As this chart from Twitterholic shows, less than 24 hours after unfollowing 12,000 people, I was unfollowed by over 3,500 followers!
My first observations/conclusions are as follows:
1. So far, no one from the list of people I interact with regularly has unfollowed me.
2. There were LOTS of bots and spammers following me, who were only interested in a recipricol follow (which I’m happy to lose).
3. There is a big advantage to following back your followers, in that you can always tell if someone is following you just by looking at their feed. If I don’t ever go back to a 1:1 ratio, not being able to know this will take some getting used to.
4. I am going to add the initial people back very quickly, because I miss the DMs that this group sends me (I don’t miss DMs from spammers or bots).
5. There are many people who take the “follow back” ethic very seriously and personally. I received more than one email angry email suggesting that I was being very rude. If that’s the case, I apologize. I tried to take precautions against this by warning people in the days leading up to this experiment (which served the dual purpose of telling me who is reading my Tweets). In any case, my reason for doing this experiment was not to be rude, but to learn more about the dynamics of following/unfollowing on Twitter, and for the next several days I’ll be monitoring what happens.
(PS – Interestingly, although my goal was to make it down to zero before adding people back, Twitter’s odd numbering system never let me get down below 92 people on my follower list, despite not having a record that I was following anyone. In addition to that, Tweets from people who I no longer followed continued to show up in my feed until I replaced them with newly re-followed people.)