Jason Yormark

The Art Of Having Thick Skin aka Twitter Purge Follow Up

Well, nobody is perfect.  Was unfollowing everyone and starting over a goodman-yelling-at-computer idea?  Probably remains to be seen. Looking back, I probably would have been better off not announcing it on my blog, but I’ve always been transparent with my actions, and simply thought it would be useful to others to document what I would be experiencing.  But in my particular case, I do believe it was the right thing to do regarding my wants/needs when it came to managing my social media efforts on a personal basis.  Needless to say, quite a few folks didn’t quite agree with my tactics.  And that’s OK.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Let’s recap some of the backlash that’s actually good reading:

  1. A handful of comments on the blog article announcement.  Big props to Mark Aaron Murnahan.  If you aren’t reading his blog, you’re missing out.
  2. Some blog posts written by Danny Brown, Amber Avines & Daniel Newman of which all I respect and read regularly despite the difference in opinion.  Aforementioned blog posts’ comments.

It’s hard for me to actually believe that my little nobody blog may have inspired these folks to write these articles, but the timing certainly appears that way.  I certainly wasn’t the first to mass un-follow and start over, only one of the more recent who blogged about it I guess.  To recap the above sentiment, it’s widely believed that folks that take these actions are doing it to appear more celebrity-like by having a large following and much smaller follower base.

I am no celebrity, and quite frankly, all the Twitter followers in the world isn’t going to change that.  I don’t sell anything, I don’t pimp any products or services on my blog, and I rarely promote anything other then the tools and services I genuinely adore.  I have a full time job, that quite frankly involves clients that have little to no correlation to much of what I speak of anywhere online.

My actions were purely noble in nature.  I had exactly 2 complaints from those I unfollowed, and both were done respectfully through email (and of course immediately followed back).  And since the unfollow, I’ve been slowly re-following those through pre-populated lists I created and through @mentions of worthwhile individuals.  I’ve already begun enjoying Twitter more since.

Could I have utilized a variety of 3rd party tools to accomplish some of these goals?  Perhaps.  But quite frankly, I didn’t want to have to.  The fact is, a large majority of the accounts I unfollowed were most likely bots, dead accounts, or those that pay little attention to me anyway.

The majority of my following came early on in my Twitter usage and back then, auto-following was a common practice and made sense for me back then.  Not so much now.  And honestly, if anyone was that hurt or disrespected by my actions, a simple @mention or email would have them most likely followed back anyway as I described in my blog post and tweets prior to the unfollows.

Not enough to prove doubters of my intentions?  Take a look at this October chart courtesy of one of my new fav tools Crowdbooster:

image

Long story short, lots of impressions, very little action.  Which tells me that while I have a large reach, it’s likely that a large portion of that reach is garbage due to a variety of bots, dead accounts, or simply those that don’t pay attention to me at all.  Some might think I might be crazy to be this transparent, but honestly, I barely have enough time to manage my career let alone my personal social media efforts.  My hope is that this will help me make things more efficient and help me connect with people more effectively.

This is a big part of the reason for my actions.  Over time my follower to following ratio will grow closer, and now that I am able to engage more efficiently, and connect with the “right” people, I predict that chart above will look very different in a few months.

I respect the opinions of those that feel it’s all in vain, and in some cases perhaps that’s true.  Just not in my case.  And quite frankly I can’t see how it would be with even the true social media celebs like Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse.  Both of these guys are hugely successful in what they do and rightfully so through successful blogs, books, speaking engagements, etc.  Why in the world would either of them need the “perceived” celebrity that a follower/following discrepancy apparently gives when they already had it?

Bottom line, I’m a small fish in an extremely large pond of social media professionals.  There are tons of opinions out there, and rightfully so considering the tools we use in social are evolving and launching at such a rapid pace.  I look forward to better attending to and managing my personal space and welcome any of you that have bothered to read this far to connect with me through commenting or reaching out via Twitter (which I can now promise I’ll respond to!)

Jason Yormark
I'm a 20 year veteran of digital marketing & the owner and founder of Socialistics, a social media agency based in Seattle. My spare time is filled with writing, baseball, my boys and everything Seattle has to offer.

23 comments

  1. Good job Jason with this post. There are no rules. Do what seems best for you as long you do it in a professional way, who can really complain. If they still want to see your tweets, they can. If they still want to connect with you, they can. Don’t see the big deal. Hang tough. 

    1. Thanks Mark for the kind words and for taking the time to share them here.  I feel I’ve handled it professionally, and haven’t had any genuine backlash.  I can definitely say my enjoyment of Twitter now is significantly higher and much easier to manage.

  2. Hey Jason!

    Thanks for the link back 😉

    I think people like myself started seeing a trend. It was a shift in how people were acting and what they were saying. I guess I’m big on precedents and seeing the power that influencers have to shape the course of events. Therefore, I saw the actions of the “elite” and saw how others were using that as validation.

    Those people in the golden Twitter towers taught us about community. As such, I think they bare the responsibility to walk the walk. But, hey, that’s just me and my opinion. 🙂

    Kudos to you for writing the follow up!

    Amber

    1. Well, it’s definitely true that I started thinking about it based on the actions of the power influencers, but it was actually some of the comments I received on my blog that pushed me over the edge.

      Ironically my whole reason for doing this was to reinforce “community”.  Made some poor choices early on with how I managed my personal Twitter account, and with 50k being followed, it’s just too much to manage, no matter how many lists, filters or 3rd party apps you throw at it.  Thus far haven’t upset anyone, and it’s just a matter of time before I refollow most of the well deserved folks that were lost in the crowd.

  3. Jason,
    While I can’t say you single handedly inspired my post, I also cannot say it didn’t motivate me.  We all are entitled to handle Social in our own way.  We are actually all entitled to do whatever the heck we want as long as we don’t break the law…
    So…I respect the way you have responded and communicated following the rash of posts.  When it comes down to it, it is what you stand for that counts.  Your character is far more important than your image.  You deep down know your intention good, bad, or otherwise.  That is far more important than what any one else may think it is.

    Cheers!

    Dan

    1. Well said and appreciated.  Character above all is important to me even if some of the choices I make seem questionable on the surface. I always strive to be transparent in what I do and that usually allows me to succeed and build strong relationships online and off.

      Thanks again for contributing to the conversation and above all, it’s been a great opportunity to connect with some new folks more deeply.

  4. @jasonyormark:disqus at the end of the day, you are not truly starting over. Yes you are from a ‘who you follow’ perspective but you still retain your entire follower base. That’s what people see as inauthentic. I feel if you were really wanting to start from scratch, you would have done what @jmitchem:twitter did. He had a large following at @smashadv:twitter and decided that he wasn’t really connecting. So he created a new twitter account and asked those who were truly connecting with him to join him there. That is starting over.

    1. Eh, I’m not exactly sure what I would have to gain by creating an entirely new Twitter account.  My biggest frustrations were around how many people I was following, and that a large majority of those were not real people.  I’ve lost about 10% of my following so far and that continues to drop as the automated accounts unfollow.  Regardless of my actions, I still stand by the authenticity of my intentions.

      1. I understand that it would not be a huge benefit for you to do it this way and that is the point. Everything surrounding this situation is about a benefit for you. You auto-followed people to help amass a large following under the banner of connection. Now you are unfollowing that same group of people in the pursuit of real connection. One of these is selfish…maybe both. I’m sure your intentions are for the best, but this is just how it looks from an outsider’s perspective. That is why I proposed starting a new Twitter account. If you didn’t keep the benefit of the large auto-follow-generated audience…it would come across more authentic.

        1. Please don’t think that I believe that auto-follows are the only reason people are following you. I’m sure you have great content, but the auto-follow helped fuel that growth.

        2. Good intentions, but at the same time not foolish enough to walk away from a sizeable audience.  Of course this situation benefits me and only me.  Can’t argue that.  But I wouldn’t have done that if I really thought I was going to upset anyone else which like I mentioned in the blog post was not the case.

  5. Oh, you put way too much faith in my words. Heck, I was just kidding around and wanted to see what would happen if I got you to believe me. 😀

    Just  … Kidding!

    It is a tricky topic, because everybody will see it from a different perspective. As you saw from @twitter-228918333:disqus , he suspected a different view than what you likely expected. In my opinion, the appearance of “Celebrity” was likely not given any thought. I never thought of it like that … so it is easy to imagine that others didn’t either. However, it was his impression, and some others likely thought the same.

    I imagined that your effort was intended to reconnect with people who want to connect with you, and get rid of the unwanted baggage. I can appreciate that. Even if you brought it on yourself, it was probably not what you expected in the beginning … and so you made a correction.

    There are a lot of ways to view the topic, but I certainly cannot see the value in following uninteresting Twitter accounts … for them, or for you. I suspect that a majority of them have not used Twitter since 2009 or 2010 anyway. I don’t think they will miss your “follow love” too terribly.

    1. Your last paragraph is exactly why I did what I did.  It was confirmed to me that a large % of those I was following were actually garbage accounts anyway.  I knew there would be some backlash, and that didn’t really concern me too much or sway my decision.  Hell, in a few weeks nobody is going to remember any of this, and I’ll have a more useful approach to using Twitter moving forward.

    2. I just wanted to share my feeling – I really had no idea it would drive so much conversation. I have made some great connections from this post.  Some agree, some don’t. At the end of the day it was just my opinion and I am lucky to have a place to share it. Cheers

      1. I think that is one of the greatest uses of social media and socal learning.

        Recognizing the varying perspectives of others is a tremendous asset. It brings back a memory of an article I wrote about perspectives. It recounted an instance of varying responses I encountered when I took my family to an air show and we witnessed a plane crash in close proximity.

        A friend a ta local news station asked me for my footage, so I uploaded a video of the performance leading up to and including the crash. It was viewed by tens of thousands of people in a very short time, and it received extreme points of view. There were many points of view, ad it inspired much thought aout perspectives of others.

        In this instance, I recognize and respect your perspective. I had my on, while your was not given thought until you offered it. It goes to show that we cannot and should not presume to know what others think, until we examine multiple perspectives.

        1. In case Jason would like to approve the link to that article on perspectives I mentioned (I would imagine he pre-moderates links), here it is. It was a bit raw, as I wrote it soon after the instance occurred. All the same, I think it has some value to consider.

          The article is titled “Paradigm Shifting, Initial Perceptions, and Marketing Communication”. I wouldn’t call it “fantastic”, but I think it had some good food for thought.
          http://www.awebguy.com/2011/08/paradigm-shifting-marketing-communication/

  6. Jason, aloha. It is with much interest that I have been following the Twitter Purge from post to post. 

    Putting aside the issue of “to purge or not to purge,” in my opinion, you have done social media right.  You said what you were doing and why you were doing it–not that you “owed” anyone an explanation.  Then, when posts came out re the “purge,” you responded candidly to the various points without becoming angry or defensive or obnoxious.  To me, that is the mark of a professional.

    Each of us is entitled to our own opinion and to do what we believe is best for us.  How we respond to others when they question us, reveals our character and, Jason, your’s is sterling.

    Best wishes for a fantastic week ahead, Jason.  Until next time, aloha.  Janet

  7. Jason Hi, 

    again i support your action! Your presence on social platforms is your own choice.There is no rules to who you need to follow.  I did follow the Twitter Purge post quite closely and I disagree with the attack on unfollowing. What some did is exactly  what they were saying some “Social Media Stars” did in the past. They were calling out for attention. I read a comment that Social Media is about random, open and supportive. I get, and I agree on supportive part, but only till we support people / followers with   common interests. We are talking about communities and needs of communities that we belong to. Being random is paradox to supportive. What you did is exactly what I did back in may of this year,  when i did my comeback to twitter. I did unfollow everyone and started all over again, and I dont regret it at all. You open yourself to more engagement and making social good. And I personally give you big credits for doing your Twitter Purge. You were transparent and responsible in your action.   

    1. Thanks for the support. If anything all of this has inspired some great conversation and insight. It will be interesting to see how others might move forward in how they use the platform, and hopefully my transparency around it might help others make the right choices for them.

  8. Super post.

    Your post assumes I unfollowed to make some kind of number look better. I did it for spam, and chose not to refollow a hundred thousand people because I like actually being able to see my tweets for once. Beyond that, pretty neat. 

  9. I was pretty shocked at the hate I raised from unfollowing some people. I had a decent barrage of, “WHY DID YOU STOP FOLLOWING ME?!?!” Does it sting that bad to lose a follow? Glad I do not take it personally.

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