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“Panamax” refers to the size limits of ships that can pass through the Panama Canal. Any ship that exceeds the length, width and draft limitations “shall not pass.”

I recently experienced Twitamax


Twitamax is when you follow more than 2,000 Tweeters. When you hit the 2,000 mark, Twitter imposes rules on how many additional Tweeters you can follow.

Twitter’s technical follow limits:

  1. Every account can follow 2,000 users total. Once you’ve followed 2,000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow. This number is different for each account and is based on your ratio of followers to following; this ratio is not published. Follow limits cannot be lifted by Twitter and everyone is subject to limits, even high-profile and API accounts.
  2. Every Twitter account is technically unable to follow more than 1,000 users per day, in addition to the account-based limits above. Please note that this is just a technical limit to prevent egregious abuse from spam accounts.
  3. Accounts are also prohibited from aggressively following other users.

Twitter has an allowable ratio of followers to following, but does not make this ratio public. The number of follows an account can have is different for each account.

Twitamax does not affect the number of followers that you can have. I’ve seen businesses and celebrities with tens of thousands of followers. Knowing there is a limit to how many accounts even these Twitterers can follow makes me feel better.

When I followed a person or business, I always hoped they’d follow me back. Now I know why most businesses do not do this: they can’t.

Staying within Twitamax

When I hit Twitamax I had to find a solution; I came up with two.

Following with lists

You can create a list and add Tweeters to it. I started doing this a while ago just to keep organized. Everyone you follow can be added to a list.

You can name the lists what ever you want and use them to organize who you follow any way that you wish. Focusing on a list allows you to be more efficient keeping up with Twitter.

Tweeters who are only on your lists do not count towards your Twitamax. But, you do not receive tweets from them.

When I hit Twitamax this turned out to be a great way to keep track of Tweeters I could not follow.

Culling the list

The only way around Twitamax was to cull my list. I only follow someone if they have something interesting to say or a business or product I like.

Ryan Hall, running
Photo: Ryan Hall

Most businesses and celebrities do not follow me back. I follow Ryan Hall, he doesn’t follow me. I get it, he’s probably hit his follow limit also.

I follow a lot of events and marathons. They can’t follow everyone that follows them either, they run into the same problem that Ryan and I do. So I won’t get upset if the Boston Marathon or London Marathon don’t follow me back. I get it.

The un-following

When I had a blog I used to follow hundreds of bloggers in the reader. It was easy and if someone had a post I liked then I’d follow them. I ended up getting hundreds posts everyday. I couldn’t keep up and it became stressful.

Every three to six months I’d go into my reader and look for blogs to cull. Some were easy. Any blog that looked abandoned would get removed.

For blogs that were somewhat interesting but sent too many posts I would flip the switch to “no updates.” Some bloggers have way too much time on their hands.

Un-following and relying on the lists is similar to not getting new posts.

The Twitter Cull

To get below Twitamax I used a similar selection process to what I used on WordPress. Too few or too many posts got people un-followed and on my lists only.

Some of these people never followed me back, even though it looked like they could. Others sent tweets every 35 seconds or seemed to have given up.

Culling who I followed on WordPress took a lot of time and the culling on Twitter is just as tedious. But it has to be done.

Going through my list also made me think about who I was following. Some people sent a reasonable number of tweets, but I really wasn’t that interested in what they wanted to talk about. No offense.

Other people sent tweets several times an hour and were really clogging my screen. Twitter moves fast enough without a hand full of people pumping 100 or more Tweet per day onto my feed.

Those that I wanted to keep track of but not get tweets from went onto a list. Some people were just culled from my list.

I’m still at or near Twitamax, so the process is ongoing. I think it’s a healthy exercise to go through my list and see who I’m following. One good tweet does not mean I have to follow someone for ever.

  • Do you go through your lists periodically and make a few cuts?
  • What are your strategies for dealing with Twitamax?
  • Are you strict with who you will follow?
  • How do you feel when you find you have been un-followed?

Tweet well my friends,

Andy, pub-4167727599129474, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0