I’m on Twitter a lot these days, playing hashtag bingo with Kanye West promoting fellow indies and, well, even my own work once in a while. I love meeting new followers, and I want to follow you back. Really, I do.
But in the past five years or so 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 are some “red flags” that tell me you might be the wrong person to follow (if indeed you ARE a person!):
1. I know nothing about you. Twitter gives you 160 characters for a bio. KS Brooks even wrote this great, handy post about how to spiff it up. If you don’t include a bio, I’m less likely to follow you. Tell me something about yourself. Unless you have something to hide. Do you?
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. Really. It’s not that hard.
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. Some of you might, but that’s your business.
4. You tweet in all capital letters. This is obnoxious, unprofessional, shouty, and difficult to read.
5. You BEG me to follow you back and retweet everything you post. Not only do you beg, but you BEG and BEG and BEG: PLEASE RETWEET OR MILLIONS OF CHILDREN AND MADAGASCAR HISSING COCKROACHES WILL DIE! Your desperation scares me, and frankly, perhaps you should have a discussion with a trained professional.
6. You are clearly on this medium just 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. Don’t forget the social in social media. Even though Twitter tends to be a flash-and-dash sort of place, you, your followers, and those you follow are still a community. 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 new diet book at XYZ.com right now! I’ll show you how to lose thirty 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 see new people on the street, do you rush up to them and shove your book in their faces? Do you wander into strangers’ houses at dinnertime and plop your paranormal dystopian zombie mystery romance on their kitchen tables? Lord, I hope not. At least exchange a few pleasantries first. And bring something good for dessert.
8. You’re beating me over the head with your book so frequently I have a concussion. It’s the indies’ dilemma. We’ve been told to promote our books on social media. It can work if done right. But if you write one book and pound potential readers to death with it…well…that’s a bunch of dead readers. Nobody wants that. Not even zombie writers. Ease off.
9. Your tweets are awash with hashtags. I appreciate that you want to get indexed everywhere, but this makes your message read like William Shatner is reciting it.
10. 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 your FREE EBOOK RIGHT NOW TODAY FREE EBOOK before I can find my friend’s daily haiku. Unfollow.
If you’re on Twitter, what makes you hit “unfollow” faster than a Kardashian can divorce her husband?
(Note: This post was previously published, in a less-snarky form, on http://laurieboris.com.)