It’s that time of the year! You’ve survived the winter and hibernation season is over. It’s time to clean out your closets, do your taxes and pump up your bike tires. Why not also take this festive cheer and clean up your digital life as well? Uncluttering your Twitter and Facebook avatars will feel just as soul-cleansing as a trip to Goodwill. Here are a few tips for spring cleaning, social media style.

Cleaning Up Facebook

Unfriend Etiquette

youre adopted cat 220x206 Spring Cleaning Tips for Facebook and TwitterA few weeks ago, I realized I was coming close to having 2,000 Facebook “friends”. I was pained by a newsfeed cluttered with college friends I barely knew even while I was still in college.

  • Now, everyday I wake up and check Facebook, peer over to the birthday box and apply one single rule. If I don’t know who the person is or know that I’ll likely never want to say Happy Birthday to them again, I give myself a present: one less friend cluttering up my newsfeed.
  • It would be wicked awesome if Facebook could implement a “People You Probably Don’t Know” as opposed to “People You May Know.” But until then, every time you see an easy unfriend target pop up on your newsfeed- did they update their photo? Take a trip to Orlando? Ask their roommate to pick up more TP? Rip the band-aid off.

Cleaning Up the Home Page

  • Try the Remove Facebook Right-Column: This script removes the right column that contains pokes, events, “People you may know” and other things that clutter your home page like so:

facebook wall 05 Spring Cleaning Tips for Facebook and Twitter

  • Utilize the “Hide” button. If you don’t want to de-friend someone then this is the second most effective way to de-clutter your homepage. When a friend pops up in your feed, simply point the cursor to the top right corner of that story box. A “hide” button will appear. Select that button, and it should provide a pull-down menu with both “Hide Joe.” This also works for pages you’ve Liked that update to frequently.
  • Utilize Privacy settings. You can reduce other people’s news feeds (and increase security at the same time) by changing the settings for some of your options to only notify friends, not friends of friends or mutual friends.

Suck In Your Own Gut

Identity theft expert Jeremy Miller, Director of the Investigation and Restoration Center at the Fraud Solutions division of Kroll, offers some tips for users to better protect the information they share on social networking websites.

  • Even with privacy settings employed, the best practice is to not post anything that you wouldn’t say in public.
  • Be wary of 3rd party applications, like quizzes, because they ask for a lot of information about you, your life, and your interests. Before you provide information, think about how the answers you give can potentially be used elsewhere. Is the quiz asking for information typically used in security or challenge questions, as with a bank or credit card account? Identity thieves are known to sometimes collect bits and pieces of information through applications like this.
  • Be aware that if your friends use privacy settings that are less stringent that yours, then your information/photos might be seen by others to whom you are not connected.

Untag

  • Take an hour to untag yourself or delete any photos from years ago that are objectionable or distasteful. Start backwards with the least-recent photos. You can also make all of your photos private but this doesn’t untag you, so they can still be seen in other people’s albums.

Reduce email notifications

  • This will significantly reduce your annoyance with Facebook. To adjust how much email you receive, go to the “Settings” menu and select “Account Settings”, then select “Notifications” from the list. I such deselecting all notifications, after all, you know you check Facebook everyday as it is.

Cleaning Up Twitter

tumblr lj5ccgvxLg1qejjfeo1 400 200x300 Spring Cleaning Tips for Facebook and TwitterTweet & Follow Etiquette

  • Similar to if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all… If you don’t have something relevant and fresh to add to the conversation, don’t Tweet.
  • Don’t follow people just to have them follow you back.

Unfollow Tips

  • ManageFlitter is a great web app to see a visual representation of your Twitter clutter. The app breaks down lists, noted with icons of the people you follow you don’t follow you back, Twitter people you follow who haven’t yet uploaded a photo, inactive Tweeters, talkative Tweeters and quiet Tweeters.

Screen shot 2011 04 06 at 9.54.13 AM 520x301 Spring Cleaning Tips for Facebook and Twitter

  • First, decrease the number of people you follow by unfollowing inactive Twitter accounts like accounts for past events, parents and boring celebrities (Sorry Dad and Kate Moss).
  • Then, declutter your Twitter feed by looking at people who don’t follow you back, ranked by their last tweet. If you didn’t find their last tweet that interesting, unfollow. Opening up all those tabs manually (there’s no auto unfollow function unfortunately) may be slightly time consuming and painful, but I liken it to getting a facial. Yeah, it hurts, but your skin will thank you later.

Keeping Your Feed Relevant

  • Use Twitter lists to better curate your newsfeed. See our guide to How Twitter Lists Work.
  • If following algorithmically important people is your thing, check out Klout (beta)- a Chrome extension and a Twitter rating system that tells you what Klout scores Twitter users have in your Twitter stream. The higher their Klout score, the greater their power influence in the Twitterverse. It ranks search results and lists, which is great because it allows you to weigh how much importance you give to certain Tweeps.

Screen shot 2011 04 06 at 11.24.34 AM 520x377 Spring Cleaning Tips for Facebook and Twitter

The Internet is not without a lot of noise and commotion, which often detracts from how awesome the Internet really is. Thankfully, there are many tools and nuances of etiquette that can really make the digital space that much more of an enjoyable place. Cause really, it’s about to get very warm out, and you should be spending time at the beach reading TNW on your iPad, not bothered by Facebook wall update notifications.

How do you plan on cleaning up your social media presence this spring? Share your stories in the comments!