I recently wrote a post called Unfollowing People. It was the result of being frustrated from looking into my Twitter stream and seeing the same people kissing the same ass, sharing the same information they’ve always shared and generally just being the kinds of people I probably wouldn’t care much about in real life. This is not to say that I’m a dick, nor that all those people are jerks. I just felt like these people were cluttering my little brain. I don’t spend as much time on Twitter as I once did, and so when I go there to swim around – I like to share the water with friends. Yes, I have Tweetdeck and yes I use columns, but still – I felt like following people I really don’t like very much in general was something like selling out for numbers.

So I started unfollowing people. But then something amazing happened. People started reading and commenting on the post, and sharing it on Twitter. More than 1800 people viewed the original post on 300Words, so it was obvious that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way about clutter in their streams.

A couple of the comments on the page resonated with me. There’s actually value in following people you don’t engage with. What? It’s true. Part of the beauty of Social Media is its potential reach. Even if the people I enjoy following represent a diverse range of human beings (demographics/psychographics), my direct network is limited to these people (and of course their respective networks.) If I needed to find an XYZ Programmer, for example, I’m looking to my network first. If I don’t follow anyone like this, I have to depend on people who I do NOT follow.

For me, it felt like 80% of the people I followed weren’t very engaging.

Let me back up a second. It’s been my tactic to follow everyone back who engages with me. And if I haven’t, I apologize. So, if I have to rely on people I don’t follow – their recommendations are unqualified in terms of their credibility to me. This goes for any kind of appeal by the way – not just HR needs. Unless your account is locked down, or you have the time to vet every single follower, you don’t control who follows you.

I stopped the unfollowing genocide about midday yesterday, and thought about things. How could I manage this? It was terribly time consuming, and unfollowing people felt like bad karma. Despite this, I still need some sanity. Only, I developed a very solid network over the past two years (not to mention an impressive klout score – whatever that means.) And I couldn’t possibly unfollow everyone who never engaged me. Twitter can’t be that personal.

The solution? I started a new account – @jmitchem. If you want to follow me there, great. Just know, this isn’t about numbers. As anyone who has spent any time in this space knows, numbers distort credibility. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at most of the so-called gurus with tens of thousands of followers and then peruse the content they share. No, I don’t want this to be about numbers. It’s about a fresh start and continuing some great relationships with people I’ve come to love. And yes, I know I’m risking a pretty huge network that took two years to develop, but I’ve got to do this for my own sanity. Plus, my name isn’t smashadv.

Anyway, I’m hopeful that this new account will result in more meaningful relationships and continued opportunity to learn from really smart people. Yes, I’ll still keep @smashadv for the big networking stuff, and yes, this whole thing could backfire – but I really look forward to this new chapter. I’m still the same guy.


Jim Mitchem/@jmitchem

NOTE: I own several iterations of my name and my company’s name as twitter handles. I can’t just ‘switch’ my handle because Twitter says it’s owned. Even though it’s by me. @JimMitchem was mine, but I released it so I could ‘switch’ smashadv over to that handle. Only, when I released it – I basically froze it in some time capsule at Twitter because it’s non-retrievable since January.

Unfollowing People.
The Candidate

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.