Social networking is changing the way we connect and communicate with each other. There’s no question about that. One of the unique ways it changes our conversations with friends and acquaintances is that you may think the conversation is still going well after the other party has walked away.
I’m talking about friends who’ve unfriended (or unfollowed) you. You don’t want to be the guy or girl following hundreds of people who only have 3 followers in return. (Ouch.) Here’s how to manage several major social networking sites to keep your lists of followers healthy.
Facebook and Twitter
We’ve covered both of these before, so this is just a quick overview. For the full scoop on Facebook. For Twitter, Our application of choice for managing Facebook friends has been Unfriend Finder, but for the past several weeks the site has been unresponsive. (Rumors online are that the project has been abandoned.) However, there are a number of Facebook apps (Who Deleted Me and Social Fixer, to name a couple) that will do more or less the same thing—notify you when a friend drops you from their friend's list right on your Facebook page.
For Twitter, there are a number of options, but NutshellMail is the one we recommend. The service does a lot more than just track lost followers, and it summarizes activity in emails you receive on a schedule you set.
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Google+ is more like Twitter than Facebook when it comes to followers. You can add folks to your circles (which is more or less like following them) without them adding you back. To find out who you’ve added but hasn’t added you, there’s Uncircle Circlers+.
Uncircle Circlers+ is cumbersomely named, but the extension proves to be a handy little addition to Chrome for managing your Google+ account. Simply add the extension to Chrome and then click the button it adds in the top right-hand corner of your Chrome toolbar. Uncircle Circlers+ will then analyze your circles and tell you who hasn’t added you back. You can even drop people directly from the results in mass, making it a breeze to use.
Xkit is a beast of a tool for anyone who uses Tumblr regularly. The extension itself (available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and RockMelt) is a hub that puts a wide variety of extensions created exclusively for Tumblr at your fingertips. There are lots of goodies and tools in the extensions library, some of which are installed by default. One such extension is the Mutual Follower Checker.
To install Xkit, follow the download instructions on the website. (It will detect which browser you are using and send you to the correct version automatically.) Then log into Tumblr and it will complete the install. Once the installation is finished, you’ll notice an Xkit icon at the top of your Tumblr home screen. From here, you can add and remove extensions and manage Xkit.
To see who doesn’t follow you back, go to your followers page. In the sidebar, there will be a “Mutual Checker” button. Click it and Xkit will work its magic, giving you a list of the folks who you follow but who don’t follow you in return.
Keeping track of your Pinterest followers is either very easy or practically impossible (at the time of this writing) depending on one simple question: do you own an iPhone / iPad?. If you do, Followers on Pinterest works much like the other applications and extensions in this round-up—it lets you know when someone on Pinterest drops you and checks for follow-backs.
One notable difference with Followers on Pinterest, however, is that it will let you know as people unfollow you, but it also keeps a list of anyone who has ever dropped you. (Presumably, Pinterest users can be slow to let go of a grudge.)
If you don’t have an iPhone (like me—I’m an Android user), then you are presently out of luck. There isn’t a tool at the moment for any platform other than Apple’s. Most likely, someone is already working to fill that gap, so keep an eye on the Android market and the extension/add-on libraries for Chrome and Firefox.
Last but not least is Instagram, the photo-sharing wonder kid of the digital world. Like Pinterest, Instagram users can follow other users and cultivate a list of their own followers. To see who isn’t following you back and to keep track of lost followers as they leave, all you have to do is employ the delightfully simple Unfollowgram.
Unfollowgram works from the website or from your mobile—unfortunately, like Followers on Pinterest, there is no Android version of the mobile app, so Google fanboys will be forced to use the website.
There you have it—tools for keeping track of your followers (and unfollowers) for the most popular social sites. Now that you know how to keep track of this stuff, a few words of advice.
There is, unquestionably, the value in cleaning up your follower's list from time to time, and if folks don’t follow you back, there is wisdom in not following them. The currency of social networking is that number, after all: how many followers/friends do you have? And you want the ratio of “followers” versus “following” to be healthy. (For example, on Twitter, it’s considered a positive sign if there are more people following you than people that you follow.)
That said, militantly tracking your followers and obsessively cleaning these lists can be a time suck. While each of the apps above is relatively quick to use, cumulatively it will take you a few minutes to chug through each service you have an account with. What’s more, people are going to drop you from time to time. That just happens. Use the above services to manage your connections periodically, but don’t invest too much emotion in the process, and there is no reason to check daily.
Use these tools well, and you should be able to manage your social connections like a pro.