Defriending, unfollowing, decluttering your social profiles

I have been on Twitter and Facebook for almost 10 years now. Like most folk in social media; I am a social person. I love my social connections. I want to connect and be connected to (who doesn’t want to be liked?).

The trouble is that I am now following or friends with quite a large number of people (there was a phase of social media when it was polite to follow everyone back). In fact, so many people that my Twitter feed flew along so fast that I had to pause it to see what was going on.

Worse than the volume of noise, I was missing posts from close friends, key insights from influencers and industry trends. There was no sense to the community around me and I wasn’t really able to engage properly.

With 2016 on the horizon, it felt like the right time to declutter my social profiles. Hard for someone who likes to connect. But after much angst, I did it. And it has been brilliant. Why? Because:

  1. I have greater engagement with high quality relationships (I got rid of all the pitchy, broadcasters for starters)
  2. There is such delight in rediscovering valued personal connection and proper conversations (I am sure they have already noticed)
  3. There is a joy in reading feeds that now gently flow with content that actually means something to me!

And one final benefit:  uncovering tweeters where there is no relationship, but plenty of distraction

So what did I do to clean up my profiles?

Lists are the way to sort the rich seams of content

If you use a social media management tool like Tweetdeck, then lists are a fantastic way to sort the wheat from the chaff. They allow you to create collections of Twitterers. So you can list influencers, or media, or leaders or those you met at an event. I also have lists with members by different topics such as B2B or social data. Better still, I don’t always have to follow them on my main feed to add them to a list.

The downside is that they are not easily accessible on the Twitter mobile app.

In addition to lists and interests on Facebook (which are a bit of a challenge to toggle between), you can prioritise people in your timeline. Meaning I will always get to see a post from close family and besties.

Deep breath, and unfollow or defriend

Cutting connections is actually terrifying. It feels disloyal. I have to confess it took me several runs to work out how best to do this. On Twitter, after several attempts, I set out some criteria and then went through all those I followed. This included:

  • Was the profile active (found a few abandoned ones)
  • Was the profile a fake accounts (ashamed to say there were a few)
  • Was the content relevant to me (personally or from a work perspective)

I lost a few follows myself in the process – clearly they were follows based on reciprocity and not because followers liked what I had to tweet about.

It was tougher still on Facebook to cut the ties. It is where my connections are closer and more personal. But I decided that if someone hadn’t engaged with me for a year, they couldn’t be that close really! These were done with a grimace. But no one shouted at me!

Don’t Bot. Never Bot

Tempted though I was, I didn’t resort to an automated process. I did it manually. Actually quite a cathartic rainy Sunday job.

I worked hard to build connections, if I was going to unfollow or unfriend, then I would at least check out what they were talking about. It seems like automation was too indifferent and not discerning enough for me.

Mute or hide is kinder

There are some folk you just can’t defriend. Relatives tend to fall into this category along with people you have met (and might meet again). When posts were absolutely not relevant to me (the main criteria), but I didn’t want to cause embarrassment, I muted or hid them.

So before the year is out, I urge you to declutter your personal profiles. It will renew your social vigour and set you up nicely for next year. Better still you will build better more fruitful relationships.

Oh and remember, I am your friend with really relevant content – so don’t unfollow me … pleeeese 🙂

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