It’s not personal and that’s the problem

When I first got into Social Media it was a free for all.

Q: How many people could I add to every profile?

A: ALL the people!! How else can you get to the top of twitter grader?

So, I very meticulously added everyone until my fingers hurt, my arms felt like I was getting carpel tunnel, or I hit limitations. Seriously, I figured out that all you had to do to get past 2000 friends on twitter was keep the friends and followers number within 10% of eachother. So, I found some tool that would unfollow people who didn’t follow me back. It was so easy!

I accepted every friend request on Facebook and started adding every suggested friend. I even had a real friend who I’ve actually known for years ask me:

Why are you friends with all these people from my highschool class?

This was the beginning of the end for me. Really it was, because I started to ask myself

Why the hell AM I adding all these people? What’s the purpose?

Well, I knew the answer. It was because so many article and “gurus” said that this was the way to do it. Increase your audience and your audience will increase from there. Really what they were saying was:

Add all the people, pray they read what you’re putting out there and share it. 

This was great for a while because I didn’t give a shit about broadcasting. What I realized though, was that there were people who were happily going about their lives and really getting a feel for a very specific group of people and what they were up to. Some people call these “Friends”, using the original definition.

It made me realize that what I was doing sucked and that I wanted to keep things more personal. I couldn’t keep up with the people I cared about because they were drowned out by the people I didn’t give one shit about. Also, I really didn’t want everyone on the planet knowing everything about what I was doing. I only wanted to push that to the people I like!

The answer? Drop them all. Yes, all of them. 

With Twitter, I unfollowed everyone and only followed back the names of people I could remember off the top of my head. This was fun, because it helped me to realize who I enjoyed talking to and who I wanted to hear from more. Let the stalking begin!

With Facebook, I went through my friends list and unfollowed everyone who I couldn’t recognize either their picture or their name. This was a bit more subjective, because there were some people I recognized and didn’t want to see anything from anymore. It wasn’t personal, that’s the problem.

Foursquare made it easy, with their little “x” button that shows up when you hover. I unfollowed everyone in less than 10 minutes. That was great. Here, I really didn’t want to broadcast to all those people where I was. So I stopped.

Now, I have made a couple mistakes in un-friending/un-following. That’ll happen. So, if you feel slighted and want me to reconnect just hit me up on one of those mediums. If I ignore your request, you’ll know what’s up. If I accept you, you’ll know more than what’s up because I post a lot.

If it’s personal, it hurts more and it feels better all at the same time. I want to get to know people better and I am working through my little subset of the world.

Friends…real friends… what a concept.

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  • Michael

    well…its a difficult topic…

    i also think that adding everybody is a mistake…you’re absolutely right in mentioning this…

    well what do i do:

    on linkedin which is use 100% for professional purposes I add ONLY people i know, or plan to know by working together or doing business…

    on twitter I add people interested in my topics and people whose topics interest me…

    on facebook i have a seperation…

    I have a provate profile with lesser than 200 friends and I need to say i know far over 90% personally…

    in addition I have a site with about 3000 followers which i only use as a company site and which is connected to my twitter account…

    last but not least….

    having 1000 true followers on twitter might be better than having 100.000 faked ones…not only because of spam…

  • Henry

    That’s the way it should be, I don’t accept request from those I don’t know or not acquainted with. Profiles and publishings are persona and I’ll only share it with whom I feel comfortable.

  • Phuc-An Nguyen

    It’s always better to have followers that read what you write rather than those who would just add and forget. You’ll get farther with those few that are with you than the 1000’s that just merely say so on paper

  • Guti@empireavenue

    Indeed it is true! I am trying to actually meet or do business with my on-line contacts! Still, I have a hard time trying to convince them.Kind regards!

  • Tim Berkesch

    You also could have just started deleting contacts that you did not want to associate with over a period of time.

  • Catherine White

    My personal facebook profile is approx 160 people, which is the way I like it. People I know personally, or I’ve been associated with are the only people I’m interested in communicating with. Other networks are different, but my personal facebook profile is just that …personal

  • C Dee

    Very sensible. It’s not a numbers game, Technologies change, but principles do not, and the principle of Quality over Quantity is one that many people have to rediscover time after time in arena after arena.

  • amidiabetic (Stuart)

    I started posting on twitter as an extension of my website and had a target audience. I then found a program where i could drop the ones who were just following me and then dropping me a day later

    I also added followers of a follower but in the target audience, which boosted my followers, some which became acquaintances, while I dropped others. I HAVE also followed and added randoms.

    I will always keep the ones who retweet me on a regular basis and I often ‘spring clean’ out the cobwebs. If it’s numbers that you are after then just pay someone to buy them for you but for true followers, just keep the ones who want to know you/your website and keep in touch

  • somnulescu

    I don’t really know if this is the way to go on both Social networks but on Twitter I did the same thing.

  • Candace Mountain

    Quality followers are much better than simply numbers. It is great to have a lot of real engagement in your contacts.

  • Neale Reimers

    It is always good to clean up your contacts by eliminating the people who you don’t want to associate with. However, I wouldn’t suggest dropping everyone out of hand. By doing that you are most certainly limiting your market.
    I agree that you should keep it personal but part of that is reaching out to new people.

  • RodRoc

    Great article like always Matt

  • Darren Ferneyhough

    great article, thanks for sharing – I know exactly what you mean and have gone through similar thought processes myself. I imagine we are not alone and that this ‘cycle’ is typical of a great many people’s experience when they get into social media at first

    thanks again!

  • jbone

    This is ultimately a better solution than the one many of us in business adopt, we wind up turning over our personal accounts to the Social Media expert in the marketing department to because we’ve collected so many “friends.” Then we either give up on social media or we have our own “private” accounts. In the end, social media is about being social and you can’t be social with 2000 people. I find it hard to remember the names of my children.

  • RodRoc

    Thanks for the info

  • Vipul Jasani

    Interesting facts and insight on the subject matter. World is changing every day and new tools and techniques dominate the play.

  • morphing

    I believe life in the social media world goes through pretty much the cycles you are describing Matt. In the beginning, you reach out everywhere, then you settle into what suits you. For me, Social Media is still moving quickly enough that I still do a lot of morphing. :) Nevertheless: too much of a goo thing can kill you. Good points, Matt!

  • Philip Ronestone

    I’m not into numbers, my facebook is less than 50 people. they are all family and friends. who cares about people you don’t know. I don’t have the time for it.

  • Sonia Myers

    hi Matt, I am hearing you – but am in the process of building my followers – I am sure I will catch up to where you are at soon… Nicely written BTW :) – I like your style :)

  • DES Daughter

    “Funny” because before reading this post, I noticed that we were not friend on FB and I though how comes ? I interacted with Matt many times on FB … and I had already (re)sent a new request one hour ago lol so it’s your call :) I think the word “friend” on FB is not adequate, personally I would opt for “contacts”. Then, I think it depends your “goals” and why you use SoMe, or what for. Since I use SoMe to spread DES awareness and not for personal things, I try to expand my Networks. Your post is a very good topic for which we could discuss for a while lol Thanks Matt

  • Harold Gardner

    I don’t expect SM to replace my real interactions in the world; so I am a bit less anxious about my SM lists. Most of my friends meet me at the tennis court, at a bar, for dinner, or at some other social event to maintain our relationship.

  • Paul Jasan

    nice blog.

  • Sunish Sebastian

    couple of years ago I had to do the same with my Facebook friends. You already know that your fringes hurt when you add all the people to your friends list. Now imagine me spending a whole day and deleting all my 2k+ friends.

    The reason was that, I didn’t want to involve with the silly and the BS stuff going around with my so called friends. I work from home and I need to use Facebook for my work and the friends are a distraction. So I removed all of them and keep few and add few who are in level with my business or work.

    With Twitter I Tweet a lot and I accept everyone. But I keep the list and pay the attention only to the profiles in my list.

  • Elisa Buter

    I understand what you are saying and sometimes feel the same way as well, but each person you “don’t know” and erase, could eventually be someone you could get to know.

    Yes, being swamped by all this social media is hard but I think many are in the same boat. We try our best to share and be part of this amazing phenomena.

    I have seen quite a few people unfollow/unfriend and that is their decision on how they juggle this mass of information from people their don’t know or care to listen to.

    I commend your honesty in this post.


  • Dan Stepel

    I have been saying for years…“Approach every new connection as your next best friend and not your next sale”

  • Empowermentalist

    Thanks for articulating so well the very same experience I am going through right now in my own learning curve with social media, MATT. I guess everyone has to get to their own personal limits before they can start making all the necessary qualitative adjustments. I agree with you and look forward to following your trailblazing footsteps on the right way out of all this digital social morass.

  • Snezana Petrovic Istatkov

    Thanks for great article, but I try to live my Life in real world.

  • Kamal Bennani

    Great article Matt. On social networks, numbers and value are not always friends.

  • philrosenberg

    Facebook allows you to have the best of both worlds. I have a list of Friends/Family so I get a specific feed from the people whose posts I care about.

    In that way, I have the power of numbers for broadcasting content and networking, but I also have a feed that I want to see … replacing the noise in the Newsfeed.

  • Mike Kincaid

    I’m still back in the “add every profile I can phase” but like you am starting to get tired of it. It’s funny to see that you had come to the realization that doing this is a waste of time because I am just beginning to realize this and do the same. I think that making real connections with people that we “actually” follow is the right way to go and if some guru says otherwise……..then let him wear HIS fingers out.

  • Maria Mack

    congrats on choosing a route that fits for you. makes sense

  • waynemansfield

    It is the power of the WEAK link… I think you are wrong!

  • Lake Arrowhead

    We’ve been in the game since 1994, and know what you mean. The first thing I did on Facebook was to get into trouble for too many friend requests!

  • Miriam Slozberg

    I am glad you found something that fits you!! That is all that matters.

  • Akansha Gautam

    Good read, Thanks

  • Dean M Waters

    This is a very interesting subject and I’m sure many of us have spent some time on this matter. However this is what I use lists for, I have my close friends in a list and can instantly filter out all others. I have a lists for organizations and groups I belong to as well.

  • Nick Burridge

    Harsh as it may be these are the basic rules with I work by
    A count of “friend” or Likes are no real basis to gauge reality, especially in a communion where belly rubbing and back patting seem to be the gauge of what! …an ability to collect points!

  • donfre

    I understand your journey and if this is the way it works for you, good for you. Cant say I agree with going into social isolation. I have connected with some of the funniest, thoughtprovoking, interesting people thanks to being “forced” to embrace FB, Twitter, G+ etc.

  • Kirpal Khalsa

    I rekindled many old relationships from some of these services. At the same time, I have many “friends” I haven’t a clue about and will probably never share a coffee with them.

  • Angus Whitton

    I agree with your stance. I was a member of a site whereby the owners ran it into the ground through lack of income combined with overspend – and this was against a background of them boasting of 50,000 + personal contacts and 600,000 paying members etc

    I think that the answer is that more honesty is needed in profiles and that those running ponzi schemes are not only banned; they are prosecuted. This would result in a smaller pool and confine/refine ones choice of contacts to something more positive.

    I’m about to do some pruning myself and am looking for an independent tools which will allow me to discriminate and dump at one click of a mouse. I feel that SoMe is about to go down this route – as no matter what advances we make in technology – we cannot expand time and we need a tool to pre-qualify our contacts for acceptance or rejection as early as is sensibly possible.

  • bewitched in salem

    I played the catch-all game in the start of my FB journey, not knowing about the 5000 person/page friend/like limit imposed on profiles. Liking all of the pages that I did (Coke, Dt. Coke, Burger King etc) as I simply un-liked 90% of the pages I liked.

    Having lived a fairly public lifestyle it did not take too long to fill back up (for about a year my requests in queue stood at 1800-2300. The new subscribe feature that FB rolled out has alleviated this a bit). Now I am beginning to utilize various socmed platforms to help grow our brick and mortar ventures and I definitely see that I have to once again address my style.

    On one hand I agree with C Dee’s statement of “quality over quantity”, but on the flip side I agree with Elisa Buter’s “”Don’t know” could get to know statement” I know I have an arduous journey ahead.

    Thank you for sharing your view with all of us Matt.

    Bill and friends of Bewitched.