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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to Automate Your Twitter Follower List

By Paul Boutin

If you have a Twitter account, you’ll inevitably begin getting notices from the service that you’re being followed by people you’ve never heard of. Should you follow them back?

One school of thought says no, because they might be hustlers working some sort of scam. The other, to which I belong, says it’s easier to configure Twitter to automatically follow anyone who follows you, then remove the people who later annoy you. It’s much less mouse work, plus it keeps you from having to stop to decide separately whether to follow every single new follower. Set it, forget it, and save your clicking finger for unfollowing a few troublemakers.

To automate Twitter, I use a service called SocialToo. It scours your new followers list about once a day. It will check to see if any of your new followers have been identified as spammers — people who blast marketing messages to millions — or phishers trying to get you to cough up your account password so they can use it to scam your friends. Then SocialToo will configure your Twitter account to follow those it deems to be honest Twitter users. You’ll know when SocialToo runs, because you’ll get a burst of automated direct messages back from users who have configured them.

Do you have a backlog of followers to follow back but have yet to accomplish the dull task of clicking through the entire list? For a one-time charge of $5, payable through PayPal, SocialToo will go through the list and follow all of them. I recently caught up with over 4,000 new Twitter friends with less than a minute of typing on SocialToo. Jesse Stay, the company’s chief executive, says the service charges for the catch-up task because it’s a much bigger load on SocialToo’s servers.

Removing people you don’t want to follow is much easier than it used to be on Twitter, once you know where to look. Roll your mouse over the picture or the user name on the left side of an offending post on Twitter’s Web interface. You don’t even need to click. Up pops up a dialog box. Click the gear icon in the lower right corner of the dialog and a menu appears, including an Unfollow option. Click that, and that individual is gone.

Have a how-to question about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace or another social network? Hit me
up on Facebook, Twitter,  All correspondence will be kept confidential.


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