Social Media Savvy: Why I Dumped 50K Twitter Followers

Posted by in Marketing Strategies, Social Media Marketing, Success Habits, Twitter Marketing

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Never in the “IN” Crowd
If you’ll indulge me, I’m going to share a bit of back story. Growing up I was NOT the popular kid in school. I was the straight A student with the Twitter, Social Media Tipsonly B being in PE, the non-social, non-party, super square. I sat in the front of the class because I wanted to learn and got nicknamed the “teacher’s pet.”  I actually did my homework every night and never turned in anything late. I also did all extra credit, needed or not. I was incredibly UNcool, UNhip, UNeverything.

Nomadic Made It Easy
I wasn’t a Geek that would have meant I had a crowd to hang in, I just sort of endured school. We moved a lot (no, not military, mom’s whim) and so I never stayed more than three years and often just one, (it meant seven schools before high school graduation.) Nomadic made me adaptable and also not one to make many friends. Moving was a great excuse for dodging social opportunities. I was a sitting duck for the social media revolution! Here was an arena I could shine in, I could finally discover “popularity.”

Keynote Speaker, Motivational Speaker, Life/Work Balance

On Platform

A Sucker for Recognition
I’ve always been a total sucker for recognition. It is why I love to speak publicly and teach as well. Nary a jitter or a nervous stomach, instead I am energized by the attention. Well there was a hitch, as my Twitter following grew and grew, I was feeling responsible for my followers. How crazy was that? I felt obligated to climb on and indulge in the care and feeding of my followers whether I had much to share or not.

Twitter, Social Media, Engagement

HugMania

The Hug Rut
I fell into a rut so to speak and while it was my content, I indulged in less and less real time interaction, and more and more automated scheduled tweets. It didn’t feel real and still took valuable time.  The tricky part was that many loved my tweets and my interaction consisted of going in 4-5x a day and sending out hugs. I had a bit of fun with it, creating HUG-A-THONS, HUG HERDS, HUG-A-LONGS, HUGFESTS, HUGMANIAS, and all other manner of HUGDOMS, but at the end of the day, I didn’t feel huggable about it all.

Where I Learned to Tweet
Oh and did I mention that I learned to Tweet from the “big boys.” That meant I was told to accept every request, auto-follow back everyone, and follow those similar to me, colleagues always, and thousands more. I was also schooled in the “tools” to grow like Tweetadder. Yes, you can gain an amazing number of totally irrelevant, uninterested followers in a very short time. WOOHOO! Oh and ironically many of those same “big boys” have left Twitter, not as dramatically as I may have with the Big Dump, but they stepped away and left it all there.

Twitter, Social Media, Social MarketingTwitter is a Business Tool
In reality, it made no sense at all. If Twitter is a business tool at all (and it can be a valuable one), why on earth would you follow all of your colleagues except those you genuinely enjoy and interact with? They aren’t going to give you business. (I see this a lot with creative Tweeps especially, social networks are the water cooler, not the prospect connection place.) This is totally okay if that is how you want to invest your time. For me, I prefer my personal relationships to be personal and that means moving them offline to voice to voice and face to face whenever possible (it isn’t always, of course, but that is my goal.)

Ditching the “Dead Weight”
So despite the fact that I had a few hundred out of the massive 50K (and it got as high as 55K) that I really enjoyed, looked forward to and engaged with, I realized the rest was nothing more than “dead” weight. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. I couldn’t figure out how to dump them. I know the tools and a following that large is just kind of unwieldy, no matter how “popular” (remember the childhood story?) I felt. I suddenly had an epiphany that being “online popular” wasn’t all I thought it was and began toying with the idea of dumping it all.

But What About Fame?
Yes, I did have the Forbes Top 20 Women of Influence accolade and that was nice, but didn’t lead to what you might think. Maybe because I didn’t chase it there? Or maybe because like so much in life and business today, there is a new list out almost weekly trumping any old list. Today it is .00005 seconds of fame, not the 15 minutes of yesteryear. (Besides I grew up with a famous mother, there is a high price to pay.)

Twitter, Yin and Yang, Social Media, Social Marketing

Yang

Timing is Everything
The holidays were my catalyst, I struggle through them every year. Putting on a brave face for friends who invite me and I turn them down, preferring the solitude of my own company and my feline family (Yin and Yang.) It is my time to reflect on the year passed and decide how I want to live the year ahead of me. I say struggle because it is the one time of year I can slip easily into melancholy missing family that long ago lost the glue to hold it together (aka my mom who passed 25 years ago.) I decided it was time to unburden myself and having mulled the decision for 90 days, I tripped the switch on New Year’s eve.

Alternatives?
I had a few folks tell me to just change the name of my profile to my own and leave it up and invite everyone over. I didn’t want everyone, just a handful of those who matter most and I’m finding them again and they are finding me. It is a very new experience but a lot more rewarding and fulfilling. I don’t blame social media at all. It has always only been a set of tools, never a solution to what ails anyone personally or professionally. I simply offer this challenge, do you know why you are on Twitter? Do you know if the time you are investing has an ROI or is a black hole of expense whether personally or professionally. Think before you reply.

Numbers Don’t Mean Anything
Oh and know that I still like Twitter, this isn’t a slam at all. It is a plea to those who are clamoring for more followers. WHY? WHY? WHY? I’ve had the great good fortune to meet some very cool Tweeps, to enjoy many coming to my programs and I am honored by that, truly. And the awesome part is, that they are on my private list. I didn’t leave those wonderful folks hanging out there. I invited them to join me and those that wanted to did and still do.

The Light of a New Day
I now tweet under @melissagalt. I don’t climb on every day. I don’t feel obligated. I totally enjoy looking at my followers feeds and retweeting, commenting, and engaging. Sometimes it’s just for fun, other times it is with an agenda, I might be looking for a resource, or announcing a program. (I am A-okay with promoting on Twitter when you provide value content and you are real and not hype.)

Follow Your HeartTwitter, Social Media Social Marketing
I will gladly teach the ins and outs of social marketing and the media tools that make your engine run, simply rest assured that nothing beats the personal touch. And you will go farther faster when you bring your heart to the table, your passion to your purpose, and are selective in who you follow and who you allow to follow you (did you know you had a choice? The block key became a favorite to keep bots out, lol.) Don’t fall into that trap of perceived “popularity.” It’s a time robber for sure and I plan to keep my Twitter following closely in check going forward. Life is much better when the noise is turned down, the clutter abandoned, and the chaos quelled.

I’d love your comments here, this has been awhile in the writing and definitely a little scary to release.

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48 Responses - Join the Discussion!

  1. I’m still amazed by your decision …building something and then killing it. BTW – You still have an image with the Forbes mention on your sidebar. :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      And I’ll keep it there, very deliberate. Recognition is easy to gain, satisfaction and meaning are much harder . . .

      Cheers, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  2. I’m glad I followed your lead and my intuition on this. Since “dumping” the people I didn’t know, I don’t have that feeling like I created another job for myself. I have lost followers, but not a biggie. I am even contemplating deleting the entire thing.

    Since slimming down, I am engaging, but it’s not in my favorite way. I see the benefits of directing traffic to my blog when I have a great post, but otherwise, it’s kinda like a friend you take advantage of and I don’t want to be like that. I will just have to see if Twitter fits into my future at all.

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Hey Alycia,

      At it may not and that is totally okay. Find what works for you, instead of you working for it.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  3. Hey Melissa,

    Thanks for your honesty, your courageous decision and follow-through. Keep on keepin’ on… but without 50,000 pieces of baggage. Travel light!

    Best wishes for a 2011 rich in discoveries, encounters and fun.

    Bises,

    Brian

    Brian

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Thanks Brian,

      It is a journey and an adventure and I’m finding what works for me isn’t necessarily what I learned!

      Hugs to you too, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  4. Marcella Cook

    Hi Melissa,
    I admire you! I’ve tried to learn from you and interact, but it’s been hard with hearsay. I hope I can talk to you, actually talk to you. I do have about 3 different twitter groups because that’s what I do in real life. I’m a farmer, a jeweler, a blogger and above all a wife and mom. There are days where I will tweet very little, and days when I tweet a lot. I don’t pay much attention to my twitter follower list, but if something peaks my interest on a retweet or something that I want to look up, I follow back. I would love to talk to you soon.

    Marcella

    Reply to this comment
  5. Melissa,

    Bravo….I think you found the tenacity to carry through what your instinct was telling you….and what I’m sure many others are feeling but not doing anything about.

    Just my thoughts… I believe, when I tweet or post, that I should be authentic and connect with the people who might make a difference in the world or even in my life.
    It helps if they at make me smile or add some fun and laughter or make me stretch and think.
    Of course I follow many who are in the same profession and we share a natural interest in the same things. This helps us all feel connected in this mad, fast paced world of ours.

    Enjoy your new found freedom.

    Annie
    x

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Thanks Annie,

      Yes, I think you are right, at least that is what I’m hearing.

      Some I’m sure think it was not brave at all, merely stupid. It only has to work for me!

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  6. Elizabeth Stimpert

    I have to say that when I first started trying to figure this twitter thing out just a couple of months ago it started with reading that Forbes list, which resulted in me following you, and I’m glad that I did. Of my dozen or so favorites, ProsperByDesign held about half of them. Although you have dumped the dead weight, the people who are inspired by you will follow and I am glad that you feel authentic this way, I believe you always have been, looking at it from your followers side :) I could not figure out why people are concerned with the number of followers, I like you, think its about the quality and its wonderful to have people who truly want you to succeed and enjoy reading your tweets. Keep up the inspiration Melissa, I’m glad I’ve found you, twice!

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Elizabeth,

      It is people as rare as you are, that made me take the plunge.

      I want to surround myself with those who I can genuinely serve and be of value to and who in turn encourage and fuel me. You are one!

      Thank you for finding me again, it means a lot as I didn’t give anyone much notice!

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  7. Hey Melissa,

    I admire you for putting your vulnerability out there and letting your readers know who you are and what you stand for. I know that takes a tremendous amount of courage. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Alesha,

      Thank you for the encouragement and safe place to do this.

      It was a tricky post to write and sure I could have tinkered further, but perfect wasn’t my point!

      Life is full of crossroads, it is necessary to make the decisions (right or wrong) to move forward.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  8. Melissa, I am totally with you on this. I have become very selective about who I follow back. I’m looking for two types of people: those who might become colleagues, who interact and offer insight, and those who might become clients. If someone follows me and I don’t see our relationship going either route, I don’t follow back.

    I have just over 500 followers, with about 100 I actually keep track of and feel like I know. I’m new in my business, and this feels about right to me. It’s manageable but has brought in some clients.

    When people give formulas like, “You have to have 1,000 Twitter followers before you can expect to get a client out of it,” they’re not taking into account the quality of the followers or the quality of your interactions with them.

    Yay you for starting fresh!

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Hey Sue,

      Good for you, that is the way to do it and sounds like it is working well for you!

      Congratulations for finding your own success formula.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  9. Maurice "Reece" Jennings

    Melissa:

    I’m glad I took the time to read about this part of your journey. You have helped me tremendously, and I will always find you!

    This was a wonderfully brave thing you did here, and I, along with a lot of others I’m sure, appreciate your candor and sharing.

    I have a sign on my Image board:
    AVOID PERFECTION
    I need to see that every day. Who knows whether your
    post was ‘perfect’? With what I learned from your words and thoughts, and the smiles I got from your shared history, I don’t see a need for perfection!

    Thank y ou!!

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Hey Reece!

      Always glad to lead the way and share the lessons I’ve learned with others.

      Perfections is overrated, I got stuck in it for years, now I’m unstuck!

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  10. Hi Melissa,

    Wow, what a great post! I agree; a huge following in twitter is not the end-all to success many folks believe it is. I have 50 some odd thousand myself.

    I think another thing is that twitter has changed a lot in the past 2 years.

    18 months ago a great tweet of mine might get a dozen or more retweets (when I had half the followers I do now)…now, the same type of tweet may only get one or two RT’s. This tells me people are not as focused on it as they used to be when ALL it’s numbers were smaller. I think there is too much clutter now twitter-wide probably.

    I don’t know if I could ever pull the plug like you did. But I have to say it has crossed my mind a time or two in recent months.

    ….am following you now on your other account.

    Take care,
    Steve Webe

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Steve,

      I am honored, you are one of the few I consider to be “true blue.” And that is meant as a sincere compliment.

      Every once in awhile I think I must have been crazy but it was the right thing to do for me. I have a lot more to discuss and talk about moving forward, there is excess in way too many parts of our lives today.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  11. Melissa,

    I unfollowed almost all my followers a few months ago. I decided to be more picky about who I follow back. I want to grow organically and I encourage my clients to do the same. Unfortunately all the hype is still about how many followers you have. I remind my clients that we want quality over quantity. It does no good to have thousands of followers who really aren’t interested in what you have to say.

    So good for you in making the move you did!

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Tracey,

      Perhaps you can share the story of the Top 20 Woman of Influence on Twitter who dumped them all!

      Also take a look at Connie Ragan Green and Big Money, Small List. It isn’t how many, it is how hot.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  12. Melissa:

    I guess I thought it was my generation gap with Twitter that made me question its value. But I am so pleased to hear you say what I have been thinking for a while. We have been paying an outside comapny to handle our Facebook and Twitter and I felt it was not providing any real results.

    I get it that the internet is a great tool, but I believe it needs to generate information or keep you in touch with those that really count to you.

    Thank you for helping me clarify how twitter and Facebook should fit.

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Mary,

      I’m not a fan of those outside companies generally speaking. They charge too much and unless you are monitoring their activities and checking results, you aren’t getting enough ROI.

      Social media is social and relies on personal contact not impersonal third party.

      Glad you are learning this as are so many.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  13. Melissa,

    Here is a photo:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mylastsigh/334289352/

    Bruce

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Thanks Bruce,

      I commented though might have gotten out before it showed. I’m not used to being “verified.”

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  14. Melissa,

    I agree with you completely. I find it overwhelming to keep up with even my approx. 2000 followers. I have thought about adding automation, except I resist because the people I have met on Twitter, many of whom I now know IRL, I still want to build relationships with them.

    I have always been more about quality than quantity – I was the school geek! But over the last year, and social media was part of the reason I got sucked up in this frenzy, I was all about how many people I could meet. All that got me was a lot of followers and a lot of business cards.

    As the new year started, I took a lot of time to rethink my model. I am going back to my strengths. I am a relationship builder and there are only so many hours in the day. I chose 30 people IRL, who I really want to work with and am focusing my efforts on building those relationships. I also spend a lot less time on social media while I figure it all out.

    Thanks for your lead and insight. I’ll make sure to follow you under your new TW name.

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Hey Catherine,

      You are on path with passion and purpose and very smart to be doing it as you are. I think many got caught up in the frenzy the last two years and are now sorting it out.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  15. Wow Melissa!
    Thank you for being so honest and open…I love that you shared some of your story. You let us in deeper than usual (like you intro on tele-seminars). I really appreciate and am happy to know you just a little bit more. I could never figure out why having such a huge twitter following was a good thing…I thought something was wrong with me. When you announced your bug dump, I knew it was ok to dump my mere 1600 followers. Thank you so much for sharing this…and bugger us not always better, or what it looks like from the outside. What a great story…thank you again!

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Jennifer,

      Glad you were inspired! Many got caught up in the frenzy of the last two years and many are still caught. I’m glad I stepped out of the madness and am returning to a reality I embrace and enjoy.

      More to come in the reveal.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  16. Choking back the tears as I reply.
    I have been mulling over these very same issues.
    Thank you for sharing so candidly. You have prompted me to act on my instincts & follow suit.

    Warm regards,

    Gracie

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Gracie,

      Wow, I had no idea this was such a big chord for so many.

      I had a friend once say I was BRAVE owning my own business; I often dismiss that with an “I’m either brave or stupid.” I tend to do what works best for me even when it takes me awhile to get there and this did.

      I kind of figure if I needed to give myself the permission to do this, there are others that need that same permission.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  17. Diamond

    I love this article Melissa and I love you. :-)

    Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you. ~
    H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Thanks Diamond,

      Your appreciation is deeply valued as are YOU!

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  18. You are such a great writer Melissa! Love your honesty and style of expression!

    Something I’ve found useful w/out having to follow, is that if I see a site/blog/tweep I like and they fall in one of my list categories of intereste, I can add them to the list. I don’t get all their updates in my feed and then if I’m on Twitter and looking for what is new in “web design”, for example, I just click on that list and I can quickly scan the updates for that particular category.

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Great idea Sarah!

      My bad is that I find I don’t look at my lists often enough there is so much new stuff coming down the pike.

      I prefer to keep an eye on feeds and will likely be revamping my freindfeed for that purpose.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
      • That is true but if they really strike me once I figure I may want to look to them again. Sooo, when I’m looking for some new info on that subject, its sort of like my “go-to” list that is likely to point me in the right direction. I don’t look at them everyday. I guess its my version of bookmarking on Twitter

        Reply to this comment
        • Melissa Galt

          That sounds like the zillions I have favorited and not sorted.

          Again I admire your organization, I’m not there yet!

          Hugs, Melissa

          Reply to this comment
  19. Deborah

    I will be following suit shortly. Being really ill during the last quarter, of 2010, perspective has been restored and authenticity more desirable. Thanks for leading the way.

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Deborah,

      So sorry to hear you’ve been ill. Sometimes it takes something of that ilk to wake us up to what we need most.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  20. Hi Melissa,
    Thank You for just being you. I have totally enjoyed reading each and every one of you post that I received.

    Ok I admit it , I subscribed to your list, because I was curious and now I really get-it …

    You see I thought that I was the only one going through the thoughts about all of those followers;

    That I didn’t want To Let them Down. Until I found a Program I think it’s called Karma and I’m not even sure if it’s around any more.

    But, to get to the point which is that there were over 2,679 people who weren’t even around to post for more than 130 days to over a year.
    So that is when I had the same guiding light show me as you.
    Guess what . I clean my list weekly and check each and every one I follow by hand or should I say Click.
    Thanks, sorry about getting long winded.
    OnlineDon

    P.S. Now I can go on with my passion and purpose of helping others…

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Hey Don,

      I recognize those binoculars and will look to follow you anew @melissagalt.

      It is a relief to know I wasn’t a lone and the outpouring of support as well as those inspired has been great. I know Twitter Karma and used to use it but it stopped working well once I past 10K.

      Valuable lessons to be learned always.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  21. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve been thinking about unfollowing quite a number but hesitated till now. Thanks for the nudge.

    Reply to this comment
    • Melissa Galt

      Jennifer,

      I used to say quite often “he who hesitates is lost.” Then I sat around hesitating so had to stop saying it. Now I’m back in motion.

      Glad I could nudge helpfully.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  22. Thanks so much for sharing this article Melissa! Grateful to Barbara for telling me about it last night.

    Appreciate your question “Do you know if the time you are investing has an ROI or is a black hole of expense whether personally or professionally.”

    All too often people rush to add another social tool to their daily routine and after time it becomes a chore rather than a joy.

    Over the last year I have found that I have certain social tools that I prefer over others and have abstained from the peer pressure to join all of the new and shiny social networks.

    Thankfully I take what I call #SMFS (social media free Sundays) that are often whole weekends – these tech free days are my time to recharge by myself, with family and friends. Not everything needs to be shared and not every friend request needs to be accepted.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I appreciate your perspective and insight on the social currency of “popularity”.

    Reply to this comment
    • Thanks Danielle,

      Glad this resonated and provided some insights.

      The internet can be a wild ride, sometimes worthwhile, sometimes time wasting!

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment
  23. Great article Melissa. I decided right from the start that I wanted Twitter to grow organically. And that is exactly what is happening with my StresstoEnergy acct. But when I made the mistake of hiring an assistant who followed everyone back that followed me on my first and main VitalityDoctor acct, it became insane with spam and pornography – and with a ton of folks who follow you, then as soon as you follow back, they unfollow, all in the name of building an impressive list of followers, while they appear to follow very few. A complete game!

    So I have been going through and gradually eliminating all of the followers that do not match my values, interests and life philosophy on my main acct. Not a total acct dump as you did – but a big dump of the dead weight – and self-serving spammers. Still a lot more to do. But the connections are becoming more and more meaningful over time. And I’m enjoying Twitter much more as a result of this – and also the releasing of the pressure on myself to be there everyday, several times a day. I get on when I have the time to be there – and have something of value to contribute. Or just want to be inspired by some of the amazing contributions made by others…

    Thank you for your honesty, transparency and wisdom Melissa…
    Hugs
    Marilyn
    Marilyn recently posted..Inspirational Words of Wisdom from Zig ZiglarMy Profile

    Reply to this comment
    • Thanks Marilyn,

      Yes I tend to go to extremes, lol. Glad you found your path and are sticking with it. It does make Twitter a lot more fun and meaningful.

      Hugs, Melissa

      Reply to this comment

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