Twitter: Cleaning up Your Followers List

by Ron on June 29, 2009


I was talking to a guy recently about Twitter, and he was complaining that Twitter was too much work. He said he had to constantly monitor who was following him. When I told him he was in complete control of his followers because he could block anyone he wanted to, he said he didn’t have time to check his list and he worried (as a marketing executive) that the list could reflect badly on him.

We’ve written before about the importance of the quality of your followers over quantity (see Outside of a Small Circle of Friends). That’s why it’s important to review your followers list and weed out ones you don’t want. Remember, your followers’ list is public, and as this marketing executive pointed out,  it can reflect on you. There are a number of spammer types out there including an increasing amount of porn Spam, and you should probably block these people and avoid any possible embarrassment (unless of course you don’t care).

There are a couple of strategies you can undertake here: filter or tag your email to keep your new followers in a single place, then block people you don’t want following you.

Organizing Your Email

One of the best ways to begin to control your Twitter Followers’ list is to create a mailbox/folder and set up a filter so that all new follower emails get dumped in this folder. Then you can check the folder every couple of days, review your followers and block the ones you don’t like (or follow the ones you do). This works a little differently in each email program, so I’m not going to describe the process here, but check the Online Help for email program for information on setting up a new folder or mail box and creating a filter.

Blocking the Ones You Don’t Like

When you get a new follower, click through to their profile If you see one you would prefer weren’t following you, follow these instructions:

  1. Click the Block link in the Action section on the right side of the window. A window opens asking if you’re sure you wish to take this action
  2. If you’re sure, click OK I Still Want to Block This Person.

What Blocking Means

When you block someone it means:

  • You will no longer show up in the list of people followed by Spammer
  • Your updates won’t show up on Spammer’s timeline
  • Spammer will not be able to follow you

It’s prudent to clean up your list from time to time and this should provide a system to make it fairly easy to do that.

Photo courtesy of AngeSoleil (aka Tweng) on Flickr.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Holly June 29, 2009 at 9:22 am

How to tell a spammer:
They follow many people but have few followers.
They post few, short, vague tweets.
Their tweets are mostly links with little explanation but big claims.
“Free X Box, free computer, free WII, get thousands of followers, make thousands a year, etc.”
Their profile is vague. Their picture looks too commercial–photoshopped, too sexy.

2 Ron June 29, 2009 at 9:41 am

Right. That’s a nice addition, Holly. Usually it’s pretty clear, especially with the porn. They come right out and say it or the picture is over the top porn (although usually a bit more subtle). Thanks for the comment.

3 Gil Gonzalez June 29, 2009 at 10:45 am

I have found that TweetSum is an effective tool for managing followers. I check it about once per week to see who’s following me and to determine if I want to follow them back. The informational video is cheesy/funny, but informational in terms of how to use the tool.

4 Ron June 29, 2009 at 10:54 am

Hi Gil:
While it’s hard not to love a tool that measures the quality of followers on a douche bag index (DBI), I simply will not use a tool that requires me to enter my Twitter user name and password no matter how attractive the tool may sound.

Giving up your password to anyone (even if the site promises not to store it because “that would be dumb”) is just a bad idea in principle.

Thanks for the comment and the idea.


5 Julie June 29, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I love that Twitter now shows us at least a little something about our followers in the email alert that tell us they’re following us. (did you follow that?) I don’t actually have to go in and check the bikini clad girl’s twitter page, I can just delete the email and move on. Same goes for people with the Twitter handle: @makemoney or the person following 1000, with 10 followers and 2 updates.

Now if only those email alerts would show us the bios, then I’d be satisfied.

6 Ron June 29, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Just keep in mind that deleting the email doesn’t block the person. You have to click through and explicitly block them.

7 Morriss Partee July 1, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Julie, your marketing executive is not seeing the full picture when he worries about his follower list reflecting badly on him. ANYONE who regularly uses twitter and has many followers will attract more and more of the bad/spammy/porn followers as well as good followers. So he would be no different than anyone else who uses Twitter. Why does he think he’s special in this regard?

While twitter tries to send an email notifying you of every new follower, email itself is a terribly spotty medium, and new followers constantly slip under the radar. At least there are tools for getting rid of bad/spammy/porn followers like Twerp Scan and LessFriends.

8 Ron July 1, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Hey Morris:
Actually it was me (Ron) who wrote this post and I can see his point. The Followers list is public and for someone who doesn’t know Twitter well, it’s possible it could reflect badly on him. By the way, if either of these tools requires me to enter my Twitter password, as I stated earlier I’m not using them. I won’t give out my twitter log-in information to a third-party application, period. I’ve become absolute in this regard. Twitter has to develop a way for applications to communicate with the API that doesn’t require me to enter my password.

9 Tamar July 6, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Thanks! Basic to the point and useful for all the new Twitter users. I find taking a few moments each day to go through all my Twitter messages works great. And I never follow everyone – just those that look interesting. Sometimes I let the odd ones follow until I get bored with them. And I think most folks out there do the same….
Thanks again ms. WritingRoads!

10 Arturs Mednis July 27, 2009 at 7:53 pm

I have another problem – I blocket too many followers, and would like to unblock them. Is there any app or service, i can use for it (i need to unblock few hubdreds).

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