This morning I was following more than 900 people, and even with Tweetdeck, I decided that it was just information overload. I had to narrow my scope and damn the gushing stream of information, only allowing relevant (to my newly intended purpose) tweets to trickle through.

A few posts back, I wrote about how I converse on Twitter. Even since that posting, I’ve changed how I use it.

Why the change? I’m simply missing information I believe I NEED to receive. I may WANT to follow everyone who follows me back, or follow a ton of brands to dig up information on new products; but the fact of the matter is, I don’t NEED all of the information I’ve been getting.

So, how does this happen? How does someone get overwhelmed by Twitter? My answer would be that it happens differently for different users, depending on what they’re using Twitter for.

Personally, I’ve now resolved to use Twitter for three things:

1. To keep tabs on friends and co-workers, discussing like interests and projects with them
2. To monitor the automotive industry, automotive enthusiasts and brands I have a particular interest in
3. To monitor trends in social media and content marketing

Somewhere along the line I got clumsy, and greedy. I followed far too many people and invested follows in folks who didn’t contribute anything that I could offer a point of view on. And I was getting so much data, that I’d consistently miss conversations I should have been a part of. I believe I was getting too focused on improving my Twitter Grade, and forgot about what I began using Twitter for in the first place – to take part in conversations about the things I’m interested in.

The real goal is to keep information relevant and interesting to those that are following me. Sure, the three different audiences may get tired of the odd combination of tweets I provide, but that’s the beauty of social networking. We get exposed to some things we otherwise may not have ever known about. Because of this, I’ve hung onto people who share my other interests, which include racing, outdoor activities, hockey and green living. I didn’t want to give up those occasional things that broadened my horizons on these topics.

I’ve managed to pare my follow list to 729, and vow not to breach 750 (still a sizable list!). In that process, I did end up removing people who were still following me. This was a difficult thing for me to do, but when it comes right down to it, I caught myself following people and brands I had absolutely no interest in. Not to mention, my Twitter use is not singularly focused on one client, product or the agency I work for. If I were tweeting with a singular focus I’d probably follow everyone back, attempting to engage those folks in conversation about the brand they followed in the first place.

I like that I’m leaner, and if I unfollowed you or don’t follow you back, I hope you don’t take offense. I’m simply trying to make Twitter’s valuable information stream work for and with me. Open to thoughts and comments. Fire away!

Photo: Michelle Kwajafa