Is Chris Brogan Wrong?

Recently, Chris Brogan – a respected industry colleague and someone we’ve worked with on occasion, wrote “50 Power Twitter Tips,” a nice little post that’s been viewed about 10,000 times or so. It was also put into video form by one of his fans, as you can see here:

One of those 50 tips seems pretty straightforward: “Follow anyone who follows you (and unfollow spammers/jerks).” Now, I realize that this may not be everyone’s style on Twitter but with nearly 150,000 of his own followers (on just one of his accounts), I tend to think Chris’ advice is probably pretty solid if you’re looking to build influence. But lately I’ve noticed a lot of folks doing the opposite – or, more specifically, I’ve noticed a lot of long-time Twitter friends who have reached large follower numbers suddenly unfollowing massive amounts of their followers. It seems to be a trend – they reach 18,000, 20,000 followers and suddenly they trim their following list to 500, 200 or less. What’s with the new trend?

I asked a few folks and some feedback has been genuine “I’ve decided to only follow people I’ve met personally or who add value to my life,” and some has been esoteric, like “Just cleaning up.” Personally, I think it comes across as a bit narcissistic (of course, lately I’m feeling this way about a lot of social media) and disingenuous. It seems like these folks are building up to large numbers and then unfollowing to make themselves seem more interesting, popular or influential. It seems like they’re banking on the fact that most Twitter users don’t spend a lot of time managing their network and therefore won’t realize they’re no longer mutually connected.

Anyone else notice this trend? Any insights into why folks are doing this? Is social media becoming a burden and therefore people are changing their strategies? Personally, I’ve decided I like Chris’ advice. The reason I like it is that yes, following a large group of people could be cumbersome – if you didn’t know how to use tools to manage your lists and find what you want when you want it. But I use technology like Nutshell from Constant Contact (a client), TweetDeck, Tweepl and many more awesome tools to do just that. So I can always find what I need and track key words, trends, followers and more in a timely fashion. But I like to follow most of those who connect with me because in doing so, I sometimes find nuggets of information that I wouldn’t have been looking for – the more people I follow, the more interesting information comes my way. So for me, I’ll keep following my new followers … unless of course, they’re “spammers or jerks.”

What about you? What’s your Twitter following strategy?