10 Reasons I Won’t Follow You on Twitter

February 22, 2010

Before I start this rant, let me make it clear that I love gaining new followers on Twitter and I’m honored by (almost) every one—I’m grateful that you want to hear what I have to say! Also, as indicated by my high ratio of following to followers (currently 87%), my default rule is to follow back. Twitter is social media, not a broadcast platform; if you’ve taken an interest in what I tweet, I want to read yours as well, and hopefully we can learn from each other.

Not Following on TwitterBut, all of that said, there are only so many hours in a day, and not all tweet streams are worth following. Here are some indicators in your last 20-40 tweets that may prevent me (and others) from hitting that “follow back” button.

1. There are no RT’s in your tweet stream. Really—you follow 5,000 people, and not one of them has posted anything worth retweeting over the last several days? How sad.

2. Your tweets are a series of blatant sales pitches. Okay, we all need to eat, and there’s nothing wrong with occasionally promoting your content, product or service on Twitter. However, if that’s all you are doing, it’s boring. It’s like fast-forwarding through a TV show on TiVo and watching only the commercials.

3. Your tweets are obviously automated. If the time stamps on your tweets are 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:00…, it’s clear you aren’t actually interacting on Twitter, you’re just broadcasting. It’s unlikely you’ll ever even see my tweets (or those of others you are following), so why should I bother?

4. Your posts are completely off topic from my interests. My posts are primarily focused on b2b marketing, but I’m not one-dimensional; I have a variety of interests including politics, football, faith, local (Minnesota) news, technology, American Idol (only because my kids watch it, of course), economics and more. But if all of your posts are about vitamins, the real estate market in Massachusetts, the antics of your cat, or some other topic I’ve never tweeted about, sorry, I have only so much attention to give, and grateful as I am for your attention, I’m not sure why you chose to follow me first.

5. Your profile is blank. If you want others to follow you, it’s best to reveal a little bit about yourself. Following others while not disclosing your location, providing any info in Twitter’s 160-character bio field, or linking to an online profile, landing page, website, blog, or anything else you consider important, is a little creepy.

6. You’re promoting the latest “get rich quick” scheme. There is no “secret” to success: find out what you’re really good at, develop your talent, and then work your tail off—for a long time. The only people who make any money on get-rich-quick scams are those selling them (and even many who try that route fail). If these schemes really worked, we’d all be rich and poverty would be eradicated. But such schemes have been investigated over and over, and they accomplish nothing other than the transfer of wealth from the gullible to the dishonest.

7. You quote Jim Rohn. Before you flame me, I mean no disrespect to the recently departed; I know that Jim Rohn was an inspirational and widely admired speaker and writer with a compelling life story. And I’m not suggesting that everyone who quotes him is pushing the latest scam (see #6 above) or other questionable business enterprise, only that there seems to be a high correlation. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, such as @jonrognerud, a smart, helpful and worthwhile Twitterer who, via Twitter, respectfully acknowledged Rohn’s death, without in any way diminishing his legacy. But this is often a strong indicator of spam.

8. Your tweet stream contains nothing retweetable. I hope that those who follow me find my tweets occasionally worth retweeting, and I like to find links to great content from those I’m following that I can in turn retweet. But if there’s nothing in your most recent 20 or 40 tweets that appears worthy of sharing (“just got back from the gym”…”I’m at the coffee shop at 4th and Main”…”Get 1,000s of Twitter followers instantly!”…), I probably won’t bother following.

9. You’ve protected your tweets. WTF?

10. You’re inviting me to “look at my naughty pictures online.” This often leads to malware or phishing scams, and never to anything good. No thanks.

Am I wrong? Leave a comment and tell me why.

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6 Responses

  1. Nice post. Hear ya re the Sales Pitches!

  2. Hello: I sometimes find myself lost, as to what to tweet about. I’ve only been retweeted once, and that was a comment I made at newsweek. My tweets have often been inspired by whatever mood I’m in…I Am Beginning to feel either ignored or feared; maybe both! Nevertheless, I will write on what makes immediate sense to me. I’ll take on anyone I come across…TDS


  3. Tom 

    Thomas, check out this article from iMedia Connection, it may help: How to score the coveted retweet (http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/23790.asp) by Reid Carr.

  4. That was a awesome read,Maybe I might sign up to your rss.

  5. Disagree on automation. You should NOT automate everything — agreed. Many of us cannot be on Twitter all day as we would not be effective. So rather than tweeting 10 times in a row and overwhelming people, we spread the tweets — we just don’t reply right away. Not all tweets are simple RT. Sometimes they are responses to people. We don’t all pay attention to the time of response unless we’re in the middle of a conversation or a chat.


  6. Tom 

    Meryl – for clarification, yes some, careful use of automation is fine, particularly in the case you note (spreading out reply tweets you don’t have 10 in a row). The problems are with 1) bot-like behavior where it appears the tweetstream is nothing but automated messages (no interaction) or 2) making the automation too obvious (e.g. 2:00, 3:00, 4:00…). Stagger things a bit! Automation isn’t evil, I believe it just needs to be used judiciously.

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