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08/10/2009 It's Time to Purge the Purgers


The big news last week was that social media superstar Robert Scoble had purged the people he followed from his Twitter account. He went from following 90,000 to none in no time. Scoble had instituted an Auto-Follow for his Twitter crowd, meaning that if you followed him, he would automatically follow you back. Lots of big swinging Tweets, like Guy Kawasaki, do this. The problem for Scoble is that he says he received too much spam. Now that he wasn't following anyone, the spam problem disappeared.

Well good for him. But the problem is that a number of other people followed suit (it wouldn't be social media if they didn't now, would it) and it raises an interesting question about Twitter. 

Why should you really follow someone if they don't follow you back?

The great excitement and promise for Twitter is that it is the best two-way thing out there. We've been talking interactive and one-to-one for almost 15 years now, and Twitter is probably the closest we've come. But it's playing out in two ways:
  • Individuals who you can actually listen to and connect with in real time; and
  • Broadcasters who are using Twitter to blast out their message, seeing it as another outreach medium
The problems start when broadcasters start posing as individuals. Pete Cashmore isn't really on Twitter, Mashable is. And now Robert Scoble is removing himself from Twitter as well, it's a Scobleizer broadcast instead. They're more like CNN and USAToday then they are like Chris Brogan.

The biggest problem I have with this is that it's not authentic. Seth Godin, as usual, is a good model here. He's realized that he can't have relationships with so many people at once, so rather than using the relationship tool Twitter and faking it, he eschews it completely. He's being very honest. However, over the years, every time I've sent Seth an email, no matter how trivial, he's answered it within 24 hours. Talk about authentic! He obviously doesn't need Twitter and will not compromise what he stands for.

I mentioned Chris Brogan before. He has as many followers as Scoble. Right now, he's still following them back. And Chris is great at answering DMs and email. He's been a huge help in the few things I've asked him.

Purge.sm I think we need to #PURGE the broadcasters posing as individuals. The reality is that it hurts them more than it hurts us. If someone unfollows me, big deal, I'm not basing my marketability on the number of Twitter followers I have. But broadcasters do. It's the only measure they have, since they're in a one-way conversation. It's like Nielsen TV ratings for them.

And if they broadcast something really interesting, some of their remaining followers will probably ReTweet it, so we're not really missing anything.

Except a two-way relationship.

So long, @scobleizer, I hardly new you. #PURGE

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