How to make your Twitter feed (finally) interesting?

DAMNED JOB!  is a section where Olivier Schmouker answers your most crispy [and most relevant] questions about the modern business world… and, of course, its quirks. An appointment to read on  Tuesdays  and  Thursdays . Do you want to participate? Send us your question at  [email protected]

Q. – “I use Twitter as a news feed that keeps me up to date with important information in my field. At first, it was super interesting. But today, it’s nonsense: I have to scroll for hours before coming across relevant information. Since the arrival of Elon Musk, it seems worse to me. I’m tempted to log out of Twitter for good, like a lot of people are doing right now…”  – Harold

A. — Dear Harold, it is true that the latest trend is to disconnect from Twitter, and proclaim it loud and clear on all other social media. Those who take action are thus protesting against the libertarian approach of Elon Musk, who advocates “total” freedom of expression, with respect for law and justice, pluralism and the free exchange of ideas. They express their categorical refusal to take part in a “souk of ideas”, where one finds everything jumbled up, being accustomed for a long time to the “supermarkets of ideas”, where each thing is presented with precision and rigor, in a perfect order, not to say Cartesian. I dug into acquaintances who left Twitter in the past few days. They confirmed to me their refusal to appear in the middle of a public square where all opinions, no matter how bland or extreme they are, are free to share. And they added two interesting things: “Anyway, I didn’t find anything interesting there anymore” and “Anyway, I wasn’t really going there anymore”.

In other words, as you noted, Harold, there is a serious content quality problem in Twitter feeds, and that problem is enough to disgust people. And then, the situation is likely to get worse with the libertarian approach of the new owner.

What to do? It turns out that all these thoughts, I had them myself a few months ago, and I was then strongly tempted to “flush” Twitter. But I remembered my beginnings on this social media and the great help it had been for me, at the time, in finding ideas for subjects to be covered for the newspaper Les Affaires. I then thought for a long time, wondering how I could find the Twitter of that time. And guess what, I found the solution!

The trick is to do what I call the “big big big clean up”. It’s about purging all the “junk” from your Twitter account to keep only the bare necessities, which can be done in four steps.

1. Choose a domain

You indicate, Harold, that your use of Twitter is professional, that it is used to inform you in your field. Perfect. Now determine precisely this area, and keep in mind in all the following steps that the absolute priority is this one area. For my part, I have retained two: life at work and economy.

2. Purge your subscriptions

Go to the list of your subscriptions. Consider the first in the list by asking yourself the following four questions:

– Is this person a reference in the field that interests me?

– Does she tweet almost every day of the week?

– Do I remember a tweet from this person?

– Did this tweet really teach me something in my field?

If at least one of the answers is “no”, do not hesitate for a second: unsubscribe from this person. Then move on to the next one, always asking yourself the same four questions.

Yes, the process is tedious because, you like me, we subscribed to anyone over time. We’ve subscribed to aunts and uncles to keep them happy, or to pop stars and sports stars to find out what’s going on in their busy lives. Big mistake! It is because of all these subscriptions that our Twitter feed is now overflowing with “nonsense”, that is to say tweets that have nothing to do with the field that interests us.

For your information, Harold, I have thus gone from more than 3,000 subscriptions to approximately… 200. And I intend to start the operation again soon to drop to a hundred.

3. Purge your subscribers

How does that, you will say to me, remove people who follow you? Yes, for a simple reason: the list of those who follow you is full of fake accounts. However, they display areas of interest that do not correspond to yours, and casually, this negatively influences the content that Twitter algorithms favor for you. 

It is therefore a question of eliminating all the fake Twitter accounts that followed me. And believe me, these fake accounts, there are a lot of them!

How to spot a fake account? It’s not rocket science, because their creators never break their heads:

– The account name is ridiculous: @Pauline99410703, @ziv82243859, etc.

– No photo of anyone

– Very small number of subscriptions

– Almost no subscribers

– Almost no activity

These clues can be spotted at a glance. It only takes one to catch your eye to let you know it’s a fake account. Unsubscribe without hesitation.

In 2020, I had fun watching what was happening with one of the most popular accounts in the world, that of Donald Trump . Results? Only 10% of his followers were real people interested in what he tweeted. It’s that nearly 90% of those who followed him were fake accounts. Yes, you read that right: 90%.

And to think that at the time journalists assiduously followed his tweets, believing that each of them had a phenomenal effect. They had no idea that the real sounding board for his tweets was them, who echoed in the traditional media his brief messages of a handful of words…

For your information, Harold, this operation may delete a large number of accounts that follow you. But there’s no regrets, it’s a fake account, so you’ll finally have the truth about the effect you really have.

4. Purge your Twitter feed

Now and whenever you check your Twitter feed from now on, don’t just scroll. As soon as you come across a tweet or retweet that doesn’t match your domain, flush the person who made that tweet or retweet.

Be ruthless on this point. Make no exceptions. Flush, flush and flush again. Because it is this rigorous practice that will allow your Twitter feed to never again be polluted by “nonsense”.

There you go, Harold. Take these four steps and you’ll see that within a day or two your Twitter feed will be a great workhorse again. As far as I’m concerned, the result has been downright wonderful. I have become addicted to Twitter again, as I now only find relevant and unpublished information. It’s quite simple, every tweet I read now could be the subject of a blog post for “Damn job!”. No more no less.

In short, get started without delay in the “big big big cleaning”. And you will see a radical change, worthy of the passage from night to day.

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