11 People to Unfollow on Twitter today


Let the record show that I am about to write a Listicle*. The internet is rife with articles on “Who to Follow on Twitter” but I’ve seen scant evidence regarding the contrarian view. Since I generally prefer the contrarian view, I offer the following.

I did this exercise recently, and was sharing my process with Brendan Lewis, who shares in my love of all things snarky, especially when it involves Social Media. He encouraged me to write it up. So you can thank him if it seems helpful. (Note: If it’s not helpful, please direct all complaints to: Goldman Sachs, 200 West Street, New York City.)

Specifically, who should you unfollow? Unfollow these people, and enjoy a Twitter feed with substantially less narcissism, solipsism and self-promotion. Read on:

  1. Unfollow anyone who claims “guru” status of anything. Do I need to explain why? Same goes for “raconteur” and “diva” and some others. If you have to SAY that you’re a guru, odds are you are not. These words are pretentious when self-applied.
  2. Unfollow anyone who lists “running” in their profile. While I generally have nothing against athletes, people who call themselves “runners” bug the crap out of me. There are people who go for a run. There are people who run marathons. But people who identify as “Runners” tend to be self-important types who never played team sports or don’t realize that you CAN play team sports after high school. Crossfitters and triathletes, this means you, too.
  3. Unfollow anyone who unironically retweets Gary Vaynerchuk, Peter Shankman, or Brian Solis. If you MUST follow these guys yourself, do so only for comic value, because these guys actually believe that they are God’s Gift. In reality they exist largely in a feedback loop of their own creation. Same goes for Michael Brito, Jeremiah Owyang, David Armano, and Chris Pirillo.
  4. Unfollow people who use the phrase “content marketing” in their profile or in their tweets. They heard this buzzword recently and decided to catch the wave. This wave will have crested and crashed in six to 12 months. Something else will take its place. Simply “marketing” is OK.
  5. Unfollow anyone who is a self-proclaimed “thought leader” immediately. (For more information, see #1 above). As Bob Dylan said — at least apocryphally —  “Don’t follow leaders.”
  6. Unfollow most PR people. They’re easy to find: their agency name usually appears in their twitter profile (firm names like Edelman, Waggener Edstrom [a.k.a “WaggEd”], Shandwick, Burson, etc.) Most of these folks don’t do anything on twitter but parrot their clients’ messages anyway, and talk about their regimen for training for the upcoming Metro Half-Marathon and Wine Festival (see #2 above).
  7. Unfollow anyone who says on their twitter profile that they’re “gluten free,” or “paleo,” or ”vegan” … these folks are compelled to share their quotidian food choices globally. You don’t need to know, really. It isn’t that interesting.
  8. Unfollow anyone who uses more than two hashtags in their twitter profile. #youre #doing #it #wrong #jackwagon #stop #trying #to #draw #attention #to #yourself
  9. Unfollow anyone who lists their Myers-Briggs personality type in their profile. I can only assume that this is a carryover from online dating sites. What gives? If you’re an INFJ, shouldn’t you be reading a book with your cat anyway instead of managing your Twitter account? Get off the internet! It belongs to us ESTPs anyway!
  10. Unfollow people who claim to have written “bestselling books” that you have never heard of. Authors who have actually written bestselling books generally don’t need to claim authorship of same on their twitter profiles. Having written a book that’s #46 in Amazon’s category Business> Business & Investing> Management & Leadership> Management> Marketing> Digital & Interactive Marketing> Social Media> Does not qualify as a bestseller. For a list of Bestselling authors, see Publisher’s Weekly or The New York Times. J.K. Rowling is a bestselling author. So is John Grisham. So are Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg. Unfollow authors who aren’t in that category.
  11. Unfollow any remaining mommy bloggers. That thing was so 2008.

Once you’ve unfollowed these people (if there’s anyone left in your feed), you’ll find that it probably contains interesting things about the world you live in or the industry in which you work. It might even contain things of real intellectual value. When you unclutter your feed from the narcissists and self-promoters, you can follow things of genuine interest. Isn’t that what a tool like Twitter should be used for anyway?

(Disclaimer/Warning: Following the advice in this post may negatively impact your Klout score. But if you’ve read this far, it’s a safe bet you don’t care.)

And now, gentle reader, I eagerly await your vitriol.

*Listicle, n. – a portmanteau of “List” and “article” … get it?

18 thoughts on “11 People to Unfollow on Twitter today

  1. Fenton Barnes says:

    Great post, intelligent, insightful, incisive and useful. What more can I say?!

  2. Was kind of interested in your opinion until you unleashed the hate on runners. Why the disdain? Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but don’t really see the need to offer yours as a rule that would be helpful to everyone. I wouldn’t give general advice to everyone that they should unfollow people who like football, just because it bugs me personally.
    a runner

  3. Maggie says:

    And it doesn’t matter if you have to be gluten-free because of an allergy. If you feel the need to disclose this, there’s probably another problem anyway.

  4. I agree with you on all points except the Gary Vaynerchuk thing. I’ve met Gary, he’s pretty brilliant.

    • Starr says:

      But thinking on this, I ultimately had to connect with him to really understand who he was. Seems like a really nice guy. Even if I’m connecting with one of his staff, they seem like a really nice Gary.

  5. Nevea Lane says:

    I would also add anyone who has these traits: a mysterious looking female as an avatar, very little content in their tweets (like maybe 8 tweets), a mass of followers for no reason besides the fact they are on ‘#teamfollowback’ or has “Your momma’s house” as a location…

  6. What a great Listicle…and a fun new word, too! I’m thinking of a social media purge of connections across all platforms and I think it will be equally as helpful for who to “un-friend” on Facebook, whose connection to remove on LinkedIn, etc.

  7. What about people who send out an auto-response with some stupid self-promoted gift? How impersonal can you be?

  8. Casey Palmer says:

    I think it’s time for a Twitter cull. Twitter — like so many other tools — made the crossover from “cool” to “mainstream” some time ago, and now it mirrors much of the Internet: All shouting, all the time.

    I’m considering a vacation from Twitter, ‘cuz yanno — there’s a lot of other things I could be doing than Tweetin’!

  9. WOW, yes you will get some 😉

    Personally I think you are wrong on Gary Vaynerchuk and Brian Solis. I have had very genuine and thoughtful conversations with both. I am also grateful for Gary being one of my first guests on #BBSradio almost 5 years ago. It is why I am intentional about reaching around and bringing people with me on the journey.

    Do we dare follow anyone who call’s them-self an “Agent?” 😉

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