Tony Baldasaro just unfollowed 5,000 people on Twitter

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Tony Baldasaro blogged yesterday that he just unsubscribed from every single person on Twitter that he was following. All 5,000 of them. He is starting again from scratch, deciding anew whom to follow. Here’s the comment that I left him:

I concur with Chris Lehmann. Use Twitter the way it feels right to you.

My usage is more like Chris’, I believe. I am following nearly 4,500 and am followed by many more. Here’s the way I think about those two groups:

1. Following – I don’t subscribe to celebrities or other sources that are less informational, but I do subscribe to anyone that might feed me good resources that I’ll care about. I then organize them into lists and/or use hashtags to categorize the incoming information. I don’t mind if there’s a lot of other stuff in my streams besides resources. I’m getting pretty adept at scanning a column in Hootsuite, spotting the stuff I want, and ignoring the rest. I’m not concerned about how many I’m following because I figure that the 2 seconds it took for me to subscribe to someone may pay off a month from now when that person shares something in which I’ll find value. The bigger my net, the more chance I have of catching something useful. I think about Twitter like fishing in a fast-moving river: I don’t worry about all of the fish I missed but I’m always delighted about the ones that I do catch!

2. Followers – I primarily use my Twitter account to share out resources. 90%+ of what I tweet out is a link to something I saw online and thought was interesting or useful: a quote, blog post, web site, new report, video, someone else’s tweet, etc. About 9% of my Twitter use is conversations with other people, and the remaining 1% might be occasional silliness (like the couple of Halloween pics I tweeted last evening). That ratio seems to be working well for me and, I guess, my followers since my numbers keep growing and my stuff keeps getting reshared (which I want because I want to reach people and be helpful).

I looked at the new, short list of people that you’re now following. That’s a great group that’s guaranteed to feed you awesome stuff (I also found a couple of folks I thought that I was following but wasn’t so thank you!). I’m honored to be on that list; please know that I am appreciative. I’ll look forward to our continued interactions in the Twittersphere.

All my best.

Tony’s post reminds us that social networks are like gardens (thank you, David Warlick). They require some nurturing and, yes, some pruning now and then. Sometimes they may even be like prairies, requiring a full burn to nurture new, positive growth. Head on over to Tony’s post and join the conversation: How do you decide whom you follow on Twitter?

Image credit: Bigstock, Blue bird

4 Responses to “Tony Baldasaro just unfollowed 5,000 people on Twitter”

  1. My favorite people to follow are those that are courageous, straight forward, and willing to disagree with my perspective. I learn nothing when someone agrees with my viewpoint. However, only about 2% fall in this category. This is how my PLN breaks down.

    About 15% of my PLN influence through trust and commitment.

    These influencers are the voices within your PLN that you trust and listen to most. You not only subscribe to their blog, but you crave their next post. Their tweets are of purpose and frequently cause you to think critically. Within only 140 characters, they can compel you to put a new idea into action. They’re usually the same people whose content you’re constantly watching get retweeted and whose blogs get more comments and visits in a day than yours get in a month. It’s these people who are always being referenced in other people’s tweets and posts. You can tweet out a question, and it’s these influencers who provide a valid response within only minutes. These are the people you intentionally consider before sending out your own tweet or blog post hoping that you’ll be handsomely rewarded when it’s your content they’re blasting out to their thousands of followers.

    About 2% of my PLN influence through straightforwardness and courage.

    These influencers are extremely rare. They are the people who not only cause you to think daily but many times differently. They courageously and willingly engage in connected, uncomfortable, conversations. These are those people who are not afraid to disagree and share their differing viewpoint. They take the time to politely acknowledge one’s perspective and boldly provide a reasonable counterclaim through rational comments, tweets, or direct messages. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They have a way of causing discomfort which inspires others to rethink expectations and perceptions in which many times lead to a change in belief. They focus on influencing the influencers. In short, they work hard on growing your knowledge.

    Dr. McLeod, I follow your blog and read your work. Many times you have caused me to think differently. You are part of my 2% within my PLN along with Bill Ferriter, Joe Bower, and a VERY few others. I would love for you to share your 2%. Shawn

  2. I have also taken a long, hard look at those that I follow. Our district recently had George Couros present on social media and connecting as leaders. I wrote a post (less inspired than your post) on why I unfollowed George.
    For me, I have moved my twitter from collecting ‘followers’ (which didn’t make me a leader) towards following back channels that were interesting (#whyschool, #bclearns, #edchat…). I still follow some people that send ideas out that I find useful and local educators to find out what is happening in my area.
    I believe that other people in my district can follow and re-tweet ideas, thoughts to keep me connected.
    I am not yet confident enough, though to stop following too many people. It feels like I am giving up a friend, even if I have never responded or commented on their posts.
    Thanks for this!

  3. I follow real educators and tend to stay away from foundations and PR junk sites who aren’t real. I like real teachers no matter how many followers they have because I’d like to be able to message them and them message me back. I also like to follow people who are engaging in conversation and have interesting things to say. Sometimes if people don’t follow me back and I know I won’t need to message them or them me, I’ll unfollow and put them on a list instead.

  4. Good for Tony – people have the right to choose the way they manage information, and there is no one right way. However, the reason that I choose to follow many people is that I rarely look to the stream and use who I follow to gain a more valid/useful aggregate when using tools like Paper.li, Zite, Flipboard, and other social aggregators. Mass data makes a difference when relying on the social metrics of the whole (the 1000s’ of teachers I follow).

    I dip in and out of the stream when I want to engage with people, so I still have that. I use lists if I need a narrower approach to select voices. As well, I have the ability to see the big picture (via mass follows + social aggregators). Data and relationships are complex, and I choose to view these from multiple angles.

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