Ever wondered why more people don’t follow you when you’ve followed them? Well, I’m not a mind-reader, but I know what turns me off…
1. YOU HAVEN’T PROVIDED A PHOTO
The effort you put into your Twitter presence matters to me. It shows how seriously you take your participation and tells me whether you have any intention of developing a personal connection. To build a Twitter relationship with you I need to be able to see you (or your well-considered brand) not a cartoon version of you or an image that means nothing to me and, for all I know, means even less to you.
2. YOU HAVEN’T FILLED OUT YOUR BIO
How hard can it be to give a few lines of information that will interest potential followers and nudge them into following you in return? There is something withdrawn and secretive about empty bios that sets my teeth on edge. If you want to be secretive you have no business being on Twitter. It feels like you want to gain the benefit of other people sharing information, but have no intention of giving in return. Instant, epic follow fail. On the other hand, I’ve followed people whose Twitter streams weren’t the best, but whose blogs, sites or portfolios were so good I returned their follow to get updates. I’ve also followed people whose bios made me chuckle, or intrigued me. It only takes a minute to fill it out. Don’t be lazy or shy. Do it. Do it now.
3. THE ‘WEBSITE’ YOU LIST IS SOMETHING RANDOM LIKE A FACEBOOK PROFILE
It really doesn’t take much effort to have an online presence these days. It can even be free. The only exceptions to this is if the follower is a teenager or an artist, in which case a DeviantART profile will suffice. Better not to put a website there than to put one that doesn’t do you justice. Concentrate on an engaging bio instead.
4. YOU’RE FOLLOWING VASTLY MORE PEOPLE THAN ARE FOLLOWING YOU
If you concentrate on providing value-filled, amusing, or engaging content you won’t have to try so hard to get people to follow you. If you build it, they will come.
5. YOUR UPDATES ARE ALL ABOUT PUSHING YOUR SERVICE, BRAND OR PRODUCT
There’s a fine line between using your Twitter presence to legitimately spread the word about what you’re doing, and turning into a raging bore. Even if you’ve got thousands of followers (probably because you’ve subscribed to an impersonal following service) it won’t wash with me. It’s slightly different if it’s a business with a product I’m interested in, like Apple. Then I follow just so I won’t miss updates. But I expect fellow writers and friends to be more giving. Tell me where you’ve been and what you thought of what you saw there. Share, or leave the flock.
6. YOU USE AUTO-DM’S TO THANK ME FOR FOLLOWING YOU
That’s such an insult. Either don’t thank me at all (it’s fine, honest, just send me interesting tweets later), or thank me personally (super impressive). While I might have give you the benefit of the doubt if your auto-DM was carefully crafted and thoughtful, an instant follow fail occurs if your auto-DM simultaneously invites me to buy your service, blog or product. If your website is listed on your profile page I’ll find you and your product, trust me.
7. YOU’RE DESPERATELY HAWKING FOR “MORE FOLLOWERS” IN YOUR UPDATE STREAM
I’ll admit that when I was within 9 followers of hitting the magic 1,000 mark I sent out one tweet asking if I’d make it over the line by the end of the weekend. Since I was getting on average ten new followers a day anyway it was a rhetorical question more than an indiscriminate request. But we all know the other variety of that sort. They don’t care who follows them, they just want the numbers to go through the roof. But high numbers don’t mean much. Followers who know you, who interact with you, who share the same interests as you are the ones you want to gather to your flock. They’re the only ones who’ll care what you tweet about, anyway. Be patient. Choose quality over quantity.
8. YOU DON’T ENGAGE YOUR TWITTER FOLLOWERS
It’s too easy to forget that Twitter should be a conversation, not a monologue. There are businesses who are not there to play but to broadcast updates, and they are a breed apart and are usually the ones who are followed, not following. Yet even in that category, if I tweet a customer service concern and get a very slow response or no response at all, I’m likely to unfollow and may even switch brands. But for the rest of us, it’s not called social media for nothing. This is not the place to be a selfish lover, taking but not giving. So remember to check on your Twitter friend’s streams and respond to things you find interesting there. Show that you care enough to visit their house once in a while, instead of always making them come round to yours.
9. YOU NEVER RESPOND TO TWEETS DIRECTED TO YOU
Friendship isn’t always reciprocated, and if you’re Neil Gaiman or Stephen Fry, well, yeah, how could you possibly respond to everyone who wants to converse with you? Some people are interesting enough to make that one-sided relationship worthwhile, but for the most part it feels like a slap in the face. If it happens too often, I deduce that they’re not interested in maintaining a relationship and I turn my attention elsewhere.
10. YOUR TWEETS REVEAL ANGER MANAGEMENT ISSUES
I’ve never actually had to deal with this one, but if someone was consistently abrasive or unkind that would be an instant un-follow. The world is hard enough, don’t you think? One of the things I’ve found most worthwhile about Twitter is the sense of community, the desire to help each other move up and onwards. I wouldn’t want to follow anyone who could interfere with that spirit of collaboration and kindness. It’s one of Twitter’s most enchanting characteristics.
Good points, Lia, all. I'm pleased too, that Twitter is not searching and blocking those pesky "followers" that are only links to porn sites. Yeech, that was bad.
Thank you, Conda! I'm glad you didn't find it too strident. I was worried about that!
Excellent article! I've experienced many of those. Just today I got a DM that was pornographic. "Are you kidding me?" Instant block! I think it's helpful for people to be reminded of these pointers. Thanks, Lia!
I always seem to get the late night spam from Thailand. Not sure what they gain by spamming without a bio or any followers. It’s a total mystery to me. But I think it’s important to weed out inappropriate followers. They say you can know a man by his friends, and I believe the same is true of Twitter. So I make sure my friends on Twitter are a true reflection of my interests.
You can also use the fairly new list feature on Twitter to create lists of people in certain categories. So I have a #ScribeChat peeps list, and should probably have a list of Brits Who Tweet and Bloggers, etc. In this way friends can follow an entire list at once, if they trust you to have weeded out the rotten eggs.
I was born yesterday to Twitter, and not much longer to my blog. Working on a photo (hate the prospect, but I get it), and learning as I go slowly along, Ms Necessary as my Tweet mentor. It had to be said and I appreciate the pointers. Especially glad to the hear the sentiments "if you build it they will come," and quality over quantity. Always good to be reminded of those truths.
Birgitte Necessary's blog is a clear example of how great content builds a loyal and enthusiastic following in a short space of time! The same principle applies to using Twitter. It's not just there to say "Hey, don't you want to read my new blog post?" It's there for you to reach out, make friends, who will then CARE if you tell them there's a new blog post up. I'm glad you have Birgitte as your Tweet mentor, and I wish you all the best with your amazing-looking blog! Incidentally, I'm in love with your Twitter icon! Wherever did you find it?
This is excellent! I think I'll tweet a link to it! The only thing I would add is that I don't follow people who ramble aimlessly on and on filling up page after page. That's what direct messages are for. I love #10, that cracks me up! I know a few folks like that…