It’s no secret that we love Twitter. It’s a fantastic social media tool, a window on the world that can keep you updated on the big things, such as global news and events, the little things, like where your buddies are headed on a Friday night, and just about anything in between.
However, once you’re following more than a dozen or so people, the service can get a little busy. In the spirit of our recent spring cleaning guides, which also offer advice on how to organize your Facebook account and sort out your iPhone, we’re bringing you some top tips to tidy up your Twitter stream.
So whether you want to cut the dead wood, give your Twitter account a spruce up for the spring, filter out unwanted noise, or just get a little bit more organized, read on for a quick guide, complete with free online resources to help. And do let us know any tips you have in the comments below.
Weed Out Inactive Users
Twitter has a low retention rate, so it’s highly likely that some folk you’ve selected to follow in the past are no longer active. You may want to unfollow inactive users to keep your following count down, or in case the account name gets re-released by Twitter and picked up by someone else in the future.
UnTweeps is one really simple free service that will help you identify inactive users you’re currently following. It will show you who hasn’t tweeted of late, and give you the option to unfollow them.
You can choose to see who’s not sent a tweet over certain time periods. 90 days seems a reasonable span to consider an account abandoned (although Twitter’s official guidelines give you 6 month’s grace). You can also view 60 or 30 day options if you plan to be more aggressive in cleaning your follow list.
Find Out Who is Following Whom
Twitter shouldn’t be about only following people who follow you — that would be highly impractical for more popular users of the service. However, sometimes it is useful to identify who reciprocates your follow action.
For example, you may have followed a user back out of courtesy, but their tweets are frankly annoying. If they have since unfollowed you, that may give you a decent reason to now unfollow them.
Alternatively, you may want to check it out from the other angle and make sure you haven’t overlooked someone who is following you that you really should be following back.
Twitter Karma offers a simple, free way of showing your Twitter contacts in a grid with a note beneath stating who is following whom. It can be used as an at-a-glance service, and you can make certain follow/unfollow actions from within the site. If you want to go in-depth, the contacts can be sorted in various ways.
Filter Out the Noise
Whether you want to mute everything one particular user says, or you’re fed up with Twitter chat about a certain topic, then it’s possible to take control of your stream by applying filters.
While Muuter offers a muting service that’s good for short-term periods (say a whole bunch of your contacts are at a conference and “#2010conf” tweets are driving you insane), Twalala offers more long-term options.
Using Twalala, you can mute people forever, for certain time periods (useful for managing vacation jealousy), as well as weed out tweets you don’t want to see on a keyword basis. This could be useful to stop plot spoilers for films and TV shows, or simply to never let Justin Bieber’s name intrude on your Twitter stream ever again.
Set Up Your Twitter Lists
If you want to keep on top of the different areas in your life — work, family, friends, interests — lists are the way to do it on Twitter. Creating Twitter lists is a simple job, best done sooner rather than later.
You can choose to create private lists that only you can see, public lists that anyone can view, or alternatively follow lists others have already set up.
Listorious (“the definitive list of who matters on Twitter”) is a good place to start if you’re looking to follow lists of heavy hitters, while here at Mashable we offer a Twitter list directory (the content from which also appears on Listorious) spanning a wide range of categories.
For anyone who hasn’t yet taken the list plunge, we can tell you they are incredibly useful, and break up the micro blogging service into much more manageable chunks of topical yumminess.
Refresh Your Twitter Profile
As well as tidying things up, a spring clean is also a good opportunity to freshen them up too. How long has it been since you updated your Twitter profile pic, made sure your bio is up to date, or changed your background?
Put a spring in your Twitter step by freshening up your profile with a new background design, a ton of which are available for free online. In addition to personalized paid-for options, MyTweetSpace offers some decent free backgrounds that are quick to choose and apply, as does similar service TweetStyle.
FreeTwitterDesigner boasts a nice range of pre-designed backgrounds, and also lets you make custom ones from your own photos.
Finally, TwitBacks is another such service you might want to check out. It has over 80 backgrounds to choose from, as well as options to customize with a focus on left-hand columns, and adding social networking links and promotional items.
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