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Twitter Focus

For the last month I’ve been strictly limiting myself to following only 150 people on Twitter.  You can read more on my thinking about this and other peoples reactions here. What I want to share with you in this post is what the first month has been like.

Hocus Pocus

I want to start by describing a bit more about what I was experiencing before the experiment started.

I was struggling to find balance, clarity and appropriateness for purpose in the connections I had made. For some time I’d been managing down my following of others, yet there was still this persistent “noise”  in my Twitter timeline.  It’s hard to say how much of it was useful or useless to me but the experience quite often felt a bit like this…

Regardless of your musical tastes, there’s something curious & magnificent in that performance isn’t there?  Quite fun and distracting… yet, it’s hard (not impossible) to discern anything intelligible or valuable in those 6 minutes. This describes some of my historical experience of Twitter. In fact at times I’d say it’s been a bit less like a rock show and more like a magic show…

Lot’s of wonderful fun, humour & performance… Lots of great participation and cheering from the crowd… Then with a bit of Hocus-Pocus you suddenly realise you are following 100’s of people for no particularly sensible or focused purpose!  It’s a bit like Derren Brown has had you up on stage hypnotised trying to spin 100’s of plates, miserably failing of course, as the audience watch bemused.  Then having awoken you watch the video replay and can’t quite believe how you’ve been beguiled and how lacking in purpose and focus you’ve let yourself become.

Focus Focus

So quite a few people have been asking me how this “experiment” is going…  What was it like to cut down to 150 people overnight? How have people reacted?

So, once the decision was made, it was really easy to go through my followers and reduce to those whose connection matter to me.  It’s surprising just how many (I assume very good) folk I’d followed and then had had very little or no interaction with… mea culpa.

I then took a bit of time to do some housekeeping and reorganising of my lists on Twitter. The structure I had for a few hundred needed to be altered to work optimally with 150.

The combination of both those activities (reducing to 150 and optimising my lists) has really helped create focus when I’m on Twitter…

    • I’m spend good quality time on Twitter and very little time filtering…
    • I feel more in touch with my most important relationships & connections…
    • Some of the relationships that I thought were valued I now see are not at all…
    • I’m getting to know some people better because I am now able to focus on that outcome…
    • I’m still following & unfollowing people but have to think more carefully about these choices now…

More than that, I’ve found deeper focus emerging away from Twitter…

    • I’m spending more time talking to key relationships on phone/email/SMS and those engagements have a deeper joint purpose be that social or commercial…
    • I’m giving more time to LinkedIn but in short focused bursts…

So one month in and I’ve not become a pariah, the sky didn’t fall down and I’ve not had any “difficult conversations”!!! The whole experiment has been well worth it and at this stage there’s no turning back.

What from this would you consider trying yourself?

Post Script

For those who are curious about what happened to my following when I made the transition to 150, here’s my graph from :-

Twitter 150 Experiment 28-2-2013

I suspect the “plateau” effect that has emerged in followers is a direct relationship to my deliberate plateau of following 150 people. It may of course change!

I’m fairly agnostic to my number of followers but thought this might be of interest to some who are considering such an experiment.




4 thoughts on “Twitter Focus

  1. Hi David

    I’ve been thinking about this since I read it and have seen others do similar although I’m not sure it’s for the same reasons all the time. I know you’re not in this camp but I have seen people build their following only to cull because it looks good to have lots of followers and they follow only a few back. Makes them look popular or something 😉

    Anyway back to the post and thanks for sharing. I know I don’t manage my social channels as effectively as I do but I do use lists to some effect and filter using hashtags a lot. I use LinkedIn and Google Plus now more and more but what I love about Twitter and following a lot of people from different walks of life, jobs, sectors, experiences, ages and countries is that whenever I go in to Twitter at any time of any given day I find a rich and varied source of information and by running down my timeline I will find articles of interest and blog gems that I wouldn’t find if I just followed a much smaller number. That’s what I get from Twitter, the unknown, variety and a wide amount of information on a variety of topics at any time.

    I may find this changes in the future and if I need to filter more carefully and effectively but for now that is why I like following those I follow (over 1000) and I do only follow if their bio interests me, but it’s knowing every time I go in to Twitter I might find something exciting or new that will give me something of value and change my thinking.

    Just wanted to share, thanks for getting those grey cells moving 🙂


    Posted by Mike Collins (@MikeCollins007) | March 6, 2013, 3:39 PM
    • Hi Mike – really appreciate you commenting and sharing your own practice. Your point about the richness & diversity of sharing is one of the main reasons I use Twitter. Curiously, I still find more than enough richness at 150 – there’s plenty I’m missing but there always will be…

      Perhaps more strikingly, it feels like I’m coming across more novel articles & topics recently. I’ve put this down to a combination of careful following (diverse explorers, friends & experts), focussed Twitter time and my personal learning network sharing and flagging what may be of interest to me.

      So not to contradict or criticise at all, just perhaps to rhetorically ask “how many followers are enough?”…


      Posted by David Goddin | March 6, 2013, 6:57 PM
  2. Perhaps I am in a position where I’m kidding myself that following 1000 people will guarantee that diversity without me doing much digging and a more careful and selective approach would actually do this and get me to the content I really want and would benefit from more. I’m actually finding more quality content and spending more time over on G+ and just dipping in to Twitter at the moment – the use of circles (similar to lists) is something I like and I’ve also joined a few communities (and started one). I may try something different with Twitter now…..

    The number of followers have never been the focus although I think followers do represent the value that you provide either via conversation and sharing and/or publishing good quality content. If it’s personal /professional value you seek then that must come from the people you follow by it’s very nature so again the more followers you have the more value you are adding for others.

    Again thanks for prompting thought in this area!


    Posted by Mike Collins (@MikeCollins007) | March 10, 2013, 11:56 AM


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