How Much Twitter Input Can YOU Handle?

2010 is a year of experimentation for me. As my regular blog visitors know, I have made some dramatic changes in my life this year. 2010 is my year to focus on my business, Design Resumes.

Let’s take Twitter for example.When I joined Twitter, initially, I was amazed that people were following me, people I didn’t follow. I felt wanted and somewhat honored. When people talked back to me, I was amazed. I grew the numbers I was following by researching interesting people and to some extent following back the people who followed me.

During the past summer, I got busy and didn’t tweet much. When I came back, I felt disconnected and thought it was because I wasn’t there and people didn’t know me any more. To some extent, that might have been true, but there was another cause. I had gotten to the point of following 1500 people. Most of the people were clueless that I was even following them and I hadn’t really communicated with most of them.

On the advice of Jim Connolly, I decided to decrease the numbers I was following so that I could actually see the conversation happening. I knew that would have an effect on my follower numbers but it didn’t really matter because I wasn’t conversing with most of them anyway.

When I am creating resumes for the sales profession, one of the keywords that often comes up is relationship building. For example, this bullet point from a Territory Manager:

  • Generated over $3 million in annual sales through interaction with builders, building strong long-term relationships, which created repeat and referral sales.

You know how that client did that? He met with the builders. He built their trust. He shared their pain, rejoiced in their successes, and they in turn continued to buy his product. Relationship Building. It happens one connection at a time not in masses.

By trying to follow so many people, I couldn’t connect any more.

There was too much input. Too many voices. It was like one of those movies where a person is surrounded by voices talking, yelling, and screaming and after awhile, it just becomes one loud roar… no thread of conversation is left, just a constant roar, a constant din. Even using Tweetdeck, which lets me see columns of people I may not be following, I still find that keeping the number lower works best for me.

Do you know what is happening? I am talking to people again. I hear their voices (ok, their tweets). I find myself getting to know the people I follow better. I can rejoice in their successes, like HRMargo celebrating her new position. I can share snow shoveling strategies with InterviewAngel and TheJobQuest.

I would guess that everyone has different levels in input they can handle. For me, 1500+ was too many, I needed to reduce my numbers. Right now, I am following 240+ people which is probably still a few too many but I can hear the conversation.

How do I decide who to delete?

  1. First, I look for people who have not been using the tool. If their last tweet was a month ago, they won’t miss me.
  2. When I follow people to start out with, I look for conversation, not broadcasting because then I know that they will be valuable to me.
  3. Common ground is a good thing but I have a breadth of interests so many people fall into areas of my interest.
  4. People who do converse with me almost always stay on the list. I see Twitter as a communication tool, so talk to me and I will talk back.

If you were to use Twitter for job search with my old strategy, you would fail.

You would get lost in the shuffle and you would not be able to network. You couldn’t build relationships. Relationships are built through little interactions, building familiarity, confidence, and trust. However, if you would try my experiment and keep your following down, you will find yourself getting to know a community and communities network.

What do you think? How much input can YOU handle?

Talk to me, I talk back.


  1. Christine Livingston on February 7, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Julie,

    Well, interestingly, it was a Twitter exchange that led me to be here commenting…!!

    Your article really made me stop and think about how many people I’m following on Twitter and, indeed, how many of them I have real conversations with.

    I recently found a site that lets you see who are your “friends” (you follow each other); who do you follow who doesn’t follow you; and who’s following you that you don’t follow. I was amazed at the number of people who’d made the approach to follow me, whom I’d then followed back (flattery?!), and who’d then clearly immediately unfollowed me. It was making their numbers look good, but was doing nothing for my Twitter stream. Safe to say, I unfollowed most of them and learned an important lesson.

    There are people I follow who don’t follow me, whom I’m happy to follow because their content is good. But I’ve recently stopped following a couple who send out conversation bait messages, but then don’t follow up. Eg, “It’s snowing in London today. How is it where you are?” My rule is three strikes and you’re out!! That’s further thinned my stream and I notice how I don’t miss their egocentric garbage!!

    Anyway, your post is helping me take all of that to another level, and I thank you for it!

  2. Melissa on February 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Twitter has been an interesting balance for me. I have been grateful for HootSuite and the Twitter list feature to help me filter the conversations.

    I also try to have reasonable expectations. There are some people I follow and who follow me back, and I can hope they are deriving the kind of benefit from my tweets that I get from them. The chances of meaningful conversations with some of these individuals may not be great, but that’s OK.

    Then there are the interactions that I have with you and some others I have met on Twitter that go further than retweeting and other surface exchanges. It’s pretty amazing when these connections develop. Thanks for being part of that, Julie 🙂
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Setting Limits on Social Media Use =-.

  3. GL Hoffman on February 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Julie…I need to do this too. For now, it is simply on autopilot, which is bad, but the real world for me. Unfortunatly, I miss what so many good people have to say.
    I need to clean up this twitter….

  4. Johnny Frisk on February 25, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I agree that you have to make a choice about who you are going to follow on Twitter. You want to hear the conversation, but you also want to be a part of it. Some people follow simply to get a follow back. This does no one any good if there is no two-way communication being built over time. People are more likely to listen to you if they have some sort of personal connection to you, even if it occurs randomly through a social media platform. Twitter is a great tool, if you know what you are trying to do with it. Brent at InterviewAngel is a cool cat. I’m glad he’s one of the people I follow. If ever I lose track of the flow of conversation, it’s time to prune the vines.

  5. Michelle on February 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I’m following just under 500 but a lot of them aren’t very active. Usually my stream is manageable enough that I can read 90% of it unless I get really busy.

    There’s one person I follow that had over 70K follows/followers last I looked. There’s no way he can read more than 1% of that firehose and I’d be surprised if he can even keep up with @replies, though he does answer me so maybe he does.

    I like to keep it cozy and actually get to know people in my stream rather than having them all rush by.


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Julie Walraven

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