Need to declutter your timeline?  

tweet tweet

Awhile ago, I started paying a lot of attention to my Twitter timeline (since I see it every day in FlowReader). More specifically, I started noticing what type of content was showing up in my timeline every day.

And it wasn’t good – spam, retweets, repeat tweets, egg profiles, and just random tweets that didn’t interest me at all.

I follow a lot of profiles that match my personal passions and interests, but you couldn’t tell from my timeline. All the good stuff was getting lost in the rest of the tweeting clutter, so I started figuring out ways to start de-junking my Twitter timeline.

You might think it’s unrealistic to want every tweet in your timeline to be relevant to your interests, but I think with the right strategies it’s possible to get pretty close.

At the moment, FlowReader doesn’t offer any way to filter your timeline (cough – it’s in development – cough), but in the meantime, I’ve put together some tips that have helped me get rid of useless tweets and cut down on some of the extra noise. 

Manually Follow People Back for Better Quality Control

I’ve never used a tool on Twitter to automatically follow back, instead I manually follow back profiles.

Using a tool like SocialOomph can seem like an easy way to make sure you don’t miss out on an opportunity, but it can actually end up being pretty time-consuming.  There’s a lot of spam accounts on Twitter, so you’ll need to go through all the accounts you’ve automatically followed and weed out the bad profiles (either with another tool or by hand).

One of the perks of manually following people back is that it acts as a form of quality control. I’ll be honest, I haven’t always done a very good job at filtering who I follow and had to start from scratch a couple of times. But over time, I’ve learned to treat manual follow backs as an opportunity to look closely at the profiles that follow me and control what ends up in my timeline.

Here’s a few benefits I’ve noticed from doing this: 

  • Better control. I can take my time to see what profiles I’m following and make sure I skip the spam or fake accounts.
  • More chance to discover accounts that interest you. Read people’s bios and scan their most recent tweets if you have time. You’re more likely to figure out who’s tweets are worthy of your timeline and who’s aren’t.
  • Being picky means better content. I like to think of my timeline as the crème de la crème of tweets. Don’t follow if unless you want their updates.
  • More chances to connect. Manually following people back gives you a better opportunity to send real “thank you” tweets.

Basically, manually following accounts back not only allows you to control the quality of the tweets that end up in your timeline, it also provides more opportunities for you to engage with people.

Use Lists for Tweets You Don’t Want in Your Timeline

When I first started using Twitter, I made the mistake of going on a crazy following streak and it didn’t take long before my entire timeline was overpopulated with #teamfollowback tweets and a lot of other less than desirable content. Even though I followed accounts whose tweets I actually wanted to see, it eventually become nearly impossible for me to find them.

Twitter lets you create public or private lists of profiles into separate categories, which is another alternative way to rid yourself of extraneous tweets. If you’re interested in a specific topic, but would prefer to dip into the conversation when it’s convenient for you – consider using lists instead of following. It’s also nice if you have certain people you’d like to keep in contact with, but would prefer to keep their tweets out of your timeline.

create a twitter list

To create a list, you can add users by clicking on the gear icon next to the Follow button. From their you can create a new list or add/remove users from existing lists.

Turn off individual RTs for Individual Accounts

A lot of people I follow like to retweet other people’s content all the time. It can be a nice way for me to find other content from around Twitter and discover new accounts, but sometimes it’s too much. Instead of receiving updates from the person I wanted to hear from, I end up getting a bunch of tweets that I’d rather not see in my timeline.

Sound familiar?

Good thing Twitter saw this one coming. You have the option to turn RTs on and off for individual accounts of people that you follow. You’ll still get updates from the accounts, but it will only be their own tweets.

turn off retweets

To turn retweets off, just head to the person’s profile click the gear icon next to the Follow button and select “Turn of retweets” from the drop down menu.

Do a Regular Following Cleanup

I do a regular following cleanup for our company accounts as well as my own Twitter profile using ManageFlitter. This is a great opportunity to assess what’s in your timeline, clear out inactive accounts, or move people to lists.

ManageFlitter is an easy tool that helps me find out who’s not following me, bulk unfollow, and find new people to follow. They’ve also got a feature called PowerPost that suggests the best times to post based on your account and analytics of your activity are also available.

I usually clear out FlowReader’s profile following every couple of weeks, but I only do my own every 3-4 months. When you choose to do a cleanup is completely up to you and depends on the activity of your account. For example, I only follow a few new accounts every month so it’s not necessary for me to constantly prune my following. On the other hand, FlowReader’s account follows new people every day.

Learn to Accept You Can’t See Everything

Face the facts: you’re never going to see everything on Twitter. It was designed to be a real-time platform so unless you want to stay glued to your device day and night – the reality is that you’re going to miss some tweets.

In order to keep up with the content you don’t want to miss, figure out what types of content are most important to you and find alternative tools to separate it out. Twitter lists are a great way to separate content and make sure you can find the tweets you want or downloading a news app like Flipboard to avoid missing out on the bigger news stories out there.

RSS feeds are also a great way to make sure you don’t miss out on stories from your favorite websites. Using an RSS reader in addition to Twitter is a better option to make sure you keep up (ahem – we know a pretty cool service that lets you do both).

How have you learned to manage your following and declutter your Twitter timeline? Let us know what tips and tools you’re using.

Share with us here or on Facebook. You can also tweet to us directly, @flow_reader.