Why I Unfollowed You on Twitter


Sorry. I unfollowed you, and 1,500 others, on Twitter today. Please don’t take it personally.

Now that we’ve lived with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others for seven plus years I’m starting to optimize how I use each. It was that or stop using them, and I’m no quitter.

I’m optimizing Facebook is to keep up with people I actually know, at least a little bit, in real life. Not people I’ve met just once or twice. If you appear on my timeline and I have to remember how I know you, I unfriend. I’ve taken my daughter Zoe’s idea for pruning Facebook friends: I look at today’s birthdays. If I wouldn’t wish you a happy birthday, you get unfriended. No offense. It’s not that I don’t like you. Just that I don’t know you very well and your updates is not what I want Facebook for.

LinkedIn is for people I know in a professional context. If I worked with you at AOL in 1999 and now I can’t remember who the hell you are, I’ve gotta un-link. Sorry. People use LinkedIn to check references and if I’m not qualified to give you one, we shouldn’t be linked.

I want Twitter to be for news and information from trusted sources. My dream is that I open Twitter and can quickly consume 15-20 interesting stories from around the Web, curated for me by people who know how to sort the wheat from the chaff. I want high signal, low noise. Over the years I’ve accumulated too much “other” on Twitter, and it had come to the point where I never opened Twitter anymore — the noise far outweighed the signal. So today I went from following 1,500+ to less than 200. Suddenly my Twitter homepage has gone from comments on television shows I’ll never watch to up-to-the-minute news from @AllThingsD, @HNTweets, @EricTopol, @pitchforkmedia, and @nickwingfield, to name a few as I glance right this moment.

I unfollowed friends who either don’t use Twitter or don’t post news, links, and info. If we’re friends, I’ll keep up with you on Facebook.

I unfollowed bands. If I’m a fan, my music app should tell me when you have new music. If you’re my favorite, I’m on your email list. If you’re in my library, Songkick and/or BandsInTown will send me an email telling me when you have a new tour date near me. If your album is incredible or you make news, I’ll hear about it from a trusted source I’m following. I kept a few who either post news infrequently or are consistently entertaining (I’m talkin’bout you, @ChuckProphet).

I unfollowed brands. Kinda-liking your product isn’t enough. If I love the thing you do uniquely well (Newton running shoes) I’ll follow just to keep up.

But I felt compelled to keep following a number of labels I love (Matador, Ghostly). Labels post news. Sure, it’s self-promotion but I care about a few labels and am curious to hear what they have going on.

I’m following lots of news sources, from @BreakingNews to @TechDirt to @ThrasherMag.

I’m following writers, bloggers, and pundits, o the the hope they know well how to deliver the goods. I can see already a few who are using Twitter more like a wannabe rapper; they will soon be unfollowed.

I kept humor. Jenny Johnson. Rob Delaney. Drunk Hulk. Anti Joke Apple. I like a little funny pages in my news.

Remember: the Internet is not “full if noise and amateurs” as many would like to have you believe. TV ads and billboards are noise. On the net, you are in control. You can delete the low signal and amplify the noise. Control your own inputs.

To save itself from teh suck (sic) Twitter should add an “Unfollow All” feature, then could recommend to me the people on Twitter who have the highest ratio of clicks to followers. Lead me to signal, help me eradicate noise.

Following the golden rule of content distribution, I’m going to try to use Twitter as I’m asking those I follow to use it — for news/information I think others will find useful. For personal tidbits, I’ll use Facebook and/or Instagram.



Trackbacks & Pings

  1. Learn How To Curate Your Various Social Web Networks To Deliver Value on 13 Aug 2013 at 12:44 pm

    […] MobileTweetEmailTweetEmailThe entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist Mark Suster tweeted this post Why I Unfollowed You On Twitter by  Ian Rogers of Topspin.It’s exactly what I’ve been saying for years: curate your […]

  2. The Principled Purge | Ramsayings on 14 Aug 2013 at 4:14 am

    […] you haven’t already seen it, Ian Rogers’ blog post on prun­ing Twit­ter is quite good. He fol­lowed me back when I wrote about dig­i­tal music; I don’t write about […]


  1. Kris Ordaz wrote:

    I’m so relieved to “hear” you say this! I couldn’t agree more. There’s enough noise as it is and identifying where it’s valuable and not is important. Don’t apologize for unfollowing, if anything it’s motivating others to take control and do the same. Cheers! -k

  2. Kent wrote:

    This inspired me to do the same. Twitter and Linkedin are unusable for me these days.

  3. Evan wrote:

    Love this post. Sharing…

    From: Bob Lefsetz
    Subject: Re: Twitter
    Date: July 8, 2013 1:11:18 PM EDT
    To: Evan Lowenstein

    Excellent point.
    On Jul 8, 2013, at 9:40 AM, Evan Lowenstein wrote:

    At a conference about 2 years ago I offered unsolicited advice to Twitter: Only let people follow up to 99 people (I believe Path now does something similar). This would fix the noise problem because it would allow people to actually “hear” the people they follow. It would also prevent people from following people just to get followers (which only creates more noise).
    I only follow about 10 people–and I switch them out often. Why? Because I actually want to hear what people say. How many friends can you really be in touch with on an ongoing basis?

    Force people to make a choice.

  4. jonathan wrote:

    I did almost exactly this a few months ago, and it gave me a renewed interest in social media – great post.

  5. @kim wrote:

    I think I will follow your advice regarding the Facebook birthday test. Good plan! My solution for Twitter is really low-fi. I just set up two accounts so I can flip between noise and pure signal within about a 1/2 millisecond. Whatever works, yeah?

  6. Piper wrote:

    good plan

  7. Mark Hodges wrote:

    Hi Ian,

    I really enjoyed this post. I’m currently working on an article on how Twitter isn’t a scalable platform, and it looks like you agree with me seeing as you’ve unfollowed 1,500 people. I recently started a service that does just as you suggest, provide high signal & low noise on Twitter – it’s like it is curated for you. Hoping you could check it out – it’s called Brook (brookdaily.com) and I would love your feedback.


  8. Tamás wrote:

    Great advice. I’m working in the opposite direction, building up my connections, and this is a refreshing take on there to draw the lines.

    Question: do you use newsreaders at all? I prefer them to mailing lists and often they feed the same content.


  9. Andy Weissman wrote:

    “On the net, you are in control. You can delete the low signal and amplify the noise. Control your own inputs.”

    Love this phrase Ian. We are in control. As humans, artists, makers.

    Though, I have to admit, I am somewhat confused by this because it sounds like you are removing alot of the human element from Twitter. And you, to me at least, are just so damn human . . .

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