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If you have fewer than 5,000 followers or are stuck with 4,999 followers and unable to add more to your Following list, you may be wondering why. Part of Twitter’s algorithm to stop spammers and scammers (and be annoying to real accounts) is to limit the number of people you can follow. The first part of this code that most people notice is the 5,000 follower limit. This means that if you are following 5,000 people and 5,000 people are not following you, Twitter will tell you that you cannot follow any more accounts.

The 5,000 Follower Limit

Twitter allows all accounts the ability to follow as many other accounts as they wish up to 5,000. Of course, this is not all-inclusive. Twitter also put a limit on the number of accounts you can follow each day. That limit is 400. This means that if you are going out and finding 400 accounts to follow each day, you would hit the 5,000-follower Twitter limit in 12.5 days.

Once you are following 5,000 accounts, you will not be able to follow more accounts until the people following you reach 5,000.

For Example: 

Let’s say you’ve busted your butt and added 5,000 people to your Following list in 30 days. That’s an average of 167 accounts a day, which is perfectly doable with a little time and effort. Now, for all your effort, 1,500 of those accounts are following you, which is pretty standard. You can expect about 1/3rd of the accounts you follow to follow you back. Unfortunately, you’re stuck until 5,000 accounts follow you. This means that if the other 3,500 accounts never follow you back, you’ll be stuck at 5,000 for eternity.

Getting Rid of the Gap

In order to follow more accounts, you’re going to have to remove accounts, because *drum roll* you have to get the people who are following you to 5,000 in order to go beyond 5,000. It’s important to understand that no one really wants to remove any accounts from their lists, but it must be done due to the limitations placed on accounts by Twitter’s algorithms.

1. Get Rid of Celebrity Accounts, News Channels and Sports Accounts

When you first arrive on Twitter, Twitter typically recommends following big accounts, like celebrities, musicians, personalities, politicians, new channels, etc. Get rid of them. These accounts are mostly unmanned or they’re managed by a team of people or a third party company that does nothing but manage social media accounts for celebrities and high profile people. Just get rid of all these accounts right now. They will never follow you back. They will never like your posts or comment. There’s no reason to follow these accounts. If you are really truly interested in what some of these accounts are saying, you can add them to a list and check that list periodically for updates.

2. Get Rid of Your Unfollowers 

The second easiest way to clean up your Following list is to get rid of people who have unfollowed you. This means either you followed them or they followed you and you followed back, and the account unfollowed you at a later date. These types of accounts have proven that they do not want to interact with you. They’re not seeing your posts, and they’re not contributing or talking to you. Get rid of them. The best program I’ve found to get rid of unfollowers is WhoUnfollowedMe. They have a free option, and while it does contain limitations, it’s fantastic for quickly finding and removing unfollowers. However, you should never unfollow people from any 3rd party Twitter app. You should always unfollow accounts directly on Twitter. This is because using a 3rd party app for Twitter actions can result in your account getting suspended because it trips Twitter’s BOT code. 

3. Get Rid of Your Not Followers (Also sometimes referred to as non-followers)

Not Followers or non-followers are people who you have followed but have not followed you back. This is the third type of account you need to clear in order to reduce the number of accounts you are following below 5,000 so that you can follow more accounts that may follow you back. The best app I have found for this is UnfollowerStats. This program allows you to locate your not followers and remove them from oldest to newest. Under no circumstances, should you open your following list and start removing people from the top down. Those accounts located at the top of your following list are the ones you just added, and they may not have had time to review the people following them and add the real accounts. You should really give the new accounts you follow anywhere from two to four weeks to add you. 

4. Create Lists

If you really hate the idea of using third-party apps to find and remove unfollowers and people who have not followed you back, you can use Twitter’s List function to help you. Every day you follow people, you can add them to a list. I would recommend naming that list according to the month and day of the month.

For Example: 

If you are adding new people today (on the day this post was written), you’d name your list December 16. Then, you would add an account then add that account to your list. The advantage of this method is that you will know the exact date you added specific accounts, and you will know how many accounts you added. The downside is that this is very time-consuming. However, once you have your list, wait 14 to 30 days. Then, go back through the list and unfollow all the accounts that didn’t follow you back and delete the list. As a reminder, you want to make lists of this nature PRIVATE. No one wants to know that they are being added to a list for this purpose.

Follow Limits After 5,000 Followers

Once you crest 5,000 followers, you will encounter the 10 percent limit. This limit means that you can only follow 10 percent more people than are following you. 

For Example:

If you have 5,000 followers, you can add up to 5,500 people to your Following List. If you have 10,000 people following you, you can add more people until you are following 11,000 accounts.

Of course, the 10 percent limitation means that you’ll still have to track your unfollowers and not followers if you want to keep expanding the reach of your account. Since this is time-consuming, you may not want to do it all the time. For that reason, I recommend setting some time aside every week, every two weeks or once a month to clear unfollowers and not followers.

I do want to stress that no one really wants to do this. We follow accounts because we like them or they provide value in the content they post. Unfortunately, Twitter has eliminated the option of being able to follow as many accounts as you wish, regardless of who is following you back. It is a necessary evil if you want to keep expanding the reach of your Twitter account.