Twitter Tools and the Art of Un-Following

Here are some tools I use to improve my, and hopefully my followers’, Twitter experience, and some thoughts on un-following, based on an article I read today.

Sharing Interesting Articles

One of the first things any Twitter user should do is to figure out how you can add value to other users.  Not only because that will lead to a better experience for you, but also because the more value you add, the more followers you will acquire over time.  Which leads to more interaction, which improves the experience, etc.  As part of this process, I wanted a way to add my “Interesting Reading Elsewhere” list of shared items from Newsome.Org to my Twitter feed.  I have a good reading list and believe that I can add value by directing readers to the most interesting posts and articles.  I use Google Reader to save my shared items, which means that I generally add several items to the list whenever I read my feeds.  And since I read my feeds anywhere from zero to three times a day, I can go days without sharing anything, or I can share lots of items at once.  I don’t want to pull a Kawasaki, because there is a definite marginal utility to blasting links on Twitter.  So I wanted to add a couple of items an hour, at most.

My answer for this is Twitterfeed.  Twitterfeed allows you to add items from any RSS feed to your Twitter feed.  You pick the frequency of these additions (I picked every half hour), how many of the new items in the RSS feed get pushed to your Twitter feed (I picked up to 2), whether to include just the title or the title and a description (I use the title only), a link shortening service (I use TinyURL) and a prefix for the Twitter post (I use “Interesting:”).  It took about 5 minutes to set up, after which up to four of my shared items get pushed into my Twitter feed each hour (though in practice it ends up being only a handful a day).


Twitterfeed is free, although donations are encouraged (I donated a few bucks).  I would almost certainly pay for a premium account, because Twitterfeed is very useful.

Tracking Your Follows

For enhanced Twitter email notifications, I use Topify.  Once you sign up at Topify, you use your Topify generated email address as your Twitter address, and Topify notifies you via email of new follows and more.  It tells you whether you already follow the person, sets forth in the email the person’s last few Tweets and allows you to follow them back merely by replying to the email.  It sounds and is pretty simple, but it really improves the Twitter experience.  I hope Topify adds the ability to track who un-follows you at some point.

Topify is also free.  A few more features would make a premium account worth a couple of bucks a month.

Wallowing in Your Un-Follows

Since Topify doesn’t notify you of the people who un-follow you, you need another service for that.  For this, I use Qwitter.  Qwitter is about as simple as a service can be.  Add your Twitter credentials and Qwitter will email you when someone un-follows you.  I have found Qwitter to be very sporadic.  I won’t get any emails for days and then I’ll get several at one time.  Since I doubt multiple people are un-following me at the same instant, Qwitter must be accessing my Twitter data on some regular or irregular schedule and blasting out emails afterwards.  I’m not interested in trying to track which of my Tweets run people off, so getting a bunch of emails every now and then is fine with me.

Generally, I find that most of my un-followers are obvious multi-level marketers, spammers or others who I have elected not to follow back.  Knowing who un-follows me is not all that important to me, but I’m interested enough to use Qwitter.  I doubt I’d pay for it, however.


I guess that’s the end of the road for the Wagon Train.  Bummer.

And About Un-Following

Don Reisinger posts 8 reasons why he will un-follow someone on Twitter.  Here are my quick thoughts on this list.

If you follow him merely because he follows you.  When someone follows me, I look at their Twitter page and unless they are obvious spammers or multi-level marketers, I’ll generally follow them back, at least initially.  After that, they stay on my list or not based on the content of their Tweets.  I agree with Don that schemes to garner followers is gaming the system.  Why would I want several thousand followers who don’t share any of my interests?

You’re a company that doesn’t contribute to the community.  I think he’s talking about people who are clearly only there to advertise their goods, and not to add any additional value.  I agree.  The other day someone followed me who posts a link to their store at the end of every single Tweet.  I did not follow him back.

You’re a music lover (to a fault).  I don’t agree that music posts are not “real content.”  I guess no music post could be as fun or important as this:


I actually like music content better than a bunch of navel gazing about the latest social networking non-feature.  I know at least one other person who agrees with Don, though.  The bottom line is that people should try to populate their Twitter content with stuff that interests them.  I think Don should chill out to a little Europe ’72, but what do I know?

You’re an adult film star, cursing fool, bot or celebrity imposter.  I can combine those four into one big “amen.”  I would even delete the word “imposter.”  I’m not much of a celebrity worshipper offline or on.  Having said that, I think @mrskutcher provides good Twitter value, notwithstanding that she’s a celebrity.

You’re a constant updater.  Don wants to hear from you in small doses.  I think my tolerance is higher than his, but I agree that some people can over-share.

All in all, a pretty good list.

So now that we’ve figured all this out, how about following me on Twitter?