If you are a twitter user who believes in reciprocal following, there are a number of tools available to help you manage your lists. As with everything in life, there are pros and cons to each. Here are a couple of tools that will take the pain out of managing your TwitList.

Important Note: While there’s a wide selection of twitter-helper “follow” tools available on the Web, many require your username and password to access your data. These types of sites tend to use your API allotment, which is limited to 100 per hour. (API means “Application Programming Interface” and is the protocol that lets third-party applications access twitter’s servers.)

If you use up all of your available API, you are then forced to wait about an hour until your API limit is reset. This means you also have to wait to be able to tweet with applications like Tweetdeck or Seesmic Desktop.

Important Note: Because you are only allowed 100 API accesses per hour, you can quickly burn through your allowed API usage with some applications and end up hitting your hourly limit within minutes. TwitterKarma, for example, is a very popular tool designed to help manage your lists, but it does utilize API. In addition to affecting third-party applications like TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop, it also becomes unwieldy if you either have an especially large number of followers or are following a very large number of people. While TwitterKarma is handy for Tweeters with small lists, it quickly becomes cumbersome and unmanageable with larger twitter lists.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. Two invaluable sites, http://FriendorFollow.com and http://DoesFollow.com, can be used together to help maintain your follow lists, even if you are dealing with large numbers of followers. These sites allow you to easily find out who is not following you back, and you can also find the people who are following you but you’re not yet following. Because these two particular sites do not use your API allocation, they will not affect any third-party applications you happen to use.

http://FriendorFollow.com/ compares the people you’re following with the people who are following you, and does not require that you give your password. At the main screen, simply type in your user name, and click on the “submit” button.

The site then grabs your follow lists and breaks down the information into three categories, which are accessible by choosing the appropriate tab at the top of the screen. The choices are:

  • A) the people you’re following who aren’t following you back,
  • B) the people who are following you but you’re not yet following, and
  • C) the people you’re following who are also following you back.

Each section appears with its own tab at the top of the table where the information is displayed, making navigation quick and easy.

The follower/following data itself is presented in a graphical format which displays the picture or avatar of the user. When you hover your cursor over an individual’s picture, a little pop-up window tells you the user’s name, username, the number of people the user is following, the number of people who are following the user, the date of the user’s last tweet, and the date the user joined twitter.

The default display shows the users in alphabetical order. By using the pull-down menu at the upper right corner, you can change the display to sort by Username, Name, Location, Number of Followers, Number of people the user is following, the date of the users last tweet, and the date the user joined twitter. Clicking on an avatar opens the user’s twitter home page in a new window, where you can then choose to follow or unfollow, depending on which FriendorFollow tab you are viewing.

Important note: The information presented on the FriendorFollow results page is not necessarily current. Some of the content is cached, so the actual stats may vary. It is a good idea to refresh the list periodically by going back to the main screen and re-entering your username to conduct a new query.

Remember that the FriendorFollow information is not always current, so it’s a very good idea to verify whether someone is following you back before you remove them permanently. This is where http://DoesFollow.com/ comes in handy. This site lets you type in two user names to see if one is following the other, and using this resource will keep you from accidentally unfollowing someone who is actually one of your loyal followers.

These two tools should help make your follow list management effortless and easy. If you have found any other twitter resources that have helped you manage your followers, please leave a note in the comments section below, and I will post a review of them once I have had a chance to check them out. Thanks in advance for your input, and happy tweeting!