4 Easy Ways To Manage Twitter Followers

Continuing with the theme of following others on Twitter, I previously wrote about how to follow good people and a strategy for unfollowing some as well. Since I’m into organization, especially with email, I thought I would share with you my strategy for sorting and following back those that choose to follow me.

Manage Twitter With Rules (click for full size image)

Manage Twitter With Rules (click for full size image)

When somebody follows you on Twitter you will typically get an email telling you so.  This is great…to a point.  I found that My inbox was getting cluttered with email alerts from Twitter (don’t get me wrong, I love my followers!) but it was challenging to wade through and find more time sensitive emails, especially since my primary account goes to my iPhone.  In the interest of streamlining the process and to make sure that I don’t miss anybody (I like to follow back real people, but not robots), this is how I sort it out.

  1. Create an email account for Twitter.  I originally used my primary address (matt at mattsingley dot com) for my Twitter account, but found that I didn’t like it all going to the same place.  I create a unique account that is used only at Twitter, so now the info won’t go to my iPhone, just my primary and secondary computers.
  2. Create a “rule” for sorting.  I use Microsoft Outlook, so I simply created a rule that the email will follow.  You can do this by right-clicking a message and choosing “Create Rule…” or Tools–>Rules and Alerts–>New Rule.  I made the rule that any email sent to my unique address that contains “is now following you” in the subject goes to a special folder I created called “Twitter Followers”.  This way it doesn’t sit in my inbox, and I can go check it out anytime without disrupting my normal work flow.
  3. Sign up for SocialToo.  I discussed this in my unfollowing post, but it should be repeated here.  Sign up at SocialToo and select the option to get a daily email.  Once a day I receive an email that shows who started following me (thank you!) and who unfollowed me (it stings a little!).
  4. Create a “rule” for SocialToo.  Using the method described in #2, I created a rule that not only puts my daily SocialToo report into my Twitter Followers folder, but it also flags it for follow up that day.  Now to follow back I just open up that one email, check out who is new, and when I’m finished I can mark the flag as completed.  No more retracing my steps!

That’s it!  A quick and simple way to organize your friends in Twitter.  Of course there are tools (even in SocialToo) that allow you to automatically follow everybody that follows you…but where is the community in that?  I actually click on every single person’s link, read their bio, look at their tweets and often click through to their website.  I still think Twitter is a conversation and not a lecture, so the more tha I can interact with people and get to know them, the better!  If you have any strategies that you use to organize your Twitter life I would love to hear about them in the comments or with an @ reply to me.


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  • Jason Brett
    February 20, 2009

    Good approach to handling new follows to an extent, and it does help to a great degree.

    That said, I believe in asynchronous following. I don’t generally expect anyone to follow me back unless we need to have a DM conversation, in which case, I’ll @ and ask for the follow.

    At this point about 80 percent of my new follows are robots or spammers going for 20 billion followers and I’m about to stop looking at new follows altogether (It’s becoming a time sink!)

    The best way to get me to follow others is (a) talk about things I’m interested in or (b) @ me with an intro, comment or flat out follow request.

    Twitter was designed to be asynchronous, and I find myself more and more resenting new follower notifications, since the vast majority are thinly veiled twitterspam.

    Now I’m off to read more of your articles. Thanks!

  • Marianna
    February 20, 2009

    Hi Matt,

    Love the system you’ve created. It is a great stress buster; you’ve been proactive at heading off a source of irritation by having Twitter notifications go to a separate mailbox.

    Awareness + Knowledge + Application = happy Twittering
    (also my formula for stress transformation.


  • Matt Singley
    February 20, 2009

    @Jason…I haven’t seen 80% spammers, but it sure feels like it sometimes. I’m with you on that! There are a lot of people going for ultra high follower counts, but do they actually produce any content? I agree, it’s ridiculous sometimes.

  • Chris Dattilo
    February 21, 2009

    Matt, Are you just creating Google addresses or are you using aliases?

    I find I’m getting way to many email addresses and just wondered how you were handling this part of your solution.

    Great post – your idea will be very helpful to me.

  • Matt Singley
    February 21, 2009

    @Chris…I’m producing multiple addresses within my domain (in this case xxxx@mattsingley.com), they are all in one easy to manage place for me. I can get too many email addresses too, but since they are all in the same domain it’s easy to do things like forward to each other, delete, produce a catch-all, etc.

  • Mark Traphagen
    February 21, 2009


    Thanks for the great suggestions. I use gmail & implemented without creating another email address to check (I’m with Chris above on that one). I just created a twitter label in gmail and then a rule to send twitter follow requests there, keeping my inbox cleaner.

  • Vince
    February 21, 2009

    Gmail rules on stuff like this, mainly because the filters are in the server side.

    Skipping the inbox with a filter keeps my Android phone from blowing up.

    I can check in on the twitter junk on my time.

  • Alyx
    February 21, 2009

    Great ideas. I think people forget to use the tools they have within their EMAIL programs to balance a lot of this stuff.

    I use Mozilla Thunderbird and added some steps at my blog to make the same rules happen in Thunderbird.

    Twitter: @smartalyx

  • Wm. Marc Salsberry
    February 23, 2009

    I’ve thought about this and instituted similar email rules but I’d go one step further (it should be noted that I haven’t done this yet, but reading your post is what is inspiring me to take this next step). I would set it up so that I send an ‘auto reply’ to anyone who follows me asking them to send me a short note about themselves even if it’s just to say hi (I’m not sure if SocialToo.com can do this but the theory works). Then, I would block anyone who does not answer. I do regularly go through the list of new followers I get and I follow those I find interesting, but I don’t instantly follow someone just because they follow me.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on my plan.
    All the best

  • Mayads
    February 24, 2009

    Thanks for the tip. I will try it.

  • roblogger
    February 25, 2009

    cool stuff man. thanks.

  • Ilka
    February 27, 2009

    Great information, Matt! Thank you for sharing. Especially for us Twitter newbies weeding through all the ins and outs can be very frustrating and time consuming. So every little tip is a tremendous help.


  • trshant
    March 4, 2009

    i have just about 130 followers, but i think that when someone follows you, it’s courtesy to follow back, but equally wrong to auto DM or worse still, spam them with spam tweets. If i have nothing to say, i’m better off being quiet.
    Also about the sound vs noise. among 140 people whom i follow, i take only a few seriously, So i built a twitter feed using yahoo pipes, http://pipes.yahoo.com/trshant/twitterfeed .
    its still needs some polishing though.
    i am a web developer, so this feed helps me to be on top of things. however, i use this only to read things when i am pressed for time. usually i use the twitter page itself, since i find it easier, though i am becoming a tweetdeck fan gradually.
    Also , when i follow people, i see to it that these are people who really tweet, which can be determined just by reading their updates. If the tweets are repeated, then i dont follow that person. this is the only rule i have.
    When i do follow a person, that person should follow back in about 2 weeks, or provide exceptional value so that i don’t unfollow.
    All the i have given in this post work well when one has a small number of followers/follows, but when i eventually get to that big number, i think a prudent thing would be to concentrate on the quality of tweeting and not worry about the people following and unfollowing you, since the average would be somewhat maintained, and only the quality of tweeting would increase it.

  • Sanjeev
    March 25, 2009

    Nice information, you can manage twitter followers thru Gmail as well. Nice post on Internet Techies on that.

  • Adam
    April 11, 2009

    Hmm, I tried socialtoo but it seemed to not report all my new follows/unfollows. I found RSSfriends.com and use it now. It basically sends you follows/unfollows to your RSS reader and does seem to capture everyone.

    Now, I just unsubscribe from email notifications for a clean inbox and daily RSS updates.

  • Matt Singley
    April 11, 2009

    @Adam….SocialToo has been very flakey with me for the last couple of weeks also, which is really disappointing because the service used to be incredible!

  • George
    April 20, 2009

    I recently stumbled on http://www.Tweepular.com and find it is far superior to any other follower management tool for Twitter today. Makes it easy to filter out the spammers, and the Bulk follow and Unfollow feature is a godsend. Thats my 2 cents anyway :)

  • desyndivah
    April 29, 2009

    once again, a very useful read from you. thanks so much for sharing your insights on keeping organized.

    would it be alright to ask why someone stopped following you? and how is it properly done?

  • faisal majeed
    May 2, 2009

    So Twitter is awesome for Taking traffic to you website . It is very
    simple to setup and its a fun positive way to keep in contact with
    people. To get more followers on twitter check out this amazing

  • Matt Carlisle
    June 12, 2009

    Really found this helpful. Thanks.

  • Arijit Das
    December 27, 2009

    Effective Ways To Manage Twitter Followers!! I really enjoyed this post…

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