This post is inspired by this awesome article from Daniel Newman.

There’s been a bit of conversation in recent months about mass unfollows on Twitter. These have been carried out by folks with large followings, with the biggest complaints being the numbers were unmanageable; spam was an issue; etc.

Some onlookers have questioned how genuine these unfollows were; and if it wasn’t just an attention-seeking ploy. Discussions have being started, with folks from both sides of the unfollow coin sharing their reasons for support / disdain. Theories arose; and more questions were asked as opposed to answered.

Until now.

In this leaked email between two social media gurus, their reasoning can finally be shared as to what The Big Twitter Unfollow Purge of 2011 (as it has become known) was all about. The reasons might surprise you. Then again, probably not…

Anyhoo – here’s the email. Names have been changed for no reason other than it seems the fashionable thing to do when sharing a leaked email.

Project Unfollow Email

Social Media Guru A: “Okay, people aren’t talking about us as much any more – we’ve been found out for lack of real business acumen, and our blogs are empty shells of what they used to be. It sucks.”

Social Media Guru B: “I know. Remember when everyone was talking about us, thinking we were awesome? But now they see through us and think we’re less than average. If only we could get people talking about us again, so we feel as important as our egos tell us we should be.”

Social Media Guru A: “I know – let’s completely ignore all the advice we doled out while building our false reputations, and UnFollow everyone on Twitter, and blame it on spam. They don’t do anything for us, anyway – they don’t buy our affiliate programs any more. Who needs them?”

Social Media Guru B: “Great idea! We’ll make big announcements, make it sound like we’re the wronged party and everyone should feel sorry for us, even though there are a host of ways we can manage and filter all the stuff we’ll blame for the UnFollow.”

Social Media Guru A: “And to keep it buzzing along, we’ll do it at spaces apart from each other, and then promote each other’s words of angst.”

Social Media Guru B: “Love it! But won’t people see through it as nothing but an ego stroke and a desperate last throw of the dice to seem relevant?”

Social Media Guru A: “Not at all. I’ll make up some webinar and charge for it, describe it as something it isn’t, and the heat generated around that decision will make our UnFollows seem genuine. Then people will actually believe we cared about the feelings of those we strung along all these years, with our advice of reciprocal follows.”

Social Media Guru B: “Genius. Absolutely genius.”

Social Media Guru A: “Yeah, some suckers will trust anything we tell them, hehe. Okay – let’s start stroking those egos!”

End of email

Of course, the mass unfollows of 2011 are nothing new – this “experiment/event” already happened two years earlier. with unfollows in 2009. So maybe not such a new trend after all.

Ah well, there’s always the Great Facebook Desertion Exercise. Oh – wait a minute…

image: Neil Crosby