Why I Won’t Follow You on Twitter

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.)

Author: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Learn more about Laurie at her website and her Amazon author page.

30 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Follow You on Twitter”

  1. Good points, Laurie. I am careful about who I follow as well. If it’s not related to writing in some way, forget it. And now I’ve been getting requests through these new channels that ‘guarantee 1000 followers’. It’s not about numbers, it’s about relevance.

    1. Thanks, Yvonne. Yeah, I’m wary of those “guaranteed followers” deals. Will they share your interests? Will they even be people? Or Twitbots? 😉

  2. Excellent! I feel I’m on the right track cos i get everyone of those. And dislike all those neg things and try not to do them! Thanks 🙂
    ps have just followed you!

  3. I don’t follow people who direct users to some sort of validation service. It’s such a pain! I also unfollowed a blogger who kept tagging me in tweets. She would ask questions that directed me to a recent blog post. She’s still doing it even though we don’t follow each other. It’s weird, creepy, and kinda stalkerish. Guess I need to request that she lay off.

      1. Me, too. There are so many other ways to “vet” a potential follower yourself. For me, it sort of flies in the face of the “social” aspect of the site.

  4. I love these, Laurie. I feel bad about not spending more time on Twitter, but then when I do, it often seems like one big “BUY MY BOOK!!!” feed. Setting up filters in HootSuite helps…but then I have to remember to go to HootSuite. Sigh.

  5. I check out the profile, facebook page and website – if they put them on their profile. I engage with people who look interesting. I only unfollow people if they send me links to suspect pages or do as you say – post 400 tweets in a row.

  6. I unfollow people who won’t follow me.

    Sometimes it’s surprising who is not following you …

    @laurieboris … ahem … did I talk about my book too much??

    1. Hey Laurie, I just got a Retweet on a tweet of this! I’m going to go follow that person right now …

  7. Good stuff, Laurie. I always go to their web site to find out what they are promoting. If it is something that interests me, I’ll follow, but if it turns me off, I definitely will not. I don’t go to Twitter often. When I write a new blog post (which has not been very often lately either) I Tweet it and I will Tweet posts from blogs I follow if I feel they have something worthwhile to offer. But Twitter is not my favorite social media.

  8. I still can’t cozy up to Twitter. And some of my followers are just plain odd, but harmless. I think. I’m following them just to be sure. 😉

  9. I go to Twitter sometimes but seems some of my followers love to just post quotes and not their real words…I need to clean up my list. I don’t follow back unless they’ve posted a profile, a link to a website if they have one that I can visit to get feel of who they are, and I check to see how many followers they have vs how many they are following, and I’m leery if it says they have gobs but they aren’t following anyone back, I don’t follow reciprocate the follow. I

    I find it hard to interact with Twitter because it just seems like a scrolling ticker like the one at the bottom of the nightly news. I often wonder if anyone really pays attention to tweets to check out something interesting or just tweeting their stuff? Seems kind of one sided to me and once the tweet is gone, it’s gone unless you’re on there constantly, Not my favorite social site, but maybe I just don’t know how to use it or have a real reason to use it. Lately, FB doesn’t seem that social to me either.

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