Why I Won’t Follow You on Twitter

As the publication date of my book draws near, I’ve been spending more time on social networking, mainly on Facebook and Twitter, keeping my friends updated and making new ones. On Facebook, it’s fairly easy for me to learn about the people I want to friend and those who want to friend me. (Did you ever think you would live in a time when “friend” would become a verb?) But Twitter goes faster, has less space (although it’s surprising what you can fit in 140 characters) and can be more abstruse.

Since I am meeting more people on Twitter, I’m getting more follows. I want to follow you back. Really, I do. So many of you post tweets that are entertaining, inspirational, and often so funny I have to avoid drinking coffee while I read them, lest it end up on my screen. But in the couple of years I’ve been on the site, running three different accounts, I’ve learned how to parse out the good from the life’s-too-short.

Here’s why I won’t follow you:

1. I know nothing about you. Twitter gives you 160 characters for a bio. If you leave this blank, I’m less likely to follow you. Tell me something about yourself. Unless you have something to hide.

2. Your avatar is Twitter’s default “egg.” Adding an image tells me that you care enough about your social presence to put a face on it.

3. You follow a lot of people but no one is following you. This tells me that you’re selling something not a lot of people want-it could be a link to a pornographic website or spam. I’m not going there.

4. You tweet in all capital letters. This is obnoxious, shouty, and difficult to read.

5. You BEG me to follow you back. BEG and BEG and BEG. Your desperation scares me off.

6. You are clearly only on this medium to sell me something. Yes, we all have something to sell, even if your only purpose on Twitter is to have fun. You’re selling your personality. But if you are hawking a product or service, the hard-sell approach will make me delete you. The soft sell (some media experts recommend never even mentioning where you can buy your brand-new book, for instance) works so much better. Let me get to know you before you offer to change my life, make me rich, or show me how to drop ten pounds of stubborn belly fat.

7. Your auto-responder is overtly spammy. Have you ever gotten one of these: “Thanks for following me! Come buy my product at XYZ.com right now! You’ll lose 30 pounds in a week!” While it’s nice to get a direct message after you follow someone, as it can be more personal than simply a blank follow, keep it short and simple. If you are meeting someone for the first time face-to-face, would you immediately leap into your sales pitch, or would you exchange a few pleasantries first?

8. Your tweets are awash with hashtags. I appreciate that you want to get indexed everywhere, but this makes your message sound like William Shatner is reciting it.

9. You tweet too damned much. Okay, a few at a time are fine. But I get frustrated when I have to scroll past your dozens of tweets about where I can get a free iPad before I can find my friend’s daily haiku. Unfollow.

Are you on Twitter? What makes you hit “unfollow” faster than Rhianna changes her hair color?

11 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Follow You on Twitter

  1. Peabea says:

    Pretty much what you said is why I’m learning to decipher followers. I’m amazed at the people who follow me, and I don’t really tweet that much. I hate to switch to approving people that ask to follow me, but not sure that I like them following me if I don’t care to follow them back. I too have a lot that just tweet dozens of quotes or product. Granted, I have found some interesting people with tips and trick about things I am interested in, but sometimes, I’m really re-thinking even being on Twitter. In my mind when I’m on there, it always brings to mind the Mockingbird because lots of it is just people quoting other people’s quotes, and I wonder if they have anything to say at all. Good post, making me think I need to re-think who I follow.

  2. JenD says:

    I’m still not hooked on Twitter and I’ve had an account there for over a year. I’ve found that some normally funny people I follow aren’t so much in their near-constant tweets. I’ve had to unfollow (who’d have thought THAT would ever be a word!) a few who simply tweet too much (including Deepak Chopra, who asks questions of the Twitterverse and only seems to respond to the hostile replies). I find I don’t really have anything clever enough to bother and truly, I don’t think anyone’s reading my tweets anyway – not even the 40 or so people who follow me (of which I know maybe 8). Your criteria for not following makes perfect sense to me.

    • laurieboris says:

      I found some to be consistently funny. There is also a great subculture for writers on Twitter. Sunday afternoon #writechat sessions have been especially helpful, or a least a productive waste of time! 😉

  3. Amarissa Cale says:

    True… Twitter has many drawbacks, but it also has it’s good points too. I only joined Twitter a couple months ago, and on the premise that I would find a lot of spam, and I most certainly did! On the other hand, I have made a few authentic and wonderful friends. In all honesty, I didn’t believe for a moment that I would keep on it, but am glad I did. I too have had to ‘unfollow’ a few. The people who are only trying to sell me something are really wasting their time… I don’t buy much that I can’t first hold in my hand! I found that if you ignore them long enough, they eventually disappear from your list of followers. I even had a couple messages telling me how much money I won, and an Ipad 2! Wow! I keep it up on Twitter and I’ll never have to work another day in my life again!

    Long and short… I am glad I persevered on Twitter, because I have made some true new friends who are fun, interesting, and insightful.

    Cheers all,

  4. Lucinda Bilya says:

    You have echoed my feelings about twitter to the letter. I like twitter at times, but I am never compelled to read the latest tweet.

    Those who carry on private conversations through a “thread” of tweets, I immediately unfollow. And, when I get twenty tweets in a row by the same person – they usually don’t have a lot to say, just a lot of squawking, I unfollow.

    If I tweet at all, it is normally once or twice a week and only if I feel I have something thoughtful to SHARE with everyone on my followers. (normallly something concerning writing or wise quotes)

    I agree with the Eggheads instead of pictures. It is much friendlier when we see a face.

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