I deleted 4,200 I was following on Instagram, it helped there a lot, why not here?

First of all, unfollowing someone on Instagram isn't all that easy. You gotta do it on the iPhone, where you can only see about 200 people and seeing who they are, whether they've updated, etc, is pretty hard. Took me hours to go through all the people I was following and I needed to pause because it killed one battery charge.

Second of all, there are a LOT of dead accounts on Instagram. Even among so called technology elite. I wish CEOs would tell me their churn rates. That is my new measure of success. Not downloads from the app store.

So, what happened when I deleted all these folks?

My inbound dramatically improved and features that weren't working started working.

Thanks to +Mari Smith for sharing my video with Howard Rheingold on curation. Robert Scoble On Online Curation In there you can see my philosophy on followng: follow better people to get more (and better quality) followers.

This is absolutely true when it comes to photography. So, some things I did when picking the 210 people I now follow on Instagram:

1. Do I really care about what they take pictures of? Lots of people took mostly pictures of their dog. I really don't care about that. But I do care about people who try to take great photos in an attempt to get just a tiny piece of what +Trey Ratcliff or +Thomas Hawk or +Cassius Wright put here every day.

2. Are they updating regularly. Many many people haven't put up a photo in weeks. I got rid of these people because they aren't sharing their lives with me and I was just "collecting them on yet another list."

3. Would I be proud of handing them over to my best friend? Which I really am because if you are an Instagram user you can see who I'm following and you can follow them too.

Some things I learned by going through 4,400 followings?

I found that I cared most about people who I see regularly (IE, execs, VCs, press folks, etc) much more on Instagram than, say, on blogs or on Twitter (or on Google+). I think this is because of the high cost of photography on time. It takes a long time to look through photos when compared to Tweets. Partly because they take so much room on a phone (on one screen you can only see one photo, vs four tweets) but because I can't just swipe through a bunch of photos quickly the way I can with Tweets (my brain is visually-focused and it just doesn't process them the same way).

I also realized you can follow a lot of people on Instagram a LOT easier than you can unfollow them. In Instagram I can point it at Twitter or Facebook friend lists and say "follow all." I can't "unfollow all." It was very frustrating and took hours to do this.

There's a really cool "news" feature that never worked for me in Instagram (you needed to have fewer than 1,500 followings for it to work). With 209 followings this feature really rocks. I'm now able to "stalk" my friends in a very intimate and interesting way.

So, why not unfollow everywhere? Wouldn't I see some of the same benefits?

Not really. On Twitter and Google+ there are ways to "get small" (Circles here, lists on Twitter). And on both services I'm getting a business advantage to following lots of people that I never would have gotten in Instagram (on Twitter, for instance, I see "patterns" that no one else is seeing. As part of my job at Rackspace, Chief Learning Officer, it's my job to report those patterns to management. If you aren't looking at a large number of tweets or Google+ posts a day you'll never really see the patterns in enough detail.

One other thing: if you follow 200 people and they each follow 200 people, that brings in quite a lot of photos to your view. It's quite amazing actually, on the news feed I'm seeing more new photos than I used to see just paging through my inbound (they are smaller and more engaging). I'm also now far more interested in looking at that inbound feed than I was before.

Anyway, every once in a while I'll go through my services and rethink my following patterns. In this case it dramatically made the inbound much more interesting and hopefully it makes me more interesting to follow too!

I'm "Scobleizer" on Instagram. If you are looking for good geeks to follow, the 209 I'm following there are highly recommended!

Speaking of Instagram. I still love the service the most. It has dramatically better user experience than the competitors I've tried. Unfortunately it's still iPhone only, but when it comes to Android I'm sure it'll be a "must use."

Photocredit: I shot this weed yesterday on my bike ride in Half Moon Bay.

UPDATE: I saw this exact same learning over on YouTube when I deleted more than 1,000 inbound and now my home page is actually interesting and the folks I'm following on http://youtube.com/scobleizer are good and I can recommend them to other people.

UPDATE2: Jennifer Gunderson just told me about Gramfeed. Here's my account so you can see who I'm following: http://www.gramfeed.com/scobleizer
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