Why I Still Won’t Follow You on Twitter

doing stupid things on social media social-1206612_640I joined Twitter in 2008. It looked like a fun way to connect with people and share blog posts. I made a lot of mistakes at first — I got spammed, I got hacked, I got suspended…and then I got smarter. I stopped automatically following anyone who followed me. I learned how to recognize the red flags that pretty much guaranteed the person behind the avatar (if it was indeed a person) had no interest in two-way communication. Many things about Twitter have changed since then. A lot of users have gotten savvier about Twitter etiquette since 2012 when I first posted about this topic, but I continue to heed a few basic signs (and a few new ones) before hitting the “follow” button. Here’s why I’m still not following you:

1. You won’t tell me anything about yourself. 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. It makes me think you have something to hide. Do you?

2. You don’t trust me. Hey, your tweet looked interesting. It made me laugh, it made me think, it made me want to click right over to Amazon and buy your book. Now I want to follow you on Twitter and read more of your wit and wisdom. But…I can’t! You sent my follow request to a TrueTwit validation app; now I have to pony up a captcha code and a DNA sample and… Yeah, not doing it. TrueTwit is a waste of time and money and it alienates your potential social media followers. Please stop.

3. Your avatar is Twitter’s default “egg.” Not adding an image tells me you’re either a spammer or you don’t care enough about your social presence to put a face on it. Really. It’s not that hard. Don’t be an egg.

4. You follow a lot of people but no one is following you. This tips me off to one of two things: you’re selling something not a lot of people want, or your sole purpose for being on Twitter is to shout your message (repeatedly) through a tiny, tiny megaphone. Which leads me to…

5. You are clearly just here to sell me something. If you’re hawking a product or service, an unrelenting hard-sell approach can turn a lot of people off. Don’t forget the social in social media. Even though Twitter tends to be a flash-and-dash sort of place, and yes, I’ve dropped a few “please buy my book” posts, it’s still a community. Say hello you before you offer to change my life, make me rich, or show me how to drop ten pounds of stubborn belly fat. Or at least post a cute kitten video once in a while, for Pete’s sake.

6. Your auto-responder is spam spam spam. Have you ever followed someone and gotten one of these: “Luv u 4ever 4 following me! Like my FB page! Buy my bk now! Lose 30 lbs a wk!” Sending a direct message to a new follower can be a nice touch, sometimes, but think about what you’re doing. Do you rush up to strangers on the street and shove your book in their faces? Do you wander into random houses at dinnertime and plop your paranormal dystopian zombie mystery romance on the kitchen table? Lord, I hope not. At least exchange a few pleasantries first. And bring something good for dessert.

7. Your tweets are a crazy salad of hashtaggery. I appreciate that you want to capture every market imaginable, but a hashtag pileup makes your message read like William Shatner is reciting it. #Readers will #understand that your #mermaid #cozy #mystery #ebook is a #free #deal #right #now sans the hashtag mess. You’re a writer. You can be creative in 140 characters without doing that to people.

If you’re on Twitter, what makes you hit “unfollow” faster than a Kardashian can divorce her husband?

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.

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

    1. #Thanks #Malcolm! Hashtags can be creative sometimes. I used to use #readingmakesyousexy and then someone decided to use the name for her book blog.

  1. Auto-responders are the quickest way to get me to unfollow. I’m not a huge Twitter fan, anyway. I mainly like it because it’s an easy way to share information (such as this post!). But when I follow someone and get an automatic, “I’d drink bleach to get you to read my book!” (yes, that really happened), or “Check out my book on Amazon!” I get annoyed. At least say “hello” first, for Pete’s sake.

    1. Yes! I used to send nice PMs to interesting twitterati only to get a me/me/me auto response back. That is not how to have a conversation.:/

  2. Great post. Those autoresponders are a definite turnoff. Seriously, if someone values the engagement enough then they should respond as a human

    1. I don’t know if the people who use auto-responders realize just how much they turn some potential followers off. Maybe because so many use it so poorly. Or they don’t care.

      1. I actually have one on mine, another author said it was a must! Now I have no idea how to take it off, can’t even remember what it says.

        1. Actually, figured it out. Went to remove it, and I have to get the app’s permission to take it off by sending an e-mail request? At least I was able to remove the auto-responder. I won’t unfollow someone if they have it, but I won’t read it either. You get enough of a preview to know if it’s actually spam or not. If no interaction thereafter, then I unfollow.

  3. Every one of those reasons will get you unfollowed. If you follow me and I follow back and then 5 minutes later I get one of those auto Direct Message. I go straight to the unfollow button. If I even see those apps on your bio page, I’m not following you. If you have thousands of followers by have only tweeted 5 tweets and they are all nude, nope. Great post!

  4. Good points. I have become much more savvy about twitter following. I hate the truetwit thingy, too. On the other hand it is the one place where I do manage to connect with new readers, especially when I have a promo on. Like everything else, I think it’s a mixed bag.

  5. Dawwww. I’d be happy to have Captain Kirk reading my tweets. 🙂 Good post, Laurie.

    I also avoid people who tweet every few minutes, especially when those tweets are repeats of what they’ve been posting ad infinitum.

  6. Great post. I’ve hated some of the types you’ve described and hardly use Twitter because of that. Sometimes I wonder how they even find me at all! It’s pure “In your face” marketing of the worst kind.

  7. Great post, Laurie! I hate the auto-responders and the other crap. While my books are mentioned on Twitter, I post much more about other authors and other things. Like you, I keep track of people trying to take advantage of me or my friends. Just last week I had to remove someone. I figure that folks can find out about me by scrolling down to see what I have retweeted. I’ve met some genuine people on Twitter. Then again . . .


  8. Yup. Good list. I’ve also begun to not follow people who all seem to be tweeting the exact same promos over and over, even if they are supposedly authors, especially if some of them appear to be sock puppet accounts. (It’s for art, not writing, but look up “Afremov” on Twitter to see someone industrially filling the Twitter-verse with wall-to-wall promotion under multiple accounts.)
    Then there are the porn accounts and the twitter spammers and the people spreading nutty or hateful conspiracy theories, but I’d better not go there.

    1. Hi, Joan. The list of Twitter account names is when you want that tweet to show up on that person’s feed. It’s akin to tagging someone on Facebook. I hope that helps.

      1. Thanks for your reply, Laurie. I see my question was a bit ambiguous. I get it if you tweet a link, for example, and want specific accounts to see the tweet. But I was thinking of the tweets that are only a list of twitter accounts. What’s with that?

  9. Bios where the person tries to demonstrate how cool and unconventional he or she is:

    “I am but a single thread in the tapestry of life; I paint in colours that no one can see; my words are ephemeral and ever-lasting.”

    Really? *Really*? 🙂 Good for a laugh, but not for a follow.

  10. I agree with your points too since I won’t follow if they are just selling and that’s it. I want to interact with people. Maybe one hashtag or even two max. I’m not crazy about the following then them telling me to buy their stuff. That True Twit validation annoys me too. Then again you can tell who the real people are….

  11. It’s probably my quirk, but I don’t follow those who feel compelled to declare their religion or other religious references first, especially if they’re not some sort of religious leader like a Pastor, Reverend, Rabbi, Priest, Monk, Imam, etc.

  12. I won’t follow people whose bio stresses the fact that they’re Christian or any other religion. Ditto those who want to sell you a gazillion followers. Ditto anyone whose avatar shows cleavage.

    If an author starts relentlessly tweeting about their book hour after hour, day after day, I’ll likely block them rather than unfollow, just in case they get over themselves some day.

    Great post! And now it’s time to purge followers again…

  13. Ditto on all your points, Laurie. I don’t follow anyone when I see endless tweets and no retweets or even one conversation on their page. It’s time consuming to check all new followers, but I think it’s worth it in the end.

  14. Great post, Laurie. I have to gear myself up to go on Twitter. I really don’t enjoy it. The, “This account is private” really infuriates me. Why go on Twitter if you want to be private? I agree with whoever said the religion thing. Joan Lane, was that you? I have to say that tweeting on the smart phone is much easier than on the computer. Still don’t like Twitter though.

  15. I hate the DMs that come with following someone new. I’d say 30% of them do it. And to make matters worse, when someone DMs me, Twitter sends it out as a tweet from me! It’s maddening, and you can’t get any help from them. But I digress…. Truetwit is out for me too. How annoying. Personally, not a fan of twitter, but I have had some lovely conversations with readers there.

    1. Yikes… I don’t know what Truetwit is. Good to know I should avoid it, but how do I tell if someone is using it. Do they say? I also have a paltry number of followers compared to most.

      1. Joan, Truetwit is a service that makes followers validate their account before they can follow a specific person. For example, someone follows you, you go to follow back and get a pop-up that tells you “So-and-so uses TrueTwit validation services. Please validate your account.” Then if you still want to follow that person you have to check a box to validate that you’re a real person, and then enter a captcha code. People use it to keep spam accounts from following them, but it’s annoying to anyone just trying to follow someone else. When I’m confronted with extra steps for trying to follow someone, I generally just give up.

  16. I think my main issue with Twitter is the 140 character limit, event though I tend to write short. I hate misspelling words intentionally to fit what I want to say within 140 characters because I’m not a natural speller and its taken me a lifetime of reading, crossword puzzles, and the squiggly red line to get it right. I think Twitter will destroy my hard-learned spelling skill, such as it is.

    1. I sort of like the 140-character limit, Joan. It tests my creativity. There are some really cool things going on with Twitter haiku and micro stories. But they can be hard to find in the clutter.

  17. I agree about the hashtags(and everything else as well)!
    It hurts my eyes seeing a post where just about every word is written as a hashtag. Bios as well!

    A pet peeve of mine is also bios beginning with “Award-winning author!”. First of, awards mean absolutely nothing to me. Secondly, the word has lost its meaning since people now use it if they have won said award at their local book club or something. It might sound highly judgmental of me, but I no longer follow anyone with a bio like that.

    All in all, Twitter is just a mess of people shouting into the void. I use it mostly if I’m bored and just want to ramble about random stuff.

  18. Terrific post, Laurie. In my case, one of the best reasons to unfollow (and block!) someone is when they spam people with individual tweets asking them to buy their book. This rookie strategy is not just rude, but also shows their unreal sense of entitlement. You get all sorts on Twitter and this one is a particularly infuriating specimen!

  19. Such great info in this article, Laurie. Thank you. I read with great interest. While I’m not new to Twitter–I had to open an account for my day job years ago–I’ve just recently tried to begin connecting with other writers. There’s certainly a lot to learn and navigate. Appreciate all of the tips! I am always interested what everyone’s thoughts are on the right frequency of tweets. I follow some writers who tweet up to 10 times a day, usually with the #amwriting hashtag and the need for coffee. I can’t imagine that it’s all that useful to them…

    1. Thank you, Stacie! It’s tough to know what works and what doesn’t, as far as frequency. Some authors I know sell a lot through Twitter. Guess it depends on your audience and what you do with it. That could be a blog for another day! Now I #amwriting and #needcoffee.

  20. I appreciate that you wrote this to let folks know about how to use Twitter properly. I follow all your tips, and I think Twitter works for me better than ever. I do know auto replies are less than they were when I first started using Twitter several years back. Good article. Thanks for spreading the word.

  21. Great post, Laurie! I confess; I’ve been on Twitter for years but have really never really committed to it as I have with Facebook. Probably for many of the reasons you’ve sited. Thank you for taking the guilt off me for feeling I need to follow everyone who follows me!

    One person I’ve learned a lot about Twitter from is Jonathan Gunson. He’s a lovely New Zealander who is a master of building genuine relationships so that when you DO occasionally need to say, “Buy my book,” your followers aren’t offended. They’ve received so much value from what you’ve shared, they’re happy to support you. IF I decide to stay on Twitter, that’s what I’ll strive for.

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