(Click here for the second part of this post.)

Before I get to the problem with my Twitter strategy (and what I intend to do about it), I want to explain a few things first.

As of today, I have 12,730 followers on Twitter.

The way I’ve built my following is fairly simple.  I post updates that are focused on my expertise (education technology, charitable fundraising, and web marketing), and I make myself easy to find for people who are interested in the same topics, I update at regular intervals daily, and I follow back individuals who follow me unless they are a spammer or look weird. 

In addition to this, I have been on Twitter for awhile, and in my early days I proactively sought out other like-minded and interesting Twitterers and I introduced myself to them by following them.  Many times they followed me back, @replied me, or interacted with me offline.  I also talk to people via Twitter, respond to DMs, and maintain public profiles on Flickr and at this blog at www.willmarlow.com to give my followers more insight into my personality and my work.  In addition to all of this, as the cofounder of AlumniFidelity.com, I am regularly interacting with customers, investors, and end-users who are tech-savvy.  This has led to lots of my followers.

I also never engage in obnoxious spam activity or use obnoxious Twitter “clients” that alienate the people who I hope to interact with.

One problem with my Twitter strategy is that my liberal “follow back” approach (like Guy Kawasaki, I follow people back as part of Twitter courtesy), I have accumulated a large number of spammers and faux-followers in my following column, which I have recently gotten sick of.  It occurred to me that I’m currently following a large number of feeds that I don’t read, and the fact that I’m following them increases their own credibility (spammers try to build up followes for that reason, I’m compiling a list of users who I interact with regularly, or whose insights I appreciate, or who I happen to know are legitimate users, and I’m going to unfollow all 12,400 people, with the exception of this relatively small list.

If you are NOT a spammer, and I’m currently following you, please @reply me or DM me if you want me to add you to my private list of people who I will follow back after I hit zero.

I’m not sure how long it will take me, but starting in 6 days, I’m going to unfollow all 12,400 people, until I reach zero, and then I will slowly begin adding followers who I’m truly interested in.

To summarize: problem = I’m following too many spammers and bots on Twitter.  Solution: unfollow everyone, and re-follow only a select number of people who I am actually interested in. 

As always, send me an email if you want to chat about any of this.

Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, and Bowling Green State University, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Email him at will@alumnifidelity.com