If left unchecked, your Twitter space can get overwhelming and the result is that you become a lame Tweep. I have a few things I do regularly to keep things tidy and happy.
Prolegomena: Twitter is a mostly open public forum if you are not interested in connecting with people you don’t already know then you should stick to Facebook because you are missing the point of Twitter and breaking the internet. I wrote a post about the Facebook and Twitter¬†relationship.
Following someone does not mean you are listening. Following is an¬†acknowledgment¬†that you see that they are a real person with something¬†legitimate¬†to bring to the table and not a spammer/gamer. If you follow me and are a real person with an avatar, bio and a link, then I will follow you back. This doesn’t mean that I am listening to you however.
This is how I organize who I am actually listening to. Twitter lists are subsets of twitter users that allow you to pay attention to a smaller group of people. This works best when you use a Twitter client (I use Tweetdeck) that has columns or tabs to display different feeds. A couple of my favorite lists are one of my colleagues in my field and another list, which is private, called; ‘don’t miss’. That one is a list of close friends and other people that I don’t want to miss.¬†Making¬†it private¬†makes it so that they don’t know they are on the list but more importantly other people can’t see that they are not on it.
I do keep a column of everyone I follow and look at it a lot, but the shelf life of a tweet in a stream of thousands is pretty short.
The most rocking tool ever for pruning your Twitter account; Manage Flitter. Manage Flitter looks at my account and allows me to drop people in bulk. About once a month I go there and drop everyone who isn’t following me back. I’m on Twitter for the conversations and relationships not to simply consume your content. That’s the main function that I use it for, but it will also let you sort out people who Tweet too much, don’t tweet enough, don’t have a profile pic, have certain keywords in their bio or tweet certain things.
You may have seen me follow you more than once because you didn’t follow back and your name came up somewhere and I followed you again, I’m pretty sure this has happened more than a few times for some people I follow. This is because when I do clean up my Twitter once a month I unfollow everyone who isn’t following back.
That’s how I live in the twitternets. It’s not perfect but it works for me.