Wednesday 29 September 2010

Getting round Twitter's following limit

Twitter  is a great - if rather addictive - way to comp and to get to know and chat to other compers. We follow other compers, then we follow their friends and friends of their friends. We follow sites that run competitions on Twitter and we  follow  sites that tweet about competitions  they are running on websites,  blogs or Facebook. Many of us add to the list of people we follow  almost every day until we reach 2,000 followers. And then we try to follow  our 2001st  person and Twitter  says "NO!!!!"

So what we usually do  is go away in a panic and frantically cull people from  our list, worrying about hurting or offending people or about missing  out on news, chat and competitions. But it doesn't have to be like that.

You CAN follow more than 2,000 people.  The 2,000 rule only applies if you are following more people than are following you. Once you have more than 2,000 followers, you can  keep on following new people until you  reach the same number as are following you. Once you have more than 2,000 followers you can follow 10% more than are following you. If you have 2010 followers you can follow 2211 people. If you have 20,000 followers you  can follow 22,000 people (and good luck with it!). Getting your friends to suggest you to THEIR friends, for instance on Fridays with the #ff or #FollowFriday hashtags can help you to get your follower  count up, but don't be tempted by the spam messages you get that offer to increase your follower count. You could find your account being compromised.

So maybe you can't get your follower count up to 2,000- or don't want to - in  that case you DO need to cull followers. But make sure you do it sensibly.

Cull the people you don't need any more. You are following around  2,000 people. It would take days to   check each and every account to see whether they are still tweeting, and yet if they have stopped for some reason, maybe having lost interest in Twitter,  started a new improved Twitter account or even gone out of business, you are  wasting good "following space" on them. Luckily there are some excellent applications which will look through your list and tell  you who to unfollow!

Both the apps I recommended when I first wrote this page have now closed, but you  can see some suggestions for alternatives that help you to find obsolete or dodgy accounts to unfollow in my Goodbye Twit Cleaner post.

If somebody's on one of your lists you don't need to follow them to  see their tweets.  Did you know that? I only found it out by accident but now I use it all the time. In fact if you are a comper you will probably find that unless you are somebody I talk to by Direct Message a lot, I am not following you - yet  I still see  your tweets and chat and interact with you all the time.  Sorting my comper friends into lists  (there are so many of you that I have TWO lists just for compers) then unfollowing them has freed up several hundred  spaces for me to follow other people. There doesn't seem to be any limit to the number of lists you can have, and the new Twitter interface makes it easy for you to look at your lists. It's always been easy on Tweet Deck and some of the other applications you can use for viewing Twitter.
Don't forget, though, that most promoters  running competitions  on Twitter insist that winners must be followers. Not only do they want to keep their follower  count up  but they want to be  able to DM the winner to  ask for their details.

A final note - don't unfollow too many people in one  day, or  Twitter may view it as "dodgy behaviour" and suspend your account. You will  all have had strange looking new followers  who unfollow you as soon  as they realise you are not going to follow them back, these are spammers and Twitter is doing what it can to protect us from them. Don't let it think you are one! Plan your unfollowing campaign over the space of  a few days to keep your account safe.


  1. Thank you very helpful. I have been inundated with spammers just recently and your comments on the Twerp scan has help clear them.

  2. Thank you so much, this has been very helpful. But roughly around how many I am following do you think it safe to delete in one day?

  3. I've deleted a couple of hundred in a day and had no problems. But I think if you were to delete so many at once then immediately follow as many new ones, Twitter would think you were a spammer as "churning" by mass unfollowing followed by mass following is a well-known technique used by spammers.

  4. I have just started Tweeting and saw a recommendation for Tweetdeck.Would you recommend it? I have just downloaded it but can't find any basic instructions on how to use it. Do you have any idea where they are?
    Many thanks for your articles - they are brilliant.

  5. Yes, I recommend Tweet Deck, I've tried lots of waysof using Twitter but Tweet deck is the one I always come back to. When you have downloaded it, click on the question mark on the top right to be taken to the instructions.

  6. LOL hilarious how many people are self obsessed and how many companies never interact with people on twitter, very informative and helpful.

  7. I have just used Twit Cleaner. Thanks for the tip.

  8. The Twit Cleaner is great, does TwerpScan still exist?

  9. It was working a few weeks ago when I last used it, hopefully it's just got a temporary fault, Mike, as it doesn't seem to be working today


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