Home > life, social media, Uncategorized > #Unfollowgate: How This Effects The Minneapolis/St. Paul Online Community

#Unfollowgate: How This Effects The Minneapolis/St. Paul Online Community

True story. There is Watergate, Monicagate and numerous other ‘gates’. There has been no ‘gate’ that has captivated my attention. There has been no ‘gate’, until today that I have been involved in, until #unfollowgate.

In the last couple months, I have noticed certain people who have been quick to comment on certain tweets I have sent out. Monitoring the situation, I evaluated what I was sending, was it useful, entertaining and/or relevant? I overanalyze most everything in my life, so adding this to my plate was not ideal. Regardless, I never want to offend anyone, and try my best to be conscious of what I say.

That did not help.

This morning, I had someone tweet the following:

I just unfollowed @jasondouglas Checking in at work on FourSquare violates my view of ICEE #NothingPersonal.

I was shown this by a co-worker, who was as stunned as me. Being unfollowed is not uncommon. Being called out and made an example of to the world over something as petty as checking in on Foursquare where I work however, is bothersome.

Before moving forward, for those who do not know what ICEE stands for, here are the definitions:

  • Inspire
  • Connect
  • Entertain
  • Educate

All of the above are great rules to abide by when tweeting. It would be nice to have your tweet achieve all of the above. It is more difficult to inspire, connect, entertain, and educate in 140 characters than the average person would assume.

What is gained by calling someone out for not following your interpretation of the above ‘rules’? Isn’t unfollowing someone the opposite of connecting?

One person tweeted this to the unfollower:

so then what tweets don’t Inspire Connect Entertain or Educate? I think that covers any kind of tweet thats been written.

Agreed. I find it difficult to not achieve one of the four ICEE guidelines in any tweet that myself and any other Twitter user has ever sent.

In my experience in the social media community, I have been met with open arms by almost everyone I have connected with online and in real life. I have built and am building some great relationships with people I would not have been connected to if not for social media.

When someone calls me out, uses my name, and accuses me of not being inspiring, not being a connector, not entertaining, and not educating — all the while telling me it is not personal — I strongly disagree with that. Online or off, when you use someone’s name and use accusatory language, no matter how subjective it is, you have made it a personal attack.

This is why I monitor the conversation around my name in most every online channel. I need to make sure that my name is not being smeared by anyone. This is something I highly recommend doing ASAP; check to see what comes up in search results on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others; see if there are any groups or fan pages created talking about you or people with the same name. Make sure you own your name. You are a brand.

Once the above tweet was sent out, I had 20 DMs in my inbox within the first five minutes asking if this was real. Unfortunately, it is.

When I attended the Minnesota Business/LaBreche Reputations event with guest Chris Brogan last month. Brogan made a statement about the Minneapolis and St. Paul online marketing community: We do not collaborate, we are too exclusive. It is a lot easier to fight a war with a large army. By not working together, the MSP area is not at the top of the online marketing communities where it belongs.

Behavior that I experienced today is exactly what Brogan was talking about. The MSP community does not benefit from someone trying to throw someone under the bus for self promotion. That is not how an individual becomes a true influencer. Any community that has people like that actively participating in the community is not a healthy community. If the MSP community wants to become a legitimate leading community, behavior like this must cease.

After numerous tweets from my army supporting me (thank you all :-))  the person tweeted the following:

“I won’t be publicizing my ICEE theory removes. Tweets should Inspire Connect Entertain Educate. Apparently is causing a stir.”

I wish he had thought of that before attempting to humiliate me.

I feel sad knowing our great community took a step back yesterday. I hope that our community learns from this and are able to take two steps forward.

This is not the first #Unfollowgate in the history of Twitter. I want to hear your #Unfollowgate story. How was it handled on both sides? Was there a reconciliation?


  1. March 17, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Those who are trying to achieve elitist success on twitter by climbing over and bludgeoning others will be the first to lose. Our community- those at SMBMSP, and our networking events understand the nuances of each other’s lives and the need to be HUMAN on twitter: Not robots trying to fill each piece of the ICEE puzzle.
    Tweets should be creative, influential and bring something to the table: But let’s not forget WHO we are, and our human element.

  2. Amy
    March 17, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    I am one of those annoyed by foursquare updates, but I think it’s funny that someone would call you out about it and do a dramatic unfollow.

    My unfollowgate story is different, but also strange. I followed someone back who had followed me, realized their tweets weren’t really my cup of tea and then got publicly called out for unfollowing this person. It was bizarre. It validated my decision to unfollow them and I then decided to block them. Who needs drama like that on twitter?

  3. Amy
    March 17, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    I saw someone tweet that they’ll unfollow anyone who DMs them spam. I responded and said, well, but what if their account was hacked, and it’s not their fault? I’ve seen quite a few of those from people I know well enough to know they don’t normally communicate that way, and my response is to DM them back and let them know something’s up with their account. But this guy? Nope. Spam him via DM, no matter who you are, and you’re off his list. I thought that was a bit over the top.

  4. March 17, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    I wouldn’t worry about this guy, Jason, because he clearly makes himself look like an idiot. Anytime you check in with foursquare, you are attempting to connect in person with people who might also be there. Why miss out on an opportunity like that because you’re afraid to offend the majority of your network who aren’t there? People who truly understand social media know that, and take each tweet with a grain of salt. Is everything that every person I follow says relevant to me? Of course not. Just like everything I say isn’t relevant to everyone who follows me. But it’s the connecting over things that are relevant, forming relationships, taking those offline and using them to inspire myself personally and professionally that gives social media its value.

    Now, if you update twitter entirely with your foursquare check-ins (like someone I saw yesterday), then I could see maybe unfollowing that person. But that’s not how you use twitter, so that guy clearly needs to get a grip!

  5. March 17, 2010 at 11:11 AM


    This is an interesting post, I understand unfollowing someone due to something you disagree with, however there is no reason to publicly talk about it. I had someone DM me a reason why they unfollowed @tcthurhappyhour at one point, which I was fine with, as they did not publicize it to the rest of the people that engage with me. This did however prompt me to think about the tweets I was sending from that account and pushed my hand towards creating a @jeffnols account on Twitter.

    This particular follower did not like me updating @tcthurhappyhour with my thoughts on sports, business and life, which initiall helped to make the TCTHH brand personal and engaging. I did agree to some extent that there were probably many people following that account that only wanted updates about happy hour events and networking functions.

    I was happy with the way that she handled it and it did get me thinking, but as Kate-Madonna stated above, let’s not be robots. The point of social media is to be exactly what the title says, be social. Let’s not be exclusive in these communities, we can all learn from each other and having an open community is conducive to advancing the purpose of collaboration, connecting and learning.

  6. March 17, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    I find it the sociology of social networks endlessly amusing, particularly the people who feel compelled to declare publicly how much more righteous they are than you in their social media practices.

    Insecure much?

    To each his own. If you don’t like it, don’t follow but calling someone out publicly simply to satisfy your own sense of propriety (and self-promotion, as you so correctly point out) goes against MY social media etiquette.

    It’s petty and ridiculous.

    • March 17, 2010 at 12:33 PM

      Kate, Amy, Amy, Lindsay, Jeff, and David: thank you all for your comments and support.

      I would be lying if I said that I was not expecting the amount of reaction on here, on Twitter, and texts/DM’s; I was. When I was at the Reputations event, I heard Chris Brogan share his thoughts on our community, but I did not understand them. Now, his comments are crystal clear in my mind.

      I wouldn’t be disappointed if it wasn’t someone I knew well and have learned a lot from. Also, I was the only one he called out, which made it appear to be even more personal. I have nothing against him as a person; I know he means well.

      One of the beautiful features about social media: it is an opt in/opt out community. You can follow and unfollow as you please, usually without repercussions. He did that. And I do that on a daily basis; everyone does that.

      We will see if anything more comes of this. It’s an interesting topic that a lot of people are interested in talking about. I’m glad that people now have this on their radar. I want to see the MSP area live up to its potential. Hopefully, this starts the conversation about how to get to be the top online marketing community and we make steps towards that goal.

      I hope

  7. March 17, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Unfollowing tweeps can be a good thing. Keeps things clean, eliminates those who haven’t tweeted in a few months, or maybe someone you resonate with on a blog, for example, doesn’t carry over well into Twitter. It happens. After a quick trip to http://friendorfollow.com/ I was surprised that a few people had quietly dropped me. I get it it. Maybe we connected over a specific topic, like an event, and after that we just didn’t have much in common. That last point is actually where I find the most value with Twitter. Not so much connecting with people like me, but connecting with those not like me (sometimes I feel the clique mentality hovering on Twitter, which bothers me).

    I find it self-righteous of the person to put you on blast, and in essence announcing to the twittersphere that they are somehow the standard bearer for tweets done right. I think it’s fine he/she has a strategy around who they follow, but I also think you miss out by putting such rigid guidelines around something so dynamic as Twitter (in terms of what you choose to read/follow and in what you post).

  8. March 17, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Valuable read. Thank you for sharing Jason. Key words: “Violates my view of…” Clearly they were having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I’ve been guilty of over-reacting myself in similar situations – ie when someone doesn’t see me in traffic, when I have to hold to get customer service (which I’m doing as I type this), or when I order half-priced apps at Applebee’s at 9:12pm only to find out later that their clock said 8:56pm. Solution? synchronize my watch with Applebee’s. Problem with that solution? You can synchronize your perception of ICEE with every person in your peer network. Solution? Dumb down the personaility in your tweets so that nobody can take offense. Problem with that solution? I’ll probably stop reading your tweets, lol. It’s time to live dangerously Jason. All of life is conflict: the battle of the bulge, the war on drugs, the war on terror, the way your imune system counters an infection, yin & yang, your evil twin, light vs. darkness, Vikins vs. the Packers, Boston vs. the Lakers, consumer vs. the marketers, Jim vs. Dwight, Phyllis vs. Angela, Michael vs. Toby, Angela vs. Kevin, Angela vs. Michael, Angela vs. Pam, Angela vs… wait I’m starting to see a theme with Angela. Maybe this person was just an Angela?

  9. March 17, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    whoops, make that “you CAN’T synchronize your perception of ICEE with every person in your peer network”.

  10. Nick Maus
    March 17, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    The internet is serious business.

    This is the disclaimer that should be written at the bottom of any social networking site’s terms of use. I don’t Twitter, but I do spend a fair amount of time posting on a forum board where I have gotten to know quite a few people and communicate with daily (whether on Facebook or on the forum board itself). When it comes to a community setting, whether online or in person, no one should consider themselves greater than the grouping as a whole. Once a person reaches that level of self-importance, everyone loses.

    – Maus

  11. March 17, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Personally, I think FourSquare check-in tweets are annoying and I now ignore them anytime I see them come in. You must also take into account that I’m not a FourSquare user. I don’t see a need to ‘connect’ with someone everywhere I go. Sure, say it’s the weekend or you genuinely have something going on — i.e. I tweet that I’m at the Fine Line for a show, the band is cool, hit me up if you’re downtown, or come out to the show…I’m putting myself out there to connect. If I stop by Holiday gas station on my way home from work or Target to grab some food, does anyone really care if I check-in? Sure maybe one person might find that info worthwhile but the other 1000 followers probably ignore it. With that said, you should use Twitter how you want to. I hate it when people try and lecture me on how I should be using twitter.

  12. Dez
    March 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    I was updating twitter with every Foursquare update since I started the service. However a good friend of mine asked me why. I didn’t have an answer except for the hopefulness of getting the Overshare badge. When it was pointed out to me that I could still get the badge by sharing with my Foursquare friends. It was suggested that maybe instead of sharing everything only share bigger visits (like tweetups, smaller social gatherings, big news stuff, etc).

    I’ve kept to that policy for myself, but that’s just for me. I don’t think I’d follow someone who ONLY updated their account with foursquare checkins, but that’s just me. However I would never call them out (or most likely even mention it to them).

    Thanks for the post, Jason.

  13. David
    March 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    There is another side of the coin. In a smallish circle like the TC unfollowing can have negative results. You have to remember, it is called *social* media for a reason and to unfollow someone can and often should be taken personally; which can carry over into life outside the tubes.

    I am often annoyed by things people tweet, but I don’t unfollow or even engage in arguement on twitter. On the other hand, when someone who just tweeted 80 times about the bachelor unfollows me for a sports tweet I just might call them on it. For my social media connections are real and not some aspect of work, like it is for many people commenting on this blog post.

  14. March 17, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    This is somthing that has really been pissing me off for some time now.

    (I am going to start with this specific instance, and pan out)

    I have been on foursquare since about day one. I have sent most of my checkins to twitter. Why?
    1) I see it as a mini-review: If I send it to Twitter, people see that I am there, and I approve of the place.
    2) Updates-if someone see me check-in at work, they know that I will have a good chance at picking up my phone.
    3) Community. I wrote a bit of code to display who is at a location at a given time. You can see it on the CoCoMSP website (disclaimer: I am their co-community manager). It only works if you send the check-in to twitter, though.

    My stance has always been that people who act like your unfollower are not even worth my time-if you go into social media with super strict rules and guidelines, you are setting yourself up to #fail.

    As a whole, we are knee-capping ourselves, MSP. We really need to learn how to move social past the back-patting and the love-festing, and really turn into a community. This means not having little exclusive cliques, not only promoting ourselves and our friends, and not thinking that we are the best. Guess what? Social media is not crazy hard. Sure, it can be, but as a whole, none of use have a “gift” like Joe Mauer has for crushing fastballs.

    Please, take some time and think about this. Check your ego for a bit, and really look at why you are in social, what your skills are, and HOW YOU CAN HELP THE COMMUNITY! Be critical. Learn from others. Help out when you can. Ask the tough questions. Community is NOT about everything being shiny and happy, 100% of the time. It is about having a vibrant, active, innovating group of people working together. When was the last time that something truly innovative happened in the MSP, with regards to social??

    Its time for social media, as a whole, to grow up a bit and mature.

  15. March 17, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    Jas – Thanks for writing about this. Great to see all the comments:-) I’ve noticed a high volume of this type of behavior as of late. I’m not opposed to colorful conversations and thoughtful sharing, but I’ve been a little bummed by the, “I hate that you follow a person I don’t like, I won’t follow you anymore” statements. Or, “the you DM spammed me” (even though your account was hacked and you probably don’t know yet), or the “you check in on FourSquare and forward to Twitter, so I’m unfollowing.” I get that people get frustrated with the noise. I do too, sometimes. Anyone who’s sent me a ridiculous volume of Farmville or Mob Wars invites or updates that stuff all of the time… I simply hide those updates or their feed from my profile. I’m sure people who find what I talk about irrelevant do the same. They politely unfollow me without saying it, as I do them. No different really than just not talking to me at an IRL event, even though we’re both there. It’s no big deal, we just don’t cross paths so to speak. We just don’t have anything in common… either from the beginning or anymore. It’s all good. The difference is, I don’t say, “You know, I don’t find you interesting. In fact you bore me because I don’t come out of a conversation with you having ICEE met.” For real. That’s what this is. It’s a manners thing. It’s a social awareness thing. I’m with David Erickson. He summed it up so eloquently above — I can’t really say it better. The ego, pride and general disregard of people who feel the need to go down this road bum me out. At the end of the day, just makes me wonder. I’d love to find within these comments the perspective of ‘that guy/gal.’ I want to be educated. Thanks Jason.

  16. March 17, 2010 at 11:40 PM

    Respect your opinion, Jason. You know I do. But you know what? You gotta let this stuff slide. If this person wants to unfollow you because of this “ICEE” theory, so be it. That’s his/her decision. I’d just continue to focus on what you do best. Don’t try to please everyone–you never will. I know that’s not what you’re trying to do here, but I just wanted to provide that piece of advice.

    I think the biggest issue here is the uber-competitive nature of our interactive/digital community. Especially on the agency side. I know it’s a competitive business and we’re in this to make money (believe me, as someone who works for himself now, I know), but I also feel like there’s a fine line. And, I’m not willing to cross it for a few thousand dollars each year. Just my take. I know others have different opinions. I’d like to see that attitude shift big time in the months and years ahead. Just doesn’t do any of us any good.


  17. March 18, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    Mission accomplished. I’m the person who did the public unfollow. I did it as a social experiment. Did it go further then I thought it would? Maybe, maybe not. I knew if I did it to Jason he would react and Tweet and Blog about it. The back story, which isn’t told in the post, is that I’ve been having a healthy thought-provoking debate regarding the work check-in on Foursquare with Jason and a few others for a couple months, so this was not just an out of the blue Tweet. I wanted to stir up some conversation and do as Jason has stated, build and strengthen the MSP social community. At my expense…maybe..I see RTs, backslaps and kudos all day on Twitter. Where is the controversy and heated discussions that actually make us think? When a debate or controversy rarely happens it gets people to think and have to step up and give an opinion. Most people are afraid to disagree in our MSP community, and if they do they keep it to themselves. Maybe it’s a MN nice thing. And it worked. We were treated with a great blog post by Jason with some critical thinking along with some strong Twitter debates and people rallying for and against the subject and it also brought people to express their opinions.

    If you want to check-in at work, applebees, McDonalds, etc..that’s your prerogative. It doesn’t mean that people will find it useful or want to follow you because of it, but that’s the beauty of Twitter and social media, you have the option of “opting” out of the conversation.

    Just so everyone knows…I’ve worked with Jason in the past and I consider him a friend, so on my end there is no ill-will. I hope this experiment didn’t go to far, if it did then I’m sorry, but knowing Jason I knew he could handle it and I’m proud of how he did and I’m happy with the results of the experiment. It spurred some lively debate and built community.


  18. Amanda Oleson
    March 18, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    Jason- You know I agree with Arik, there are definitely things you need to let go. However, this is not one of those things. This has ME up in arms. Online and in life, I rarely find it acceptable to preach a “holier than thou” mantra, ESPECIALLY when actions don’t fall in line with it. It’s not fair to call something a “social experiment” that was meant to “build and strengthen the MSP community,” when taking a blatant path of exclusivity. Building our community here in Minneapolis/St. Paul requires collaboration and innovation- not calling someone out and unfollowing because he’s excited about being at his office. Improving the quality of shared content and encouraging people to contribute valuable ideas/thoughts doesn’t come from harassing someone about their foursquare check-ins. Really improving and strengthening our community comes from getting together and collaborating instead of competing.

  19. March 18, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    nothin personal.. but WOW you folks take this so seriously.

    Chillax a bit. Twitter is not your life, either is facebook. If you really want to grow/empower your community may I suggest some social networking 1.0 and do some old fashion hand shaking and face to face discussion and collaboration.

    Twitter is a communication tool, and a poor one at that.
    Sorry to jump in here and rag on you, seems all much ado about nothing to me.

  20. March 18, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    I’m on of those ones who are VERY annoyed with foursquare and “I just became the mayor of” tweets. It reminds me of all those stupid games that my friends on facebook use to clutter up my timeline and hide all the meaningful updates. I mean, so what if you’re at walmart? How does that add any real conversation or interaction to Twitter?

    Then again it’s your account and yours to do with. I’m sure some people think the same thing when my Goodreads pushes updates to my tweets. That being said I think it’s douchy and unprofessional to publicly announce you unfollowed someone bc they annoyed you. The Internet is full of dumb bullies who have no life other than to sit around the computer harassing people all day. So don’t let them bother you!

  21. March 18, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    Really you guys? Isn’t this making a huge issue out of something that really doesn’t matter?

    I would have unfollowed you for checking in at work, too. It’s annoying and unproductive. If I felt like it, I’d say why. While I personally think that telling anyone about who I’m unfollowing is a passive-aggressive waste of everyone’s time, reacting to it is equally worthless.

    You seem to take this stuff way too seriously.

  22. Trish
    March 18, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    “I did it as a social experiment. Did it go further then I thought it would? Maybe, maybe not. I knew if I did it to Jason he would react and Tweet and Blog about it.”

    So what was the point of this “experiment”? To see how people would react? To find out if people would overcome their natural “niceness” and get up in arms?

    Gee, am I the only one who feels manipulated? I’m glad to say I only just stumbled upon this post, so I didn’t get entangled in the “drama”, if there was any. But in the future, I think that *actual* connectedness might be found more in opening up dialogues about these issues, rather than setting up some kind of bizarre “experiment”. Careful, Jared – these types of screwing-around-with-people-in-the-name-of-science tend to get people pretty damn pissed. Most people don’t appreciate attempts to manipulate others with these sorts of fake-outs.

    Jared’s comments above, along with his comment that “knowing Jason I knew he could handle it and I’m proud of how he did” strikes me as incredibly condescending as well. So much for connecting and educating, eh Jared?

  23. March 18, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    As a new blogger and twitterer I have had the good fortune of becoming involved in sites like Third Tribe. It feels great to realize the caliber of people interacting in this amazing social network.

    While I am new and don’t know a lot, I endeavor to follow certain respectful guidelines, while having fun. As in other areas of life, rudeness does not make for a happy good hair day for all involved.

    I love what ICEE stands for and will remember it as I tweet.

    Will also enjoy tuning in to you in the future.

    Thanks for a great reminder!

    Warm regards,

  24. March 18, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    If nothing else, we all have certainly learned the power of a single person’s statement. I can see both sides of the issue here. As others said, if he wants to unfollow you, that’s his business. Was it wrong to call you out? Perhaps it was. Like you said, what you tweet becomes your brand. If people do not like your brand, then somebody is bound to speak out. Would I like to be called out? Certainly not, so I can understand you being upset, but unfortunately it could happen and I’ll just have to deal with it.

    I find it ironic your post violated his view of “ICEE”, but in turn lead to this thought-provoking discussion and educational lesson for myself and everybody else. I know I will certainly be even more careful and respectful of my online actions. Hopefully others follow suit.

  25. March 19, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    ICEE? Seriously? I agree almost no tweets can ever actually inspire or educate that much. Half the time it seems to be a bunch of people jabbering a bunch of supposed “expertise” at one another, and the “social media experts” are more guilty of it than the amateurs. As for checking in at work at Foursquare, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it unless it’s a consumer business where you’re robbing paying customers of the ability to take pride in their patronage. That being said, if people pollute their feed with stupid Formspring posts, I immediately unfollow them.

  26. Desarae
    March 20, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    Great post. Very well laid out. I don’t think our community is bad off just full of growing pains. We open to new people better than most communities with noobs, and help one another, but our project collaboration (like brogan said) does fall short of what Boston or California has. On the other hand our events, co working facilities like cocomsp, and connections are 100 steps ahead.

  27. May 1, 2010 at 10:49 PM

    I tend to agree with tdhurst. Who really cares? Not worth your time or effort to worry and if someone finds it necessary to publicly call someone out, then just let it go and move on. I understand that this seems to be more personal for you and I don’t think it was necessary to approach it in this manner but if I were you, I would count my friends against my naysayers and then just let it go. It is a social network after all and as in all social settings we are all going to run into this at one time or another. Sounds like he may have had his knickers in a twist that day. Forgive and forget. You’ll be better for it.

  1. March 18, 2010 at 10:51 AM
  2. March 22, 2010 at 8:31 AM
  3. December 29, 2010 at 5:25 PM

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