Friday, May 8, 2015

How Can I Know Who Will Eventually Unfollow Me?

Earlier tonight I tweeted “I think I can predict w/ about 70-80% accuracy which “non-spam/commercial” Twitter account will un-follow me based on their bio & tweets.” 

I wanted to wrap up the day but Charles Webster – aka @wareflo – kept me going by tweeting “@ShimCode what do the people who unfollow you have in common?”  

Here’s a quick, more than 140 character, reply to Chuck’s question as to how I think I can determine, in advance, who will likely unfollow me. It’s actually pretty easy. Here’s how I can tell which followers are extremely likely to unfollow me. The more of the following attributes involved, the higher the likelihood that the account will unfollow.

Note: These criteria are loosely ordered by the importance/impact of each reason according to how I interpret the reason. But, of course, in certain scenarios there are exceptions and combinations that alter their order. And these reasons are unique to me; although variations can be made for all Twitter users.

They’re playing the “Follow-Unfollow” game to gain followers.

Anyone around Twitter for any length of time should know of this trick. It's non-organic and I don’t use it.
I’ve had some people follow & unfollow me 6-7 times. Eventually they unfollow for good when the service they are likely paying for figures out I’m not going to follow them.
Incompatible Tweeps

There are people who don’t tweet very often, they don’t share my area of interest, and/or they have private accounts.
Why would I follow these people?
Impulse Followers/Accidental Followers

Every now and then I share something that really strikes a chord and I see a spike in followers. Then the person who followed me realizes my content is not for them. Then they drop off.
No comment – they get a pass. When I find someone I'm not sure of, I place them on a watch list.
Triple X and MLM Accounts
I block the really overt ones. The rest usually go away on their own. Or are killed off by Twitter.
People Who Hate Health Plans, Insurance Companies and Payers

Some people just hate insurance companies. Once they learn I’ve worked on the health plan side, they bolt.
I’ve worked on what some people ignorantly consider the “Evil-Side” for 25 years. Deal with it!
People Who Don’t Agree with my Tweets
What can I say?

Occasionally – but way less than years past  – I express my fiscally conservative politics. Some “liberals” just can’t tolerate a different opinion. Go figure.
But be advised, my four 20-something offspring who dragged me a bit to the left these past 10-15 years have started to pay taxes. And I've been getting a reprieve.
Anti-2nd Amendment – Anti-Gun People

I'm a strong supporter of free speech and gun rights. Once some people learn this they’re gone.
But they can rest assured I'll not stop defending their right to speak and everyone's right to protect themselves.
My Call a Spade a Spade Attitude

I’m not going to be untrue to myself and be a high-fiving, backslapping, go along to get along lemming. So many people on Twitter are so Polly-Annish they make me sick.
Sorry, I’m just not gonna be a backslapper.
People that work for organizations that are against most or all of the topics mentioned above are likely to not want to hear/read what I tweet.
See #2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 above.
I didn't follow them back right away - or ever.

In general, within the parameters outlined above, I follow people who follow me. I know this is controversial but I make extensive use of lists and filters so following thousands is not an imposition.
Too bad. I've been getting about 100-150 new followers a week and can't always stay on top of reviewing new followers.
So there you have it. I suppose I could develop an app to predict who will unfollow based on scoring followers using the above. But what value would it provide and who would buy it?

BTW Chuck, I unfollowed you once; probably for items #5, 6, 7 & 9?


  1. Hi Steve,

    Great list! You're one of the most authentic tweeps I follow on Twitter. I literally read almost every one of your tweets. (I follow you on Twitter and I try to read every tweet of every person I follow).

    I hope you don't mind if I note that I don't think anyone can find any tweet of mine that indicates a strong political leaning in any direction. In fact, if you look at who I follow, it's a broad political spectrum, from the far right to the far left. I do this intentionally. For variety, and, because, just maybe, no single political party has all the answers.

    Anyway, I enjoy your tweets, especially lately (upping your game!). Like I said, I try to read every tweet from you (not tweeted to someone I don't follow), and your tweets are among the most frequent of my RTs.

    Thank you again for your authenticity and high quality tweets, especially about coding, terminology, and nomenclature.

    Very best


  2. Thanks Chuck. To be clear, I am saying that MY more conservative political stance - more so in the past than the here and now - could have been an impetus for people to unfollow me.

    I think that sometimes what might not be considered overtly political by some people has a clear political basis or at least undertone. Point in case being the ACA and the "we need to pass it so we can read it" mentality. So while some people may not believe or think they are sharing politics, by loudly supporting the ACA they have, in my mind, taken a political stance. Does that make any sense? To be sure I'm not saying any of your tweets are overtly or covertly political.

    Again, thanks for your comments.

  3. You did a great job of thinking this through and can't disagree with a one though I have never thought beyond the first. It took me a while to get past #1 as I find this the most egregious. I have no issue with someone unfollowing me because of my topic focus, politics, or no follow back but I consider the follow unfollow game a form of bullying on the internet. A waste and disrespect of social media and the person especially to those of us who are very forthright in our bios.

    I also agree with Chuck, when he refers to your untempered candidness on health care issues (especially healthIT); it is my major draw notwithstanding trusted knowledge on the subject.

    1. Thank you Anneliz. The “thinking this through” comment is curious to me because I popped off that post off in 10-15 minutes (and most of that was for the formatting). I was very tired and on my way to bed when I had that interaction with Chuck; and I just had to respond in more than 140 characters. My fingers could barely type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.

      And I totally agree with your take on the “Follow-Unfollow” approach. Why not just “buy” followers?

      Moreover, thanks for your comment on my approach and healthcare knowledge. I really enjoy my career/work/vocation choice. Some people have said I have no “governor.” I don’t necessarily agree but I suppose I may have been a little rough on myself in the 70’s and early 80’s so maybe sometimes I do need to throttle back a bit.

      Thanks again for your comment and your support Anneliz.

  4. Steve - I love this post! It is dead on! You have a great way of articulating what I think but don't make the time to blog about so others could benefit! The only thing I do differently is try to avoid politics altogether though I have "gone there" on #ICD10, the dangers of head injuries in youth football, and now #PatientAdvocacy. You typically expose me to anywhere from 3-10 things each day that I would not otherwise seen and you make me smarter! For that I am extremely grateful! As my bro-in-laws says ... Carry On!

    1. Thanks Joe. I like what I do and use computers and the Internet to fill in the time I’m not able to be with my family and/or go fishing! And I’ve got you on the politics. Indeed I think those who read my stuff/tweets have observed a marked decrease in those kinds of commentary over the last 2+ years.

      BTW, your comment about ‘head injuries in youth football’ reminds me that I got a couple concussions playing high school football. Maybe that explains things!? :)


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