The first thing I found when I unfollowed everyone is that the same people who use the "follow me and I'll follow you back" strategy seem to be the same people who use those services that monitor who unfollowed them and then blast it out to all of Twitter--as if the public shame is supposed to make me want to re-connect with them or something.
Frankly, a tweet that says "@thetonybradley and five other Twitter accounts unfollowed me today" says more about the one being unfollowed than it does about the ones doing the unfollowing. Perhaps those people should spend more time giving people a reason to want to follow them, and less time trying to embarrass them publicly.
Since I did my scorched Earth unfollowing, my Twitter following has been steadily declining. From its high somewhere north of 19,000, it has now dwindled to somewhere less than 16,800. It continues to drop with each passing day, albeit slowly.
The Right Way to Do Twitter
Building a Twitter following--a real Twitter following--is like building relationships in real life. The strategy I employed was akin to buying friends. You can get a lot of people to show up and be your buddy if you're giving away free ice cream, but how many of those people will be there to bail you out of county jail at 3am on a Saturday night after a bar fight?
The lesson in all of this is to be genuine. When you're insincere, you attract insincerity. My new goal is to simply be me, provide as much value as I can, and to be comfortable with whatever Twitter following that attracts--whether it's 100,000 or 1,000...or 10.
I don't know where the bottom is on the fall of my Twitter following. Wherever it is, though, the Twitter followers who remain will be quality Twitter followers that matter--Twitter followers who are actually interested in hearing what I have to say, sharing my thoughts with others, and engaging in debate and discussion.
I won't ever have the following of an Ashton Kutcher. I may not ever have the following of a Robert Scoble. But, whatever following I do have on Twitter will be relationships I have earned--speaking of which, feel free to follow me @thetonybradley.