Clutter-Free Social: How to Clean Up Your Social Media Life

By Dara Fontein

Social

You know that sigh of relief you breathe when you finish cleaning your house? That same feeling can be achieved by cleaning up your social media accounts. Just like when your home is a mess and you can’t find anything, the stress of an over-cluttered social media experience can be overwhelming. With an increase in social media accounts, posts, and audiences, there are accompanying increases in decisions that need to be made—similar to when your home is stuffed with knick knacks, your desk is piled with papers, or your bedroom floor is covered in clothes. Do I read this post? Do I need to wash this shirt? Should I share this with my followers? Can this junk mail be thrown out? These mental decision-making moments induce a similar brand of stress that being surrounded by mess can cause.
The solution to this chaos is found in organization. When thinking about cleaning up and organizing your social media presence, you should consider all areas of your online presence that could do with some tidying up. You will probably find it helpful to declutter the social media accounts you’re following, as well as streamlining your own social media presence to impact your overall strategy and goals for stress-free social.

Who cares?

While you may think this social media disorganization is mostly harmless, this disarray can lead to negative psychological effects.

As Daniel J. Levitin, author of “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overloadexplained to Maclean’s, “Every decision you make requires resources. Neurons are living cells with metabolisms. When they work, they need to replenish themselves with glucose, and that’s not in unlimited supply in the brain. So, whether you make a tiny decision or a big one, you’re using up those resources. The amount of choice we have in a place like a grocery store can be overwhelming. And, later in the day, when you have to make some important decision at work, or about your pension, you’ve depleted those neural resources selecting a gluten-free cereal.”

Levitin goes on to explain that this psychological clutter causes stress and the release of the hormone cortisol, which further leads to “cognitive impairment, fatigue, and a suppressed immune system.” There is no reason that the effects on your mind are any different whether the clutter is physical, as in your home, or perceived through technology and social media disorganization.

If you’re still not convinced, having an organized online presence and experience can have the following results:

  • Higher quality and more relevant content: When you organize and declutter your social media life, you have access to the updates and accounts you actually care about. You won’t get random, thrown together periphery accounts or updates that mean nothing to you.
  • More control: If you’ve ever liked an Instagram photo that shows up in your feed but can’t actually remember who the account belongs to, doing some basic decluttering will help re-establish those personal connections. When you know who you are following, and can actually associate an account with a person or specific brand, your online experience will undoubtedly feel less stressful.
  • Better connections: When your social media feeds are organized and you have more control over both who you are following and your followers, you are able to keep track of your online connections and maintain a more personalized relationship with as many of them as possible.

Now that you have a better understanding of why it’s important to declutter your social media and online presence, the following tips will help you actually get to that space of digital zen.

Identify key channels

In our previous piece aiming to help you boost your social media presence, we suggested conducting a social media audit as a way to discover where your efforts are seeing the biggest payoffs. Identifying your key channels—for both following and engaging others—is an important part of organizing your social media life. Through an audit, you can determine where you want to focus your social media efforts and where it’s best to cut your losses and abandon ship. Perhaps Vine isn’t right for your brand’s social media goals, or maybe it’s the social media network that actually makes the most sense. The social media audit template we provide is a great starting point for finding your key audience, and with this, the key channels you want to use. As you do this, ask yourself two questions: 

  1. What do you want social media to do for your business? With this, think about whether you’re using social media primarily to build brand awareness, collect leads, or see a boost in sales. If you are aiming to build awareness first and foremost, Instagram is a great place to start as there is, of course, value in building a community around your brand even if the payoff isn’t as immediately tangible as financial gains through sales.
  2. Which channels are best for these goals? When you’ve considered what you want social media to do for your business, think about which social networks will work best for these goals. This will probably be a combination of different channels, that can work together to optimize your efforts. In finding the perfect mix of networks, you will be able to concentrate fully on the social media channels that make the most sense for you and your business.

There’s a list for that

The hyper-organized amongst us, or those who just like to feel accomplished, know the power of a great list. Lists have a way of helping things make sense through offering a visual representation of a collection of thoughts. For your Twitter decluttering efforts, lists are invaluable in helping you organize your feed. A Twitter list is a curated group of Twitter users” which you can either create yourself, or subscribe to those of other users. Instead of having a Twitter feed featuring the tweets of the thousands of accounts you follow, lists allow you to view the content you need, when you need it. For example, you can create a list of news sources you are following, and then when you want to follow a breaking news story or see what’s trending in the news at any moment, you can simply click to view the Twitter list you created rather than sifting through all of the other accounts you are also following. There are many uses for Twitter lists, which include, but are not limited to, lists of:

  • Coworkers: If you’re in a profession where Twitter use among workers is popular, you can keep up with them through a Twitter list. This allows you to have a list of people you know personally, and who you can keep up with all in one place.
  • Influencers: You can also organize your Twitter feed through making a separate list for influencers in your field. This allows you to see what those making strides in your area of business are talking about, sharing, and responding to, at any given time.
  • Top Customers/Advocates: Making a public Twitter list of your top customers and brand advocates is a great way to show your appreciation to these people, as well as allow you to listen to what they are talking about.
  • Competitors: To monitor what your top competitors are up to, a great idea is to make a private Twitter list of the other leaders in your area of business. Find out what they are sharing, what their customers are engaging with, and how they are responding, and use this information to always stay one step ahead.

Clean sweep

We couldn’t write a post about cleaning up your social media accounts without making the suggestion that you go through your networks and take out those social scissors to snip away the connections that aren’t adding any value to your goals, whether they be professional or personal. While “unfriending” or “unfollowing” can sometimes feel uncomfortable, it’s a necessary step to truly attaining some social media breathing space. For Facebook, you can just click the tab with the checkmark that says “Friends” on anybody’s profile, and then go to the bottom of the drop-down menu and click the ominous “Unfriend” button. The other person will not receive a notification, and you will feel better about your life when you don’t have to see your cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s views on the Illuminati all over your News Feed.

If you have to stay friends with someone for professional reasons but perhaps find their personal updates too much, you can also just mute the person’s updates when they come up in your News Feed by clicking the little arrow and selecting either “Hide Post” (to see less posts like the one in question) or “Unfollow ______” to stop seeing their posts while remaining friends.

For Twitter, there are numerous online programs that will help you easily unfollow accounts. Some of these include:

  • Twitoria: Will scan through the Twitter accounts you are following and find those who have been inactive for an amount of time (chosen by you)
  • Tweepi: Will clean out those who don’t follow you back, as well as clear the inactive users

This is has also become a big enough issue for Instagram users, so programs are available to help ease our pain. My favourites include:

  • Crowdfire: Crowdfire lets you sign in with your Instagram (or Twitter) account and immediately see a list of your followers as well as those you are following. You can see who isn’t following you back (I thought we were friends, Rihanna), and then, if you wish, proceed to unfollow them simply by clicking the big red button next to each name. This is much easier than going through each account individually on Instagram to unfollow, and every click of the red button is oh-so-satisfying.
  • InstaGhost: If looking just to unfollow inactive Instagram accounts, or followers who have stopped interacting with you, InstaGhost will help you do just that. This will help you lower your “Following” count, and help increase that all important “Followers to Following” ratio that keeps many of us up at night.

Scheduling

The final, but perhaps most significant way of keeping on top of your social media organization, is through planning and scheduling your posts. I have found that even doing this for my personal social media accounts has made a huge difference in the amount of time and brain space I’m spending on keeping my accounts updated. While of course I’m not suggesting that you completely take the “Insta” out of Instagram, if you have evergreen content (nature shots are especially great for this purpose) you can schedule them ahead of time to take off some of the pressure to constantly create or find new content.

If you designate time to schedule posts during the week, you will most likely see a decrease in your stress levels. Of course, as you create new content or find opportunities for posts you can adjust your content schedule accordingly. The idea is simply to have a consistent number of posts to keep your audience engaged and interested, through ensuring you always have something valuable lined up.


If you’re running social media or marketing for a business or organization, you are most likely using a content editorial calendar, where you can plan your posts ahead of time. As described here, “A social media content calendar should organize the way you curate and create content, and help develop your editorial strategy.” If you aren’t using one, but would love some tips on where to start, our 18-minute Social Media Plan for Small Businesses guide can help you out. Through streamlining your publishing and sharing process, you are able to free up more time and space, allowing for clutter-free social media.

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