I’m done with auto-follow on Twitter

About 2 months ago I was introduced to a site called SocialToo.com. I created an account and added my Twitter credentials. I turned on the feature that would automatically follow anybody on twitter who started following me.

Yesterday, I canceled my account with SocialToo.com.

One feature they offered that I never used was the automatic direct message for new followers. They gave you a form field where you could craft a message that would be sent via direct message to every new person who follows you on Twitter. At first glance this seems like a cool feature. Send everybody a quick thank you for following. However, as Twitter grows, so do the amount of people who start to abuse features like this. Here was one of the DM's I got the other day.
Last DM
This was the final straw for me. It set off the following series of actions:

1. Canceled account at SocialToo.com
2. Used friendorfollow.com to find out who I'm following who's not following me.
3. Removed over 200 people I follow who started following me to get a follow-back and then stopped following me.

Up until last week my daily Twitter routine was this:
– Auto follow everybody who follows me.
– Each evening check out the profile, latest tweets and website for each new follower.
– Block spam-only twitter accounts from following me (which also unfollows them).

No more! Instead I'll skip step 1 and move right on to step 2. I'll follow back anybody who doesn't appear spammy, has tweets on topics I'm interested in, doesn't send out self-promotional links on more than 10% of their tweets. I will, of course, still block all spammy twitter accounts.

After 2 days of turning of my auto-follow and cleaning up my twitter follow list, I can honestly say that it's removed quite a bit of stress. For some reason the spammy automatic DMs were really pissing me off. I'll be happy if I never see another one!

(quick note: This post is in no way meant to suggest that socialtoo.com has anything to do with the spammy auto-dms. They simply provide a service that other people choose to take advantage of.)


  1. James D Kirk on February 25, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Totally with you John. I've thought about using the automated services from time to time, and like your discovery, realized that it will just lead to heartache and pain! I'll go in spurts at this point, but like you've outlined in this post, I tend to want to check out new follows twitter stream as well as a web site if they have one listed on their twitter profile. Then, I usually always follow back unless they are scum, er, spam!

  2. JasonMurphy on February 25, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    hrm… well that explains why I can't DM you anymore.

    OK, seriously (I say that obligatorily), twitter spam is over the top. I am actually finding myself using twitter less and less because of spam. I use twitterberry during events to track the when and how of after parties, and then turn on Tweetdeck whenever I get an email notification of a DM. Other than that, twitter is quickly replacing Facebook as the social network that bleh'd. And it isn't even considered "mainstream" yet.

    However – one thing I like about twitter is I CAN tap in and out of it at will. I don't have to commit to inviting all my friends, and joining groups, adding apps, posting pictures, etc. etc. – I can just take a glance at my feed, be satisfied, and leave my desk if I want to. OK, I <3 twitter again.

    • vegasgeek on February 25, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      Jason, I tend to use Facebook in more of a pedestrian fashion, so I've never felt any stress to check my account several times a day. But still, I know exactly where you are coming from. The nice part about the twitter stream is that it's just that, a stream. Hop in and out when you feel like it. The stream will keep right on flowing.

  3. vegasgeek on February 25, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for the comment, James.

    I should also mention that SocialToo emailed me telling me that I can just turn off the automatic DMs that originate from their service. I did not know that. I may go ahead and go back to auto-following and just stop the DMs. I think that would solve my main issue.

  4. Karen Swim on February 28, 2009 at 11:15 am

    I use the auto follow but not auto dm. I also use the auto unfollow. I find it easier (and faster) to just auto follow. I am finding that Twitter has becoming quite good at catching spammy accounts right away and suspending accounts. For me it's just a time management issue. I can follow people back quickly and then review new followers at my leisure. Not that I'm super popular but I am trying to manage my time well. 🙂

  5. dougdaulton on March 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Just did a follow purge myself.

  6. Beaded Bauble on March 4, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I want to turn off the auto direct message that people get when they follow me but I can't figure out where I signed up for that service. It isn't Tweet Later. Any ideas?

  7. vegasgeek on March 5, 2009 at 8:10 am

    The only other one I know about is called socialtoo.com. Maybe that's it.

  8. Disgusted on March 17, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I will never understand why people get so damn angry over "spam." Just ignore it and move on with your life. You act like you're some kind of privileged person that is too high and mighty to receive any form of solicitation. If there weren't any forms of solicitations in life, there wouldn't be any businesses. Step down off your pedestal and learn to play nice with the rest of us.

  9. vegasgeek on March 17, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Hey Disgusted, Thanks for the comment!

    Let me clear up something for you. I have zero problem with marketing and/or solicitations. As a matter of fact, on a platform like Twitter, I FULLY EXPECT to receive solicitations when reading people's tweets. But, what I'm opposed to is having an advert being the VERY FIRST thing that comes from following somebody.

    Here's an example, if you invite me to your house, if when I show up the first thing I say is, "Let me replace your tile for you.", you probably aren't going to invite me over very often (if ever again). But, if I come in and we start a conversation and after we are on comfortable terms I mention that I can redo your tile for you, you'll be a lot more receptive to the idea.

  10. Robert on March 20, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I have several sites, and after several months, I can have several hundred to thousands of spam coming through.

    I had one mailbox I gave up and checked back after one month… 200K of spam e-mails. It's to the point where I believe it's criminal.

    This is not one message from one business, It is the same crap we have been seeing (with slight variations) year after year… They are taking up my time and bandwidth. It is no different from allowing solicitors to call you on the phone dozens of times a day with the same message…. Happening to you, would you still feel the same way?…

  11. Kevin on March 24, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I know it's frustrating sometimes but that's going to happen with anything that gets really popular. Its part of the spirit of the net, and you just have to flow with it. nice post though, i feel your pain.

  12. pdfoxy on April 14, 2009 at 3:35 am

    I do not use SocialToo.com so I can not comment much

  13. joe gelb on May 7, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Great post. Probably marketers in general would benefit from having more hands on contact with their online friends. I agree that social automization is getting way out of hand. These bots and people are every where doing alot. But one day the robots will create great blogs and rennaisance art. Then we are screwed.

  14. mrs. r on August 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    i got suckered into using an auto follow. blah! now i can't remember with whom i set it up and i want it off! other thatn the one you used, which auto follow sites are out there. i am desperate–even contemplated deleted my account and starting over.

    any suggestions? twitter.com/therhouse

  15. JoeShade on March 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Awesome article … I'm relatively new to Twitter and appreciate the "do's" and "don't" about life online. But I must say I'm more inclined to give anyone a chance to follow, as long as they want to discuss common interests, solve a problem or provide some useful info. I'd appreciate any suggestions you pro's can share with me at twitter.com/JoeShadeShade