When I first turned my attention to Twitter in early 2012, I didn’t think much of it. My account was plagued with the “Blank Page Bug” that afflicted new users at that time. There was a way-too-complicated workaround. I couldn’t be bothered.

I liked Facebook, used it almost daily for community building and book promotion. How good could a social net like Twitter be when you can only use 140 characters?

The bug got fixed in January 2013, and I discovered I liked Twitter a lot. People promote their books relentlessly (which is fine by me; more about Book Promotion in another blog) and with less guilt than on Facebook where you’re supposed to tone things down (more about that later, too) and be all touchy-feely. The Twitter newsfeed zips by so fast and each Tweet is even more ephemeral than Facebook posts, so there is a feel of fluidity about it I like.

Moreover, I soon discovered a community of people who were happy to Retweet book promotions and posts about writing, far more so than on Facebook. Twitter turned out to be a lot of fun, with more of a community spirit than you might imagine.

And when I Tweet my books, they sell.

I’m sold.

In a scant six months, with several long stretches of offline time to finish books and retool my office, I’ve built 3,050 Followers on Twitter at @lisaSmason. Wow!

(By contrast, it took me three years to build 4,677 Friends on my Facebook Profile Page, poking along since the January 2013 launch of my Facebook Author Page along at 484. Ten years ago, as a traditionally published author, I had 26,000 books in print of one title alone. Those pesky numbers aren’t quite lining up yet like I want them to.)

Now, then.

In my quest to build my Follower list, I stumbled upon several automated Tweets in the feeds of people I was Following, to the effect of, “My daily stats, 50 new Followers, 2 Unfollowers.” There are several apps that do something similar with different app names, True Twit Validation and other variations of justunfollow. But justunfollow.com was the one I clicked on.

It’s a very good site with a very good basic free service. (As with all such sites, more sophisticated apps cost you money.) The free service searches your Following list and pulls out those people who have not Followed you.

Why does that matter?

You want to keep your Following/Follower ratio balanced, for starters. At the risk of adding a whiff of junior high school, you don’t want to be perceived as following a whole lot more people than those who follow you.

And second, people you follow who don’t follow you don’t do you any good. You could Tweet your heart out, but they won’t see it, won’t Retweet it, won’t connect you to more people. But when they Tweet, their Tweets may clog up your feed.

Justunfollow spits out a list of these people—people you’ve Followed who don’t Follow you. Unless someone is important—say, a movie rights literary agent who doesn’t follow you or anyone, but whose Twitter name is good to hang onto in case you need to Tweet or Message him—delete them all. Frankly, they’re of little use to you, socially or professionally.

So far, so good!

Once I opted in to justunfollow, I noticed the “Daily stats” Tweets showing up in my feed, but I was Tweeting so much, it didn’t dawn on me that such Tweets are two things: (1) dead Tweets with no content, and (2) free advertising for the app—at my expense.

I finally got the message when I went offline for three weeks to seriously retool. Came roaring back into Twitter to resume building up my community and crafting my book promotions and lo! there were “Daily stats” Tweets for three weeks straight.

I was horrified! Manually deleted them all. A misguided Follower actually Retweeted a bunch of them. After working hard to build relationships and craft a campaign for my 27 book titles on three retailers, I would have much preferred a black hole during the time I was offline than a slew of automated dead Tweets.

What to do?

I can’t advise you on the other automated apps, but on justunfollow.com go to the home page. At the left of the screen is an orange list of options. At the bottom of the list, is the option Automate. Click on that. You’ll go to a menu of choices, the first of which is “Post my daily stats.” That choice is default-checked.

Uncheck that box! Uncheck it now!

The founder of the site assured me you can use all the other functions, such as editing your Following list, without the “Daily stats” message clogging up your finely crafted feed.

So there you have it, my friends. Use automated list management apps, by all means, but search around for their self-promotion agenda. Don’t make it your own.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more, on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

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