community here on his blog, but it would be boring if we would only agree with him, no discussion, no different view points, boooring! SY

  22. keepbiz says:

    Yes.. I agree with you.. SOmetimes there’s more SPAM than real message..

    1. There is ALWAYS more spam than real messages.

  23. ian says:

    Hi, that’s why I didn’t understand how twitter can be a source of traffic. If someone are following 100 people, how can our message reach him.

    1. Blogging says:

      That is the reason a lot of spammers send out a lot of spam messages, hoping it hits the goal from time to time πŸ˜‰ SY

  24. So how can you automate this process. I am interested in following suit!

    1. EarningStep says:

      you know john . you can do everything he want…. but i agree with john … Really..
      @ john chow.. you are doing a great job here…. 100% agree with you…

    2. John Chow says:

      I did it with a custom written script. If there’s enough demand for it, I can make it available for everyone.

      1. *Insert Demand here* Seriously though, on your twitter follower page πŸ™‚

      2. *Insert Demand here* Seriously though, maybe you could post it on your twitter follower page for people who change their mind about using the product.

  25. Young says:

    At the beginning, @JohnChow followed anyone who followed him, now, he Unfollowed 55,000 Twitter Users , genius! I will do that too when I have 55,000 followers.

    1. Blogging says:

      Yep, and his reputation in twitters eyes has increased by 100x, SY

    2. Holmez says:

      It is not a nice idea at all. that will be a big cheat. and i don`t think that there are more than those 10000 follow him to just get followed back.

  26. Andy says:

    I think it’s a good move and it must have been fun to get past 50K followers. I wonder what the record number of followers is?

    1. Many popular people like opera and brittany spears have over 1,000,000 followers.

      1. EarningStep says:

        what a number here….. look like they will need to read at least five digit number of spam everyday..lol

        1. They’re not following that much people, at least from what I understand from the comment, those are followers.

          1. Correct. check wefollow.com and you’ll see all the top followed people. i can’t imagine having 3 million people following me.

  27. Reba says:

    I did the same about a month ago. I was only following about 1000 but Twitter was useless for me, I can’t imagine following 55,000. I’m down to about 85 now and it’s people I really want to hear, so much better. I lost a couple of hundred followers but at the time I was so frustrated with Twitter that I didn’t care if I lost them all. I did it manually, it took me several hours but it was really worth it, I’m so much happier.

    1. Nick Aviles says:

      I agree. I think it’s just overwhelming and absolutely not necessary.

  28. To me, mass unfollows like this normally mean that the person wants to look like a “guru” – one of those special people that has a mass following, but that only follows a select few. We Twitterzens look up to these people, and wish we were cool enough to attract followers with no chance of getting followed back. That’s why, normally, I see these mass unfollows and think it’s a little silly.

    However John, you’ve written the best argument I’ve seen yet for this. Well done. I’m not ready to do it myself, but I get where you’re coming from.

  29. Steve says:

    You have started the unfollow anti-spam movement. The end of free wheeling Twitter as we all know it.

  30. Steve says:

    I think getting your iPhone App to work like your desktop apps (or finding one that does) would have had the same outcome.

  31. Melvin says:

    Well at the end you still got the upperhand isn’t it? If you’re likely doing the reciprocal thing and Im sure you’ve also dabbled with mass following, then if all of a sudden you decided to cut out a big chunk then you’d really not lose that much. You lost 10,000 but that isn’t that big compared to those you unfollowed…

  32. EarningStep says:

    john .. i follow you not because of want you to follow me back . i just think , it will be great if i can follow people that have nice information about blogging. and twitter is really nice place to get what you share to people.
    follow you on twitter is one of the best i can do to get news from your blog and ITS FREE , right ?
    i just have the same problem with you . 99% msg i got from follower is SPAM

  33. Mike says:

    Nice John…at first I wondered why you would do that…but after your expanation it makes sense! see you in Vegas!

  34. Holmez says:

    Good to do that, I always wonder How were you able to read from all those people?

  35. Yes this was expected and yes it took little long but finally this one happened.

    To be honest that was part of your one campaign and since that campaign complete now you get back to your normal.

    We can understand John at your level you will have to adopt this and we are quite agree with you.

  36. To be fair,, if you unfollow all the users, you should also delete the users from you list.

    You list was built on the mantra, “You follow, I Will Follow You”

    Now that you have deleted the followers, you should in fairness Delete/Block the users from your list.
    No? Yes?

    It’s like “Give me 1 dollar, and I’ll give 1 dollar back” (You place $50,000 in the bank and the followers collectively places $50,000 in the bank). You go the collector’s bank and takes out their $50,000 while you’re left with $50,000.

    1. John Chow says:

      That makes no sense what-so-ever. My list wasn’t built on you follow me, I follow you. I had over 10,000 followers before I started following people. And anyone can unfollow me at any time. It seems that over 10K has done that. The rest are following because they want to follow.

      The reason many “big” Twitter users won’t clean out their list is because their entire list is made up of people who auto follow/unfollow and if they clean it out, they’ll be left with no followers.

    2. Marc says:

      Its not like that at all… I don’t care if John just unfollowed me(of course I would love to have him interested in what I have to say) but i’m not going to unfollow him, because he has interesting things that I want to read about…

      Don’t be bitter.

  37. beachbettypr says:

    I don’t think it’s a shady thing or unfair at all. Seriously, how can you follow that many people’s tweets? I mean unfair? Are we in the second grade now? If these people are truly getting something from John’s tweets than there is nothing wrong with them following him and him not following back. There shouldn’t be an expectation that somone will follow you back. You should earn that. John obviously has. If you aren’t able to follow what that many people are saying than what’s the point? It just becomes a numbers game and that’s just that. A game.

  38. Truden says:

    55 000 (!)
    Are you crazy?

  39. Bob Jones says:

    OMG! I hate you! I like totally unfollowed you back!

  40. Kris says:

    I only follow people I’m interested in. I’m not trying to impress anyone with a certain number of followers. There are a lot of people following me that I don’t follow and vice versa. In fact, I just edited my list this morning. Added some new and deleted some.

  41. Meh, if you’re not reading someone’s tweets, there’s no real reason to follow them, I guess.

    As for losing 10K followers, yeah, that’s not really a big deal. I’d rather have a smaller, more responsive following than a large following that doesn’t pay attention.

    I’m starting to thing that Twitter’s tagline should be, “Millions of People Who Mostly Ignore Each Other.”

  42. Hello, very funny this article. You told so many times how to build a big list of followers with the tactic of following many people who will follow back and now that was all false… Are you not the man behind http://www.twitterfollower.com …. My tactic was allways only to follow people who I want to follow. I don’t care about the number of people who are following me, I only want to have people following me, who wants to read about what I have to say. And if it were only ten people it would be okay, but I would know that these people care about my stuff!!

    1. John Chow says:

      No, that is still true. If you want to build a big follower list, follow a lot of people. That is still the fastest way to do it. My reasons to stop auto following is explained in the post. No where did I say auto following doesn’t built you a big list. It does.

      1. Jeremy young says:

        John I noticed you haven’t removed your self from the Twitterfollower Database?

        1. John Chow says:

          I am gone now. And my Twitter home page no longer says, “Follow me and I will follow you back.”

  43. fas says:

    Now we see the real sense of twitter rather than stupid over 10000 followers for sake of name and fame.

  44. Lyubomyr says:

    I support you. 100 followers are to much

  45. It might be about time for my version of this post, since almost everyone else is dong the same thing at this point….

    Although, I’m hurt that I’m not a close friend πŸ™‚

  46. Ms. Freeman says:

    I understand this tactic for Twitter, but what would happen if those same 10k+ people also removed themselves from your RSS feed and FB fan page?

    Whatever happened to community reciprocity?

    1. John Chow says:

      That’s up to them. However, I never said you sub to my RSS or FB and I’m sub to you.

  47. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and your post finally got me off my ass and post it. I made a php script to delete friends from facebook. Warning, if you set it to delete over 5,000 followings at a time it will take a while. you can get it here

    1. John, your script that turns twitter and facebook into a link is broken. In my last comment I know I put Twitter, but when I posted the comment it was changed to facebook. You should check it out

  48. Nathan says:

    some twitter users are really just spamming and I find it very annoying actually. There are also so many programs that destroys the fun of using twitter like auto-follow.

  49. Sarge says:

    Amazing JC! I just did a similar thing.

    I used your twitterfollower app just the other day to unfollow all those that were not following me back. I still have a bit of work to do in order to create a clean twitter account but It’s much nicer now than it was before!

    I have twitter account in ‘sargeventure’ where I only follow people that actually give great value to me and that I want to follow.

    My most active twitter account in ‘beginnerblogger’ is primarily where I follow beginner bloggers (funnily enough). I was adding way more people than were following me back, but now I’m cleaning that out so I’m following only those that are within my niche and I can provide great value and help to as beginner bloggers.

    It’s all about quality for me in the twitter world now!

  50. Ronblogger says:

    I think there’s really no point of following thousands of people if you really don’t know them,so i admire what you’ve done JC

    1. Nick Aviles says:

      Agreed. Follow someone who you know and want to hear from, not so they would follow you back.

  51. Perry Belcher, one of the more famous IM gurus, creates 2 accounts for Twitter. One that’s following thousands of users and another that only have less than a hundred. Maybe you could do that as well, John?

  52. Ray Ebersole says:

    Well, I have auto unfollow setup on TweetLater or whatever they are called now, so I was one of the 10,000 that unfollowed. Unfortunately I started following you because of this blog. I have met some nice people from following you, including Michael Kwan, Ed Lau, Stephen Fung.

    I’ve won some contests on Michael’s blog and comment there everyday. I have even helped solve some computer related issues for Buzz Bishop and Michael Kwan, so it hasn’t been an unproductive follow.

    I also enjoy watching your videos and look forward to any dot com pho video.

    I will have to go back and follow you since I enjoy what you are doing and your commentary. Sorry I couldn’t be in the select 100.

  53. Sunny Rock says:

    Following 55000 users? That is amjor Information overload….. good idea to make things simple again

    1. Nick Aviles says:

      I agree. There are just some things that you simply can’t keep track of, and of course, especially reading 50,000 people’s tweets whenever they’re going to the bathroom or having dinner. It’s useless, pointless information. I would rather follow 10 people whose tweets I will read, than 100,000 people whose tweets I’ll never read.

  54. myfirst50000 says:

    If your applications start crashing because you were following too many persons, it’s ok to clean up your account. Most of celebraties like yourself πŸ™‚ are not following in returns.. it’s because no one can trully follow 50 000 persons… I will keep following you on Twitter as always, even if you probably don’t follow me anymore lol

  55. Ray Ebersole says:

    I forgot to mention that I met Garry Jones through you and BlueFur is now my web hosting service.

  56. ZhuZhuPets says:

    Most of your twitter followers end up being folks who are selling the same stuff you are. It ends up you are just preaching to the choir in 1 big waste of time circle jerk.

  57. It is true we shouldn’t follow thousand of people we don’t even know. I have clean my following list not long ago also. Twitter is always targeted with spam users now. “Following people who follow me” isn’t a good idea if you want to read “real” tweets but many people just want to take advantage of twitter including those who unfollow me after I am following them. That will make them look more pro since they have more followers than following. I don’t want to follow people who unfollow me later just get advantage of it.

  58. DJ says:

    Following that many people is really unrealistic. John, I totally understand why you did it. Besides, around 95% of the followers are just spamming. I think this article has opened up the eyes of some of the twitter fanatics.

  59. John, didn’t unfollowing all of those people go against the whole purpose of your site TwitterFollower.com?

    1. John Chow says:

      I guess it does but TwitterFollower.com doesn’t have anything to do with blog, other than sharing the same owner.

  60. daryllorette says:

    Time to take out the trash!

  61. oes tsetnoc says:

    Following 55,000 twitter users is not a easy job.. i think you have used some kind of trick or software for that

  62. Most twitter users have a large number of followers because they do “exchange follow” even though they don’t know each other.

    Because you have a large number of followers, people might admire you as a great person it’s because many have followed you which is a lie.

  63. You won’t believe but i was knowing you are going to do this one day, I am now waiting for Problogger to do the same. You can’t actually follow that many numbers.

  64. Kellex says:

    Seems sort of hypocritical seeing as you also own a site called “Twitter Follower” which you can supposedly only be a part of if you promise to follow anyone that follows you…

    1. John Chow says:

      You want to buy it off me? I’ll sell it. πŸ™‚

      1. Erika Marie says:

        Are you being sued over it? I remember you mentioning Twitter sent you a cease & desist over it. However, I do agree that it is hypocritical, but at the same time, I completely understand why you’d do that. Since I joined Twitter Follower, I’m having the same exact problem, & I only have 1372 followers at the time being… I am venturing to guess that because of Twitter Follower, 1300 of those are spam.

        1. Teen money says:

          Well that is where all my tweets are lost too.. I was following people very fast on twitter and suddenly I know my tweets are not getting the importance it deserved.
          What was the benefit of following those people on twitter follower??

          1. Erika Marie says:

            Other than the fact that they’re SUPPOSED to follow you back, nothing… More followers are supposed to get you more $$ when offering advertising space on your tweets.

      2. kellex says:

        I’ll give you $50 for it πŸ˜›

  65. Galachadas says:

    Spam is a growing problem in twitter, it’s regrettable.
    you’ve made the right decision

  66. drawernote says:

    You’re right, but getting 55,000 followers take long time…
    i think twiiter will really usefull for our private friend only..

  67. Fair enough. There’s really no point in following thousands and thousands of people..

  68. Julian says:

    Sorry, John, this doesn’t look very impressive as an explanation.

    You’ve spent months arguing that “marketing” is a reasonable justification for having a mass audience, while the only way to build that in the absence of a celebrity profile is follow-back.

    And you setup a follow-back service because “social validation” is important.

    Then you suddenly switch emphasis just as switching emphasis will give you a further jump up the rankings.

    If I had to judge I’d say it’s stage 2 in a strategy to get into the Top 100 or so.

    As to whether it was the plan from the start – I have no information to determine that, though I think you’re good enough to lay out that strategy from day 1.

    But – you’re account to do with as you will.

    Stage 3 will be interesting.


  69. aansa says:

    Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. – Anonymous

  70. aansa says:

    You have stopped following all the people you were following back, however, majority of the people who are following you will not even know that John Chow who once told them follow me and i will follow back is no longer following them.

    What it will make you look like? a celebrity who is following very few people but about 50k people are following him. Well done!

    1. Teen money says:

      Well I can understand what you are feeling. The feeling of frustration will be there for us because he promised us in the first place.
      But as he said he was not following us in the first place. So books are even..

  71. I was actually thinking about doing the same thing. Great post explaining why indeed, no hard feelings πŸ™‚

  72. Teen money says:

    It is very Hard to digest the fact that you are not following me. But as You said we are not unduly worried. We followed you to know what you are up to. It is not important to let you know what we think because you are a serious person. It is very important to learn from you so.. I will follow you.

  73. Holmez says:

    Still dont know, why did you ‘previously’ follow those people if you are using HootSuite? and please don`t tell me that you did to get followed back “beside you don`t need that, You may make alot of people hate you.

    1. John Chow says:

      I followed back as a courtesy. At the time, when social media was still social, it was a simple matter of courtesy to follow the people who followed you. Now, it’s just one unmanageable spam fest. So, it was time to start over.

  74. Anthony Kibe says:

    Twitter is nothing but trendy CRAP. Something people do because everybody is doing it. It makes no sense, it’s a waste of time and everybody auto following everybody who’s auto following everybody else is mindless and redundant. If twitter was how one gets rich, I’d rather be poor.

    1. Nick Aviles says:

      I will hate to agree to some extent that there’s a lot of propaganda about lots of things, including twitter. Personally, I do not find it useful whatsoever. However, if that’s what people want, then you don’t have much choice but to use what people use.

    2. Make Money says:

      Agreed, plus the quality of traffic coming from it is shockingly poor. It might be ok for IM products, but most ad networks now reject twitter traffic, because it doesn’t convert for their advertisers.

  75. You’re right. We are getting ready to have to do the same thing on our Twitter page. There is just no way that you can actually keep up with the people or companies that you want if you are following so many.

  76. Chris says:

    Really shows how observant I am.I didn’t even notice you unfollowed me.But I can understand why and it’s no big deal to me.I don’t follow back every person who follows me.

  77. DJ says:

    I see there are some people that are kind of upset by this move, some call it hypocritical but think about it, is it realistic to actually follow 55,000 people? As John has stated, he never was really following you. And twitterfollower.com is not part of this blog, it really is a separate entity and I think it is part of a marketing strategy.

  78. Make Money says:

    Ya, once you start to follow even a few thousand, especially in the IM niche, all you ever get is spam. It makes the whole thing pointless, as I no longer even login to mine, I started a new account with all of about 6 people who I actually want to follow.

  79. John Pope says:

    John, let us know how numbers change in the future so we can draw a conclusion on this topic.

  80. Seth Simonds wrote on this exact topic a few months ago: http://sethsimonds.com/why-i-unfollowed-everybody-on-twitter/

    It seems to be a common occurance these days. I wrote about this as well – http://underthebigtopics.com/web/gear-up-were-hunting-twitter-zombies

    My point was that there are too many people using twitter to speak and not listen. As you stated having 10’s of thousands of tweeps to follow is unmanageable, not to mention just pointless.

    Great Post, glad to see the change.

  81. gaban says:

    as i know people join to twitter to get more traffic
    how come they become spams

  82. MJ says:

    I think this was a great post john.

  83. John, I follow you because of the value I get from your expertise. I seriously do not expect you to follow me back! You are an internet rockstar, and deserve a celebrity type twitter follower profile as such. I can not imagine trying to differentiate between 55,000 followers worth of drivel. Good choice, and I expect to see many more people using this approach in future. One should only follow people that can add value, period! The twitter honeymoon is over now, let’s get down to business!

  84. Haha, that’s some brave move there John. But I do agree that nobody can follow 55k and be able to cope up with all those tweets, thats just insane.

  85. Funny thing is, John, you were one of the few that told everyone to enable the auto-follow and recommended it too.


  86. I totaly agree with you . I would do the same if I have this number . It would be nice if you dont have to download all twitter posts or to customize it according to your need.

  87. I like your honesty. If someone follows me and I see that they have 15k, 20k, or 50k they’re following I don’t even bother because I know they’re not really reading all of those. I use Twitter to connect with people. You are too I see, so I will be sure to follow. Good post.

  88. Volksphone says:

    Thats true. I have some problems with my iphone when i got 100+ tweets. So i decided to add another account for using on my iphone. Now it is getting better. Maybe one time the phone will do it without problem but now it canΒ΄t.

    Best regards,

  89. I believe that you did the right thing John. I am going to do the same with my 7,000 people…


  90. “Hey Chow,

    This is a pretty smart move. I also drained my 28000 followers to 136 just yesterday. I also believed that you cannot follow such a huge number of people. The small size being small adds productivity to your website. This is what I learned very late.

    Hootsuite is wonderful, but the tool that I have used to managing my twitter is tweetdeck that made my twitter account go smooth.”

  91. “Hey Chow,

    I must say these people are really really lucky that they have made it to the Blog world Expo passes. This is amazing and I am feeling very bad for me that I haven’t made it this time. But I will win them next time for sure.”

  92. Hey Chow,

    My last comment was meant for your other blog post “The Winners of The Blog World Expo Passes”.

    I must have done something wrong for it to end here. I am sorry about that. Will be more careful next time.

  93. John I understand its hard for you to follow every one tweets…but thats why group feature is there..more over it was you who keep promoting follow every one back…. Now what we should do with those people we followd in the past?

  94. I have been thinking of nuking 4000 followers from around 5500 people that follow me (I follow them all back).

    The truth is, people I used to speak to are no longer there and I don’t get to connect with people I really like which is a huge shame. I am frightened if I mass un-follow that many people Twitter may suspect I am some big spammer and lock, freeze or even delete my account, which I wouldn’t really be cool with!

    I used to generate so much business just with the contacts I had on that site.

  95. BillyWarhol says:

    Yeah I don’t Blame ya 1 Darn bit fer Dumpin’ all those Twitter LOSERS + Tire Kickers John!! Smart Move Dude!!
    Pure2x2 Baby!! ;))

  96. Maya C says:

    John, I think you rock and I will continue to follow you.

  97. Jeffrey says:

    Well ……. sanity reins once again ……. confidence is restored.
    I never could wrap my mind around all the e-commerce people trying to sell me a 5 million person tweet following. Kinda defeats the purpose doesn’t it ?

    Jeffrey Morgan
    Bloggers Market.com

  98. Ladyexpat says:

    Everything, including Twitter, has a learning curve. I’m interested in photography and travel, and how I can potentially work the two into a blog and make some money.
    That’s where I’m going with my Twitter followers.

  99. Flippa Chick says:

    I took your advice and unfollowed quite a few people. While I don’t have a following compared to yours, or any other Internet Marketer’s for that matter, I do like to receive relevant tweets so I went ahead and registered for HootSuite…which I might add is a pretty powerful tool.

  100. Awesome says:

    glad you wrote this, i was actually wondering this myself. I figured people were using scripts to automatically follow people, so I tweeted, “make money online” and boom, you ended up following me, so I then followed you back.
    I remember your twitter acct being 55k+ followers then all of a sudden it droped to 100 (or whatever it is). So I thought 1) how he do that? and 2) auto follow is a great way for building your profile.
    Besides most of the 20k following and 20k follower accts are people using humming bird to inflate their following, you have enough of a web presence to not need a twitter tool.

  101. Tyler Ford says:

    Is there an easy way to unfollow that many people. I want to do the same.

  102. Hi John,
    I totally understand your situation & can understand that it ain’t worth to go through so much of spam. I would say when you are following 55K, it ain’t a quality people you wanna associate with, anyways.
    However it takes courage to go so 180 degrees opposite the norm, right?

  103. Gerlaine says:

    I unfollowed my whole list on @gerlainetalk on twitter. I wanted that following to be organic. I only follow who I want on a few other accounts and I have an autofollow unfollow on another account. I only tweet from one of these accounts regularly and love having the different account options for testing.

    I follow you on my @twitgerlaine, because I want to see what you are saying. I find a lot of good info from you that way. πŸ™‚

    1. This is a great idea. Thanks.

  104. This must have been a pretty cathartic experience. A nice cleansing. That is a ton of pruning, brings up a good point though. I know we have to have high numbers for marketing purposes, but I know too many people who just want facebook friends to inflate their number of friends, it’s sad.

  105. Julia says:

    I’m following people not because they follow me – this is ridiculous. Only if I really inerested in one’s tweets. So I beleive that true fans will still follow John =)

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