This post is inspired by this awesome article from Daniel Newman.

There’s been a bit of conversation in recent months about mass unfollows on Twitter. These have been carried out by folks with large followings, with the biggest complaints being the numbers were unmanageable; spam was an issue; etc.

Some onlookers have questioned how genuine these unfollows were; and if it wasn’t just an attention-seeking ploy. Discussions have being started, with folks from both sides of the unfollow coin sharing their reasons for support / disdain. Theories arose; and more questions were asked as opposed to answered.

Until now.

In this leaked email between two social media gurus, their reasoning can finally be shared as to what The Big Twitter Unfollow Purge of 2011 (as it has become known) was all about. The reasons might surprise you. Then again, probably not…

Anyhoo – here’s the email. Names have been changed for no reason other than it seems the fashionable thing to do when sharing a leaked email.

Project Unfollow Email

Social Media Guru A: “Okay, people aren’t talking about us as much any more – we’ve been found out for lack of real business acumen, and our blogs are empty shells of what they used to be. It sucks.”

Social Media Guru B: “I know. Remember when everyone was talking about us, thinking we were awesome? But now they see through us and think we’re less than average. If only we could get people talking about us again, so we feel as important as our egos tell us we should be.”

Social Media Guru A: “I know – let’s completely ignore all the advice we doled out while building our false reputations, and UnFollow everyone on Twitter, and blame it on spam. They don’t do anything for us, anyway – they don’t buy our affiliate programs any more. Who needs them?”

Social Media Guru B: “Great idea! We’ll make big announcements, make it sound like we’re the wronged party and everyone should feel sorry for us, even though there are a host of ways we can manage and filter all the stuff we’ll blame for the UnFollow.”

Social Media Guru A: “And to keep it buzzing along, we’ll do it at spaces apart from each other, and then promote each other’s words of angst.”

Social Media Guru B: “Love it! But won’t people see through it as nothing but an ego stroke and a desperate last throw of the dice to seem relevant?”

Social Media Guru A: “Not at all. I’ll make up some webinar and charge for it, describe it as something it isn’t, and the heat generated around that decision will make our UnFollows seem genuine. Then people will actually believe we cared about the feelings of those we strung along all these years, with our advice of reciprocal follows.”

Social Media Guru B: “Genius. Absolutely genius.”

Social Media Guru A: “Yeah, some suckers will trust anything we tell them, hehe. Okay – let’s start stroking those egos!”

End of email

Of course, the mass unfollows of 2011 are nothing new – this “experiment/event” already happened two years earlier with unfollows in 2009. So maybe not such a new trend after all.

Ah well, there’s always the Great Facebook Desertion Exercise. Oh – wait a minute…

image: Neil Crosby

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246 comments
Nanci Murdock
Nanci Murdock

I know! I'm like, WTH?! ..and now all those that had under 10,000 are now following, like, 72 people. Really? Very disappointing. Great "leaked" e-mail. Love it. /nm

Nanci Murdock
Nanci Murdock

I know! I'm like, WTH?! ..and now all those that had under 10,000 are now following, like, 72 people.

Really?

Very disappointing.

Great "leaked" e-mail. Love it.

/nm

EugeneFarber
EugeneFarber

So my initial assumption that it is a publicity stunt turned out to be true? Interesting.

EugeneFarber
EugeneFarber

So my initial assumption that it is a publicity stunt turned out to be true? Interesting.

Latest blog post: About Me

FranchiseKing
FranchiseKing

Here's my feeling on this whole really not that important topic; A. I'm starting to feel that it's become very fashionable to call out these "guru's." Of course by doing so, the people who are doing the calling out are benefiting from the traffic and the comment stream. B. I'm also getting the feeling that some of the folks who are calling the "guru's" out on SM stuff are running out of things to write about. C. It's pretty obvious that some of the bloggers that are blogging about Chris and Darren doing terrible stuff, (like trying to get things to a more manageable state) kind of wish that they had those manageability issues. (Because if they did, they wouldn't have time to write stuff like this.) Yes, Danny-like this. This stuff is all starting to reek of jealousy. Posts like this get people in the conversation, I suppose. But, what's the real goal? Again...what's the REAL goal to writing these slams? You know the answer. And, so do I. JL

FranchiseKing
FranchiseKing

Here's my feeling on this whole really not that important topic;

A. I'm starting to feel that it's become very fashionable to call out these "guru's." Of course by doing so, the people who are doing the calling out are benefiting from the traffic and the comment stream.

B. I'm also getting the feeling that some of the folks who are calling the "guru's" out on SM stuff are running out of things to write about.

C. It's pretty obvious that some of the bloggers that are blogging about Chris and Darren doing terrible stuff, (like trying to get things to a more manageable state) kind of wish that they had those manageability issues. (Because if they did, they wouldn't have time to write stuff like this.) Yes, Danny-like this.

This stuff is all starting to reek of jealousy.

Posts like this get people in the conversation, I suppose.

But, what's the real goal? Again...what's the REAL goal to writing these slams?

You know the answer.

And, so do I.

JL

Debra_Ellis
Debra_Ellis

Hi Danny, Thank you for the chuckle. Maybe the social media gurus believe the old saying "there's no such thing as bad publicity." Of course @ginidietrich could provide some guidance, but would they listen? I think not. Maybe we are feeding the monster by talking about it.... Watching the mass unfollow thing was amusing, but there were two things that I found surprising. First, automating the unfollow process is against Twitter's terms of service. How does one automate unfollowing thousands of people without being flagged? It appears that Twitter's TOS only applies to mere mortals. The second issue was the willingness to blatantly lie. During the mass unfollow, someone asked one of the gurus how many followers were lost by unfollowing so many. He responded that he had gained a few hundred. I couldn't resist checking. According to TwitterCounter, he had lost a few hundred. I tweeted the guru with a screen shot and asked if TwitterCounter was wrong. Not surprisingly, there wasn't a response. I'm a direct marketer and have been told repeatedly that I don't "get" social media. Maybe not, but I do get this: Social media is an excellent channel for connecting with individual customers on a one to one basis. It allows direct marketers access that was never available in the past. It's a shame that the juvenile and manipulative behavior of a few early adopters taint the channel.

Debra_Ellis
Debra_Ellis

Hi Danny,

Thank you for the chuckle.

Maybe the social media gurus believe the old saying "there's no such thing as bad publicity." Of course @ginidietrich could provide some guidance, but would they listen? I think not.

Maybe we are feeding the monster by talking about it....

Watching the mass unfollow thing was amusing, but there were two things that I found surprising. First, automating the unfollow process is against Twitter's terms of service. How does one automate unfollowing thousands of people without being flagged? It appears that Twitter's TOS only applies to mere mortals.

The second issue was the willingness to blatantly lie. During the mass unfollow, someone asked one of the gurus how many followers were lost by unfollowing so many. He responded that he had gained a few hundred. I couldn't resist checking. According to TwitterCounter, he had lost a few hundred. I tweeted the guru with a screen shot and asked if TwitterCounter was wrong. Not surprisingly, there wasn't a response.

I'm a direct marketer and have been told repeatedly that I don't "get" social media. Maybe not, but I do get this: Social media is an excellent channel for connecting with individual customers on a one to one basis. It allows direct marketers access that was never available in the past. It's a shame that the juvenile and manipulative behavior of a few early adopters taint the channel.

bdorman264
bdorman264

skypulsemedia is a FB deserter............just sayin'............ Very humorous and probably with a ring of truth. I learned early to at least do some cursory checking my follows and it has worked out well. Of course, I don't actively seek out new people for the most part so I guess I attract like minded people wherever I visit, huh? I got to meet Gini in real life last Monday and certainly look forward to the day we will be able to meet. If you are nervous, Gini might vouch for me and say I didn't try to stiff her with the bar bill..........:)

bdorman264
bdorman264

@skypulsemedia is a FB deserter............just sayin'............

Very humorous and probably with a ring of truth. I learned early to at least do some cursory checking my follows and it has worked out well. Of course, I don't actively seek out new people for the most part so I guess I attract like minded people wherever I visit, huh?

I got to meet Gini in real life last Monday and certainly look forward to the day we will be able to meet. If you are nervous, Gini might vouch for me and say I didn't try to stiff her with the bar bill..........:)

geoffliving
geoffliving

The best part about the great unfollowing is I know of only one of the two people who did it. I love being absent. Did I just say that?

geoffliving
geoffliving

The best part about the great unfollowing is I know of only one of the two people who did it. I love being absent. Did I just say that?

Rieva
Rieva

P.S. Danny, very funny blog

Rieva
Rieva

P.S. Danny, very funny blog

Rieva
Rieva

It's really all about reciprocity. There's something wrong with people who can't help you because they "are asked to do too many favors" or who "are too busy" or who "fill in the blank whine", but think it's perfectly fine to ask (or beg) their followers to follow their rules and buy their stuff. I still listen because it's often better than an episode of Days of Our Lives. It may be business, but the golden rule still applies.

Rieva
Rieva

It's really all about reciprocity. There's something wrong with people who can't help you because they "are asked to do too many favors" or who "are too busy" or who "fill in the blank whine", but think it's perfectly fine to ask (or beg) their followers to follow their rules and buy their stuff.

I still listen because it's often better than an episode of Days of Our Lives.

It may be business, but the golden rule still applies.

mattsanti4
mattsanti4

I just did this recently. Some guy even used another piece of software to call me out and said how I unfollowed him. We never had a conversation. And then too boot, all his tweets were in German. I'm about as fluent in German as the next guy. I went on a twitter diet. Guess what? Because I'm now following people I have developed relationships with, Twitter has become more fun, and I'm also getting a steady new following myself.

Debra_Ellis
Debra_Ellis

@FranchiseKing There's no doubt that some people write call out posts to generate traffic and drama. It a proven tactic that has even been recommended by some of the A-list bloggers. Some. Not all. And, having read most, if not all, of Danny's posts, he doesn't fall into the "some" category. While I rarely agree with everything he says (sorry Danny), he has been forthright in the things he shares. The problem with social media is that it is a new channel. People were placed on pedestals because they amassed thousands of followers . Some who took the cloak of authority grew to fill it with knowledge and insight. Others used it solely to promote their personal brand and improve their financial stability. The first group created a sustainable model. The second, not so much. You can tell the difference between the groups by looking at their activity. The first continue to test and grow. The second spend a lot of time whining about challenges and talking about unproven theories. There are new people entering the social media world every day. Are we to sit quietly while others provide misinformation and create drama? Or, should we call people out who aren't being forthright? If the goal is to shine a light in the dark corners, I vote for the call out.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@FranchiseKing And of course, that's the beauty of opinion, Joel - we all have them, and it's up to others to decide what's worth listening to and what's not. Here's my take for you, since you laid out your list: A. If you've read any of my posts from the last 6 months or so, you'll know I really don't care about traffic or comment streams. It's why I blog infrequently, and rarely promote my own posts. I enjoy great conversation, but that's a different beast completely from having a "comment stream". B. See answer above. But running out of things to say? No - just choosing what things to say, as opposed to being generic. Of course, that's in the eye of the beholder. C. Here'e the funny thing - most people don't have the "manageability issue" because they did smart things with their accounts, like not auto-follow and filter spam, DM's, etc. And the savings they got with that time? Used it on clients as opposed to complaining about manageability. D. Sorry, just noticed, there is no "D". However, your jealousy quip made me smile. I can't speak for others, but for me, I get to put my son to bed and wake up under the same roof every day. I get to spend quality home time with my family as opposed to traveling all over (it's a big reason I turn down speaking and conferences, my family is more important). And I'm fortunate enough to work with great clients and build success, which lets me be around my family instead of any alternative. Trust me, Joel, I have nothing to be jealous of. I have an idea many others don't, either. Like I say, we all have opinions. Some are right, some wrong. It's be pretty damn boring if only some were shared, because of mistaken views on the reasons they're being shared. Cheers.

Debra_Ellis
Debra_Ellis

@FranchiseKing There's no doubt that some people write call out posts to generate traffic and drama. It a proven tactic that has even been recommended by some of the A-list bloggers. Some. Not all. And, having read most, if not all, of Danny's posts, he doesn't fall into the "some" category. While I rarely agree with everything he says (sorry Danny), he has been forthright in the things he shares.

The problem with social media is that it is a new channel. People were placed on pedestals because they amassed thousands of followers . Some who took the cloak of authority grew to fill it with knowledge and insight. Others used it solely to promote their personal brand and improve their financial stability. The first group created a sustainable model. The second, not so much. You can tell the difference between the groups by looking at their activity. The first continue to test and grow. The second spend a lot of time whining about challenges and talking about unproven theories.

There are new people entering the social media world every day. Are we to sit quietly while others provide misinformation and create drama? Or, should we call people out who aren't being forthright? If the goal is to shine a light in the dark corners, I vote for the call out.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@FranchiseKing And of course, that's the beauty of opinion, Joel - we all have them, and it's up to others to decide what's worth listening to and what's not. Here's my take for you, since you laid out your list:

A. If you've read any of my posts from the last 6 months or so, you'll know I really don't care about traffic or comment streams. It's why I blog infrequently, and rarely promote my own posts. I enjoy great conversation, but that's a different beast completely from having a "comment stream".

B. See answer above. But running out of things to say? No - just choosing what things to say, as opposed to being generic. Of course, that's in the eye of the beholder.

C. Here'e the funny thing - most people don't have the "manageability issue" because they did smart things with their accounts, like not auto-follow and filter spam, DM's, etc. And the savings they got with that time? Used it on clients as opposed to complaining about manageability.

D. Sorry, just noticed, there is no "D". However, your jealousy quip made me smile. I can't speak for others, but for me, I get to put my son to bed and wake up under the same roof every day. I get to spend quality home time with my family as opposed to traveling all over (it's a big reason I turn down speaking and conferences, my family is more important). And I'm fortunate enough to work with great clients and build success, which lets me be around my family instead of any alternative. Trust me, Joel, I have nothing to be jealous of. I have an idea many others don't, either.

Like I say, we all have opinions. Some are right, some wrong. It's be pretty damn boring if only some were shared, because of mistaken views on the reasons they're being shared.

Cheers.

Latest blog post: The Art of Flying Blind

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@Debra_Ellis Oh the bad publicity thing. I guess it's the same as the baseball player who said he didn't care what people said about him when he came up to bat, as long as they knew who he was.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@Debra_Ellis@ginidietrich Haha, I can imagine which one, too... ;-) The ToS question is a valid one, and one that's been raised a few times around the web. Like you say, if it were Generic Average Social Media User, would the flaunting of the ToS had been allowed? Maybe. But I have my BS meter beeping madly... ;-)

keithprivette
keithprivette

@Debra_Ellis Oh Debra you get social media very well!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@Debra_Ellis@ginidietrich Haha, I can imagine which one, too... ;-)

The ToS question is a valid one, and one that's been raised a few times around the web. Like you say, if it were Generic Average Social Media User, would the flaunting of the ToS had been allowed?

Maybe. But I have my BS meter beeping madly... ;-)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@bdorman264skypulsemedia So I'm the only one picking up your bar tab these days? Sheesh... It's like anything, mate - you want quality, you have to seek quality. Otherwise you end up in a crud barrel...

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@Rieva That's the biggest bugbear, Rieva. People can understand the noise factor, but when you are basically saying, "I'm tired of your questions for help:. and then you're asking those same people for help in selling your stuff? Riiiight.... ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@Rieva That's the biggest bugbear, Rieva. People can understand the noise factor, but when you are basically saying, "I'm tired of your questions for help:. and then you're asking those same people for help in selling your stuff? Riiiight.... ;-)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@mattsanti4 Following less will definitely make anything more manageable - does that mean people need to delete all though, when there are a ton of ways to manage incoming feeds effectively? It kinda raises questions about what advice clients are getting... ;-)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@Debra_Ellis@FranchiseKing Hell, it'd be pretty boring if we all agreed with what we read or saw, Debra - if that was the case, I think I'd give up blogging altogether! :) Nice points, by the way - cheers!

FranchiseKing
FranchiseKing

@DannyBrown Thanks, Danny. I'm happy for your success. Big time. Keep on doing what works for you. I still don't feel that the guys deserve to be slammed. (Not for "unfollowing," anyway) Chris and Daren have both nice a nice job. They're both very professional, and the things that they did early on---before most of us, deserve our respect. I know them both. I like them and trust them. I'm happy to defend people that I feel do a good job. They're not perfect, though. If you know me even a little bit, I have no problem calling out anyone who deserves it. Friends or not. I'm going back to work now. JL

FranchiseKing
FranchiseKing

@Danny Brown Thanks, Danny. I'm happy for your success. Big time. Keep on doing what works for you.

I still don't feel that the guys deserve to be slammed. (Not for "unfollowing," anyway)

Chris and Daren have both nice a nice job. They're both very professional, and the things that they did early on---before most of us, deserve our respect.

I know them both. I like them and trust them.

I'm happy to defend people that I feel do a good job. They're not perfect, though. If you know me even a little bit, I have no problem calling out anyone who deserves it. Friends or not.

I'm going back to work now.

JL

Debra_Ellis
Debra_Ellis

@DannyBrown@ginidietrich My BS meter overloaded last week. It's a good thing because the constant beeping was annoying.

Debra_Ellis
Debra_Ellis

@keithprivette Thank you Keith. I love social media because it fills the gap between direct marketing and brick-and-mortar by allowing us to connect with our customers.

Debra_Ellis
Debra_Ellis

@keithprivette Thank you Keith. I love social media because it fills the gap between direct marketing and brick-and-mortar by allowing us to connect with our customers.

Rieva
Rieva

@FranchiseKing I know YOU do Joel. But a lot of people preach, yet don't practice it.

Rieva
Rieva

@FranchiseKing I know YOU do Joel. But a lot of people preach, yet don't practice it.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@MSchechter@FranchiseKing More the hand-wringing "feel" that much of it had. I know people who've culled thousands of dead accounts, spam bots, etc (I culled 7,000+ from Twitter alone) but didn't feel the need to make it anything than what it was - a cleansing exercise. Do we really need a long explanation of why you're unfollowing?

MSchechter
MSchechter

@FranchiseKing@DannyBrown Just out of curiosity Danny, are you calling out the actual unfollowing or the giant deal being made out of said unfollowing?

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@MSchechter@FranchiseKing More the hand-wringing "feel" that much of it had. I know people who've culled thousands of dead accounts, spam bots, etc (I culled 7,000+ from Twitter alone) but didn't feel the need to make it anything than what it was - a cleansing exercise. Do we really need a long explanation of why you're unfollowing?

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