Jason Yormark

The Great Twitter Purge of 2011 Or Why I Have Decided To Unfollow Everyone & Start Over

The time has finally come.  I think I always knew that I’d have to do some sort of Twitter house cleaning, but based on my last blog post, and some folks like Michael Hyatt and the mighty Chris Brogan who have pioneered by braving the backlash, I think I’m ready for a purge myself.  So starting today, I begin unfollowing everyone on Twitter with the help of SocialOomph.

Up to this point, I’ve subscribed to the reciprocal follow approach.  You follow me?  Well then I follow you.  Why not?  I’ve always used lists to curate my Twitter information, so the size of my following wasn’t all that much of a concern of mine.  Over the years it’s allowed me to grow a sizeable Twitter audience.  But at what expense?

Because of this approach, DM usage is out of the question.  I’m sure I probably lose legitimate messages sent to me because they are buried in spam.  It also pretty much makes Twitter a broadcast channel for me and not much of an engagement channel.  Certainly I’ve benefited in this in driving a decent amount of traffic to my blog, but honestly, I long for being able to actually use Twitter more to engage with folks which currently is much harder to do.

Of course I’m taking some steps to ensure I can follow back the folks I currently wish to stay connected with by creating lists of these users of which I will follow back after the purge.  I’m sure I will get my fair share of real folks that either unfollow me back automatically or manually.  And really, if they were only following me for the follow, that’s not much of a loss.

However I’m sure I will unknowingly unfollow quite a few folks that I would prefer to follow so if you are a casualty of my Twitter purge, please reach out before writing me off completely.

And so it begins.  More to come as I blog about the after effects and how my usage of Twitter evolves after the change.

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.


  1. Jason, i support you with ur action! You might want to use from time to time twitcleaner.com which scan your followers and helps you keep your stream nice and clean. Gives you great break down by bots, spammers, people who dont engage and so on. Good luck with your cleaning season! 

  2. Jason, aloha. My hat’s off to you. Best of luck with you twitter housecleaning.  As Dr. Seuss said so well:

    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

    It’s your twitter account, go for it! Aloha.  Janet

  3. If I create a list, and place people on that list, I will see that “list’s” timeline, correct?

    Or if I decide to follow someone else’s list, I will see the timeline of people on that list, whether I follow them or not. Is that correct?

    Im not 100% sure, but I think above statements are correct. So, it seams that Twitter allows you to follow people’s timelines (via lists) whether you follow them or not. So what does a Follow mean?

    I think a Follow’s only purpose is to make the other person feel warm and fuzzy.

    Am I missing something?

    1. I’m fairly certain what you describe is accurate.  As far as I know, lists and their corresponding timelines are viewable regardless of whether you follow the the creator’s of those lists.

    2. Yes, Dino, you’re missing something.

      Substitute “follow” for “respect.”

      The only reason I follow people is because I respect them. If I automatically follow those who follow me, where’s the respect?

      1. Ari, I think you’re exactly right.

        Following someone shows respect, I couldnt agree more. Conversely, NOT following someone shows lack of respect for that person.

        Which is why people feel very emotional about not being followed. You’re basically sending them a message saying “I dont respect you”.

        1. I don’t know if you’re following me on Twitter, Dino, because you’ve never replied to me or retweeted me. If you don’t acknowledge my existence, how am I supposed to know (and respect) you followed me?

          1. It’s hard to respect several thousand people based on a few 140 character tweets, no? Just saying…

          2. My point is Twitter is an asynchronous networking site. You can follow me and unless I choose to receive notifications of people following me and/or monitor that list I’ll never know. This is why auto following is bad in my opinion.

            If you choose to follow me, there’s a reason; so send me a message introducing yourself. Prove to me you want to build a relationship, and then I can respond and respect you. But if you follow me and don’t say anything, don’t blame me if I don’t follow back.

        2. I’m often surprised to find out people I don’t follow I’ve been engaging in ongoing conversations with – it’s a great platform that you can start the relationship without having to make a statement. 

        3. Oh crap, Dino. Now I feel really awful for disrespecting so many millions of people. I didn’t wave at hundreds of people on the street today, either. Man, never trust a dude with so much “disrespect” … now that I see it your way, I’m feeling like a real jerk. 😉

  4. Jason you do not need to worry about DM Spam if you use @optmeout I follow around 47,000 people and get less than 10 unwanted DMs a week. Has been like this for 2 years

  5. Jason, perhaps there is another topic which better addresses the heart of the matter, that is: Twitter has grown into something more than what it was ever intended to be and is showing its deficiencies as it grows. 

    When I first joined Twitter, I couldn’t help think “This is all the rage? What a stupid website”.  I am not alone in that sentiment.  Given the usage and dropoff rates from Twitter, that’s the overwhelming reaction as well.  To me, Twitter can be useful and interesting but I never liked it like Facebook.

    If social networking consumes as much technical assistants from other websites to control, manage and enhance the original service as Twitter does, one has to question “just how ‘social’ is this really?” In my opinion, it’s hardly at all anymore, it’s just become a channel to broadcast to the world and does an ok job at reflecting trends and moods.  But the sense that there is an individual behind each twitter account seems very abstract and distant now. 

    1. I think that at least 50% of the supposed Twitter drop off rate of 60% who don’t return  a month after setting up an account is a combination of people who set up two accounts – like a company name and a real name or personal account, then never use one of them, combined with people abandoning the account they used when they 1st started Twitter – and wanting to start fresh, the rest is spammer’s abandoned accounts. Just my two cents

    2. Agreed, Twitter is definitely less dependable as an engagement channel as say a Facebook.  The barrier to entry is much lower so it’s obviously easier for dummy accounts to be created.  However, as long as their is a sizeable audience, I feel like it’s still worth the time if used properly, which based on this blog post, is always an evolving art.

    1. I’ve never really understood the concept of protected Tweets or how that would be valuable.  I would never do that for myself, but I suppose their may be rare instances where some organizations might find value with only sharing to a protected audience.

  6. An interesting experiment – I wish you well and will be interested to read what you learn. One thing I find ironic, is that one of the related posts that was served up by your blog after your post…it was YOUR post on Twitter Etiquette from 2009 where you articulated why you follow everyone back. Link: Twitter Etiquette: Should You Follow Everyone That Follows You?

    Maybe not ironic, actually, reading the two together shows how we can evolve in out relationship to these new tools.  As I said good luck – one thing about Twitter is that many people see it through their own lens, and assume that others see/use it that way too, or that they should. Yes there are some guidelines we wish people would follow, but often we find that my guidelines may be someone else’s pet peeves.

    Cathy Larkin

    1. Yes, definitely a contradiction from my 2009 post, but much as changed since then.  I don’t think my experience is that uncommon.  I’m bound to lose quite a few followers, but like it’s been said before, the positives will probably outweigh the negatives in that I can manage Twitter more effectively and connect with others more easily.

  7. I did it … I just know I did it … I suckered you into believing that the absurdity of implied reciprocity was not worth it, and that the Twitter follower frenzy had its roots in evil. Now you will really suffer the wrath of hateful spammers unfollowing you and breaking your spirit. Try not to cry as the spam bots ravage you with their hateful unfollowing.

    OK, maybe not, but I definitely cast my two cents your way. Now, if you unfollow me, I am going to call your mother! 😀

  8. I think it sure is a great move Jason, something that even Chris is liking after having cleared his Twitter account, only to start it all over again. And I think by doing so, you can be much more organized and choose your followers such that you can relate to them. 

    Glad you went ahead with it 🙂

      1. Well hopefully my upcoming post “Why I’m Dumping My Facebook Page Likes For Profile Subscribers” will spark your interest??? Or “Later YouTube, Vimeo Is Getting My Video Uploads”???

  9. I’m with @jkcallas:disqus , supporting with what you’ve decided to do. (Actually what we really mean is, if you unfollow us, we’ll hunt you down buddy). 

    Do update us as well, like what Chris Brogan did. For me, I’m still a list guy, I follow tons of list. Cheers

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