Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who cares about Qwitter?

I like to try new tools that augment the Twitter experience. Some have proven to be fantastic like Summize which Twitter eventually bought. For the past 6 weeks, I have subscribed to Qwitter. Qwitter is a tool that tracks when someone unfollows you on Twitter, and then sends you a notification along with the last tweet you sent before the unfollow. It is intended to let you know if you have posted some insensitive tweets and who has unfollowed. During my Qwitter tenure, 87 people have unfollowed me. You may think that is a large number, but more than 3 times as many people have followed me during the same time frame. Honestly, I see the Twitter community as a Learn, Try, Buy phenomenon. I may Learn about another user from seeing a friend respond to him/her. Subscribing is the trial phase and then sustained following is the Buy.

There may be many reasons why I unfollow someone. Perhaps I don’t find the person interesting, perhaps they are a little too focused on their own stuff, too chatty, perhaps they don’t follow me back, or perhaps I am just pruning my list.

Much has been written about Qwitter and unfollowing. Earlier this month Ken Burbary wrote a great post about the Sting of an Unfollow. Ken broke down motivations for unfollowing and the relative unimportance of being unfollowed. Aaron Strout recently blogged about Unfollows and Qwitter in which he shared his thoughts in an utter. Aaron talked about his motivations for unfollowing, understanding that you may not be someone’s cup of tea and the importance of following someone back. I agree with Aaron in that if you don’t follow me, I seldom feel the need to follow you. And most recently, Amber Naslund wrote a great post, The Fallacy of Qwitter. Amber rails on the obsession with knowing when someone leaves. She compares Twitter to Podcamp’s Law of Two Feet – “If you’re not finding value in what’s happening around you, get up, walk out. It’s nothing personal, it’s about creating a quality-saturated personal experience”. And as she says, “It’s impossible to please everyone. so don’t worry about it”.

Similar to everyone above, I try to not to take an unfollow too seriously. I do have a couple of interesting stories though. When I first joined Qwitter, I sent a Spam complaint out about one of the notorious spammers. A follower sent me a direct message that I should use the direct message approach because seeing my Spam alert was somewhat spammy. I didn’t give it much consideration until I got 6 qwitters after my note. Now I send @Spam a direct message. This may be the only benefit of using Qwitter that I have experienced. By the way, I find it ironic to get more Qwitters over a spam notification than a Sunday of cheering for the Jets—Go figure!

Then I got a Qwitter challenge (my only one) from Jeremy Epstein after I unfollowed him. it was delivered in an interesting manner, a Facebook friend request. At first, I was shocked to be challenged as to why I unfollowed him. For the record, it was because he never followed me back. Then I thought if the guy cares enough to ask and send me a FB friend request, I might as well follow him back. And so I did, and I even sent him to Ken’s post which you see below. An interesting aspect of this is Jeremy never followed me back. You can read Jeremy's post here.


I think Lawrence Liu said it best, I think some people take this way too seriously.

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Danny Brown said...

I agree, Qwitter is probably one of the least useful Twitter tools around. It also has a serious problem with accuracy - every single one of my Qwitter messages is allegedly because of the same post I made about 3 months ago ;-)

There is one use that Qwitter has, and that's to see who the "false followers" are - you know, the ones who follow you just to build their numbers and then immediately unfollow.

But apart from that - nice idea, poorly executed. :)

Mukund Mohan said...

The thing is I follow and unfollow people frequently depending on who I want to hear more for a week. Even very good friends. if someone's on a soapbox for a week or has something going on, so they tweet too frequently. Dont get why so many people care about Qwitter.

If someone walks away from you during in a party when you are talking to a few folks to talk to someone else do you get all upset?

Warren said...

@Danny That must have been some post 3 months ago! Seriously, I agree that the utility of Qwitter is very questionable.

@mukund Good strategy on managing the noise level. I like the party analogy. Perhaps our Qwitter obsession is tied to our obsession with number of followers and Twittergrades.

Lacy Kemp said...

I think Qwitter is just petty. I'm sure people unfollow me for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they don't like my company. Maybe they don't get my sense of humor, or maybe they are a Cowboys fan. I'm not taking it personal. Can you imagine how sad we all would be if we took everything as personal as Qwitter? It just seems like a waste of emotion to me.

GeekMommy said...

interesting addition to the Qwitter discussion - I'm still trying to think what I think about his whole thing :)

Warren said...

@realtweeter I agree, it's really not worth the emotional investment. And to your point about the Cowboys, all my many Patriots fan friends continue to follow me, even after my Jets tweets.

@Geekmommy Don't think too hard about it or take it too seriously. Not worth it.

Aaron Strout said...

Warren - a nice post on a hot topic. I've received a lot of feedback on my Utter/mini-post (mostly positive) about my approach which has become one of "don't take it personally). Like you, I also have found Qwitter to be useful in tipping me off when my signal to noise ratio dips too far into the "noise" direction.

Either way, the "shout out" is much appreciated. Keep on bringing the great posts about Twitter and how folks can tap into it for business AND personal benefit.

Aaron | @astrout

Kathleen Couch said...

Like others have said in the comments, Qwitter's accuracy is non-existent as far as the post that was posted just before the person quit. I have only had Qwitter for about a month. Supposedly all 5 of my qwitters, that quit weeks apart are because I told someone as a compliment, "What a good Daddy".

I think it's time to quit Qwitter.

The only person, I cared about quitting me was a person that I had donated to his cause, conversed with, and Retweeted his messages. He lives local to me, and even though I wasn't going to join his new start church, I was eager to see it go well for him. Well, one day I tried to send a direct message, and it wouldn't go through. So I left a comment on his blog, and asked why he unfollowed me. He did respond back and asked me what my Twitter name was, as if he was going to follow me again. He didn't, until it was time for his next fundraising campaign. As suspicious as that seemed, I followed through on donating, RETWEETING, and general conversation to what he was saying. Although I don't expect a response to everything, I feel like an occasional, thank you, or answer to my question is in order. I will be quitting him now. My point is that I didn't have Qwitter when he quit me, but I knew he quit me. If someone you think is of value in relationship building, or social cause building, or whatever, you will find out without looking at any statistics. So what does Qwitter matter?
Oh, BTW my name on Twitter is kathcouch. Follow me!

Warren said...

@astrout Thanks for the nice comments. Qwitter is definitely something not to get worked up about. By the way, since this post I have received 7 Qwitters, but none is in reference to the post.

@kathcouch There is definitely a mismatch between the last tweet and a Qwitter's motivation. You make a great point about learning about your community so you can know if someone quits independent of qwitter.

Anonymous said...

Warren, another good one of the flurry of posts and discussion on this topic lately. And I think all this activity has done 2 things to help make this less of an hot button issue.

1) Raise awareness that Qwitter-like tools are not very accurate and have a weak correlation between unfollowing and the reason for doing so.

2) Help make people understand that it's ok to follow/unfollow at will. You try someone out for awhile and either find relevant value in them/their content, or learn they are not a fit for your niche and you move on. This approach should be the expected norm, not the exception. If this was the mindset coming into an interaction with someone on Twitter, there wouldn't be any drama over unfollows. It's all about tuning & optimizing your network to best meet your and their needs, no?

bloggingmom67 said...

I agree that Qwitter isn't really useful (Didn't know it wasn't accurate -- that's good to know.)

But I still like it. If someone qwits me, I don't take it personally. I really don't care, actually. My follow list is constantly changing.

But it does give me a sense that maybe I have no need to follow that person who qwit me. (Not as revenge mind you -- well maybe a bit -- but why should I converse with someone who doesn't want to converse with me.) Back to the party analogy, that seems like talking to someone's back at a party.

So I like Qwitter because it helps me prune my list of people I follow.

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