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?