(image source: http://www.spring.org.uk/)
Earlier this week, I was a part of a conversation regarding Twitter and how it seemed to be getting saturated with promotion and advertising while quality conversations were diminishing. I had been thinking this for a few months, but had been so busy finishing all of the work for graduate school and dealing with the needs of our nonprofit, I had not give it much attention. But the conversation gave me pause to consider that over the last several months I had begun to scroll through what was in my Twitter conversation stream trying to glean out anything of value and skipping the rest. It had gotten to where I was just scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and finding it quite annoying. What had changed? Was Twitter simply not of value anymore? As I began to consider the situation, I began to consider why I had originally begun to use Twitter and what value I had found in it.
As I considered this, I started recalling conversations from Twitter that called me to action. Conversations with people like Kenworth Reeves, Jr. who's motto is "Use your powers for good", Jeff Goins who constantly encourages writers to keep writing, John Crist who's comedy keeps me smiling when days are less than fun, and of course Jen Hatmaker whose transparency and honesty is contagious. I clearly did not want to eliminate these and countless other conversations. I just wanted to shut down some of the noise that my Twitter stream had developed. So, I took a look, and it dawned on me. I was following over 1,100 people and businesses on Twitter. The mere bulk of it had become more than I could digest and the overall quality of what it was providing to me had significantly diminished.
What to do? Run in circles, scream and yell? No. I simply elected to prune the constant stream of conversation back to something manageable. I set a goal of trimming it down to something in the neighborhood of 300 as opposed to 1,100. No, I did not manage to do that much pruning in one setting. But once I had the goal in mind, I then could develop a criteria for the pruning process. If the bulk of a twitter account's was trying to convince me to sign up for a paid service of some sort or one of the dreadful twitter based daily newspapers, I would prune it. If I communicated with a specific twitter user and they would not respond to me, that account could be pruned as well. In a nutshell, I spent a few days evaluating the postings that were flowing through my Twitter stream every time I opened it. If there was not significant value being returned from it, then it was just adding noise to the conversations that I valued.
As of today, I have it whittled down to just over 475 accounts that I am following. And you know what I have found? The quality of the conversations in the Twitter stream has increased dramatically. Twitter is just the medium. We control what it displays to us when we open it. Actively managing the conversation flow is our responsibility.
Are you overwhelmed by your Twitter stream? Try pruning it down and see what happens. Hopefully, I will still be in your conversation flow, but if not, no hard feelings.