The Pareto Principle – 80% of something comes from 20% of something – is so often repeated that it’s cliche.

It’s also true.

The majority of your revenue comes from a minority of customers.

The majority of your time spent on anything is focused on a minority of time sinks.

and so forth.

Twitter’s no different. Recently, Robert Scoble unfollowed everyone. He paid a service to do a mass, mass unfollow of hundreds of thousands of people and has been manually refollowing since then. For those of us with fewer connections than Robert, it’s worth pointing out that the majority of crap in your Twitter stream comes from a minority of people. Filter them out, unfollow them, and you’ll see Twitter become usable again.

My criteria for an instant unfollow are pretty simple:

1. If you talk about making money on Twitter at all, you’re gone. This is the fastest and easiest kill of all.

2. If you talk without listening – meaning your stream has absolutely no conversation, you’re gone. Doubly so if all you’ve got are sales and promotions.

3. If you just retweet with nothing else, nothing original, not even “my cat just threw up!”, you’re gone, because you’re probably a robot.

4. If you’re a robot, you’re gone. Robots are fairly easy to spot – unlike humans, they typically truncate tweets mid word over and over again in their stream.

5. If you’ve just got stuff I don’t care about in your stream, you’re gone. One person had nothing but quotes from Jesus in their stream. Not my cup of tea, being Buddhist and all. Another person was a true cat blogger and cat tweeter with nothing else. I have a cat, so rather than experience their cat vicariously, I’ll just peek at my lump of gray fur.

Here’s a simple way to weed out the crap. Once an hour, go to your Twitter home page. Browse through the tweets. Cull off any stupidity or robots you see, and repeat for a couple of days. It takes literally seconds to peek quickly and make a decision – we’re not talking a major investment of your time at all.

You’ll find that just by pruning out the garbage after a few runs, Twitter will be easier to use. The Pareto Principle holds true – 80% of your crap is from 20% of your follows, so nuke them.

If you use a client like Tweetdeck, you’ll find you miss fewer updates from friends, especially if you follow a lot of people. All clients like Tweetdeck pull a limited number of tweets from your stream on a regular basis, so the more crap you filter out, the less likely it is you’ll miss good stuff from your friends.

Remember, unfollowing someone doesn’t mean you stop communicating with them. You can and always should be monitoring without needing to follow – if you haven’t grabbed a copy, go get the Twitter Power Guide eBook. It’s free.


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