After ErikJHeels Unfollowed 24,000 On Twitter, 57% Stuck With Him

The #FollowAugust experiment explained.

When my son turned 13, he got a Twitter account. When he asked me who I follow, I said, “Everybody who follows me and then some.” But when I looked more closely at my Twitter profile, I realized that my follower list was not appropriate for a 13-year-old’s eyes. By virtue of following back those who followed me, I ended up following bots, spammers, and/or porn accounts.

I felt dirty.

On July 1, 2009, I had about 27,000 followers on Twitter and was following 24,000. That day, I launched the #FollowAugust experiment where I started unfollowing people at the rate of 1000 per day. My goal was not only to get rid of the junk but also to only follow those accounts that I actually follow. Today, nearly months after starting the experiment, I follow 263 and have about 15,000 followers.

During the experiment, I locked my account (to prevent new followers) and greatly scaled back my tweeting. Most of my tweets were Google Reader shared items published via FriendFeed. I have a drawing that explains my social networking setup.

Here are my Twitter stats during the #FollowAugust experiment.



























































































































































































































































































































Date Following Followers Tweets DMs Follow Requests @grader Score @twitterank Score
07/01/09 24000 26978 5234 8973 27 100.00
07/02/09 23000 26530 5275 8975 76 99.98
07/03/09 22000 26131 5318 8976 125 99.96
07/04/09 21000 25666 5353 8980 162 99.95
07/05/09 20000 25235 5356 8980 187 99.80
07/06/09 19000 24800 5364 8980 205 99.80
07/07/09 18000 24332 5382 8977 225 99.90
07/08/09 17000 23928 5409 8971 254 99.90
07/09/09 16000 23555 5438 8980 272 99.80 99.77
07/10/09 15000 23157 5462 8974 300 99.97 99.72
07/11/09 14000 22724 5488 8974 325 99.95 99.72
07/12/09 13000 22366 5497 8981 351 99.97 99.63
07/13/09 12000 21966 5512 8982 364 99.80 99.38
07/14/09 11000 21566 5530 8982 402 99.80 98.79
07/15/09 10000 21163 5548 8985 412 99.80 98.79
07/16/09 9000 20741 5565 8985 441 99.80 98.39
07/17/09 8000 20358 5571 8985 467 99.80 98.39
07/18/09 7000 19921 5581 8984 494 99.80 98.28
07/19/09 6000 19448 5582 8984 521 99.80 96.92
07/20/09 5000 19120 5589 8984 533 99.80 96.92
07/21/09 4000 18738 5603 8983 559 99.90 95.08
07/22/09 3000 18401 5616 8984 574 99.80 95.08
07/23/09 2000 18065 5633 8984 594 99.60 92.32
07/24/09 1000 16935 5643 8984 612 99.60 92.32
08/09/09 1015 15643 5650 8987 796 99.80 70.41
08/10/09 5 15602 5655 8985 801 99.80 70.41
08/10/09 0 15523 5656 8985 802 99.80 70.41
08/10/09 243 16224 5657 8985 0 99.80 70.41
08/27/09 263 15316 5771 8986 0 99.60 93.46
Change -23737, -99% -11,662, -43% +537, 9.25/day +13, 0.2/day +802, 30/day -0.40 -29.36

A few things jump out at me. Both @grader and @twitterank value high following counts. While I was on vacation, I did not tweet, and it’s clear that @twitterank also values constant activity. It also appears that most of the people who queued up to follow me (while my account was locked) promptly unfollowed me after I failed to follow back.

The bottom line: after unfollowing everybody and refollowing a select few, I lost 43% of my followers. But I kept 57%, so the glass is (more than) half full.

True, I have lost some of my Twitter “authority,” but I also feel like I have regained my Twitter virginity. At the very least, I can show the list of folks I’m following to my kids without fear of embarrassment.

Erik J. Heels writes about technology, law, baseball, and rock ‘n’ roll. You should follow @ErikJHeels on Twitter.


Related Articles

  1. 2009-07-04 – How I Tweet: Just the FAQs (interview with Guy Kawasaki)
  2. 2009-07-03 – Should Twitter Crack Down on Pornography?
  3. 2009-07-03 – 8 Talking Points On Twitter Follower-Building Tools
  4. 2009-07-02 – Marketers Call For Twitter To Filter Content For Pornography, Spam
  5. 2009-07-01 – Want More Twitter Followers? Break Out Your Wallet
  6. 2009-06-30 – Twitter Follower-Building Services – Gain Numbers, Lose Respect?
  7. 2009-06-30 – http://tweetspinner.com is a tool for Twitter spammers.
  8. 2009-06-30 – Twitter Revamps Following and Followers Pages
  9. 2009-06-30 – FriendOrFollow.com Helps Find Snobs And Spammers: These Are Mine [NSFW]
  10. 2009-06-25 – The Twitter Cycle: Curiosity, Abandonment, Addiction. Global Visitors Hit 37 Million.
  11. 2009-06-25 – 8 Ways To Find Relevant Followers On Twitter
  12. 2009-06-19 – Dear Wanna-bes, Your Twitter Stardom is Coming to an End
  13. 2009-06-01 – New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets
  14. 2008-10-23 – How ‘Follower Spam’ Infiltrated Twitter – and How to Stop It

4 Replies to “After ErikJHeels Unfollowed 24,000 On Twitter, 57% Stuck With Him”

  1. OFF TOPIC

    Erik,
    I’m a 1L. I can’t seem to find a good law student “chat room” Any recommendations?

    You’re an interesting guy!

  2. Greetings Ian,

    Yes, I unfollowed 24,000 people on Twitter manually. At the rate of 1000/day. Took some time to unscramble the eggs. But I think I’m in a better position now.

    Regards,
    Erik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *