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I've just been working my way through a few Twitter emails from over the weekend, and deciding whether to follow people back or not.

Having initially followed the advice of Guy Kawasaki and automatically followed everyone who followed me, I have become more circumspect lately, to keep the content more relevant.

I also tend to make snap decisions, based on the bio, and the last few posts. Here are ten reasons not to follow people back...

Too many Tweets

Some Twitter users just post too much, often when they are using automated feeds to post. I normally use Tweetdeck, and if I'm seeing too many Tweets from one user,  then I may be missing other more relevant posts.

Your links contain frames

Rather than using services like bit.ly or tinyurl, some Twitter users post links which are framed, companies like Hootsuite and Adjix offer this type of URL shortener, which is used to serve ads.

Framing content is unpopular and bad for the user experience, as was proven by the recent backlash against the DiggBar. It's also unnecessary when they are perfectly good URL shorteners around that don't use frames.

No profile picture

It's not essential that I see a picture of someone before I follow them, but having no profile picture or background does indicate a lack of effort and won't help you attract many followers.

No bio

If there's no biographical information, I can't decide whether to follow people or not and, as with the point above, it suggests you aren't that interested in Twitter.

Protected updates

I'm not sure why people do this on Twitter, but how are people supposed to decide whether or not to follow if they can't see what kind of Tweets they can expect from you?

Not posting often enough

If you see a user's profile and they have only posted six times, and the last was two months ago, why would you bother following them? Like blogging you need to Tweet often enough to keep people interested.

You want to help me get rich quick

Twitter seems to attract a lot of these sorts of users, and they often have terrible websites like this:

If you offer a way to make money online, or link to sites like this, there's no way I'll be following.

You describe yourself as a guru or expert

There are a lot of self proclaimed experts on Twitter, especially on the subject of social media. As this post explains, it's probably not a very good idea to describe yourself this way.

They can increase your followers

Anyone who claims to be able to increase your Twitter followers by thousands in a matter of days just sounds like a Twitter spammer, or has been using awful services like TwitterGetter. Either way, I won't be following them.

Following too many people

It's just a numbers game for some people, and many just follow as many as they can just to build up their followers. Following many more people than follow you indicates that you are trying to sell something, or are just desperate. 

Graham Charlton

Published 15 June, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (28)

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Michael D. Hall

The protected updates feature is handy for simulating private Twitter channels. I use them with colleagues for tweeting work related stuff, not exactly Top Secret, but don't necessarily want to broadcast to the world either.

over 7 years ago

Sanjit Chudha

Sanjit Chudha, Integrated Marketing & Communications Consultant at Personal

Spot on Graham - I periodically have a clean out and find that it hasn't harmed the number of people following me hugely, it has improved the quality though and that is the most important thing for me.

over 7 years ago

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Russ

Think you ripped off this guy with this post from early May:

Top 10 Reasons You're Not Being Followed Back on Twitter

http://blog.housemeetsowner.com/top-10-reasons-youre-not-being-followed-back-on-twitter/

over 7 years ago

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Maria Öst

The reason I like Twitter is the possibility to follow who I want and for me that means that I definitely do not need to follow everyone who follows me. That is the beauty of Twitter.

I send a DM to people following me inviting them to interact with me, and if they do and I find their conversation interesting I'll follow them.

over 7 years ago

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Jeff Machado

Yep, this is pretty much the same exact procedure I follow. It's so much more interesting for me to open up Twitter every day and I see content that's relevant to what I'm interested in. Then, I also know that when I submit an article, the people who I'm following and follow me back might actually be interested in it.

Having a large following is good but having a targeted, interested, and interactive following is ideal.

over 7 years ago

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Aneslin

Every points are true.

agreed with all points :)

over 7 years ago

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Shan

I wonder then Why there is so much talk on Twitter! I beleive people loves Twitter...dont they?

over 7 years ago

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Gail Gillespie

Nice to read an article that sets out some sensible guidelines for following. I too try to read the profiles and a few of the tweets as I find some tend to be rather irrelevant.

I follow those who have interesting conversations and have come across some really helpful and informative posts.

I am still learning, but I like Twitter if used well. A recent article in our local newspaper was very scathing...........the person who wrote it had no idea how Twitter worked or could work........so his article was ignorant. I was rather disappointed it had been published.This guy had spent about two days on Twitter.

Like Michelle I am not into the cryptic or the overload. This seems to defeat the purpose for me at least.

Gail

over 7 years ago

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Kate

Hey Graham,

We'd like to invite you to test the new HootSuite 2.0.  The ow.ly bar has some pretty cool features that we think you might be interested in. 

http://blog.hootsuite.com/introducing-owly-social-bar-20-because-sharing-is-caring/

Best,

Kate at Hootsuite dot com

over 7 years ago

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John Scott Cothill

I agree with everything minus the reference to Hootsuite. I've found it by far, one of the best ways to get people to retweet information.

over 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Love the picture of the two sleazeballs leering over a monitor at big $CASH$.

over 7 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

My new rules:

“Fire your followers, hire your friends…”

“If you follow more than a few dozen people at the same time, you are a fraud.”

Think about it... says my friend Jan...

“The number of followers is not a score. It’s a statistic. Like ‘minutes used on your phone plan’ or ‘number of claimed dependents’… With every additional person you ‘follow’ the average ‘attention value per followed person’ decreases.”

source: http://budurl.com/cb47

over 7 years ago

Guy Hatton

Guy Hatton, Director at Clinic

"Reason #1 - Too many tweets"?

As a follower of #Econsultancy you will find the red logo filling up your Twitter window quite quickly. There are some good tweets in there, but the volume can overwhelming when all the automated blog posts kick in.

Is Econsultancy going to take its own advice and cut down on volume? ;)

over 7 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Guy...

SPOT ON.  I greatly respect my colleagues at eConsultancy and it's their property -- not mine.  That stated, "the vanity factor" is in play here.  Remember the wild success of Mybloglog and their successful exit?  In a world filled with businesses "built to sell" (ie. not built for long term revenue or customer/user value sustainability) we can expect these things to be the norm -- not the exception. 

My point is this: eConsultancy is looking to make people flock by its use of Twitter -- and the right bar of this very page is one such way that it believes (rightly I'd bet) that it can leverage the "social vanity" of we humans who like to see ourselves auto-published... and who believe that some terrific (although un-measurable) good will come of our participation (and resulting "publication" in places like the right bar here).

What most don't realize about Twitter is this IMHO:

The value perception of using Twitter is kept high by our disconnection with the true way that people (like ourselves!) use it.  The true value of Twitter is endlessly unknown... and it's best kept that way so far as we're concerned because that supports the perception of high value.

In plain English:

The number of Twitter followers is not a score. It’s a statistic. Like ‘minutes used on your phone plan’ or ‘number of claimed dependents.’

With every additional person you ‘follow’ the average ‘attention value per followed person’ decreases.”

Factor in some common facts -- like how the average follower does not use any real-time tweet monitoring device -- and we see how convenient it is for marketers to get very excitied about how many followers they've managed to corral with such little effort... AND (all the while) believe that there is tremendous value in it based purely on these "votes".  They then translate perceived "votes" into "attentive listeners".  In fact we use the word "followers" -- loyalists!  Right? 

Wrong.  Curious onlookers -- most of which find you rather useless (on average... the average business Tweeter is extremely self-centered) but do not "un-vote."

Consider also how easy it is to follow -- yet how much work it is to un-follow.  Now apply that knowledge.  It translates to "most people that follow me either MISS what I'm saying (due to volume of tweets, no real time monitoring device) or honestly don't have any interest in what I'm saying (because they're too busy to un-follow you and the countless others that followed you -- AFTER YOU SPAMMED THEM using the Twitter system).

Anyway.... :)

over 7 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Guy @Jeff: How many Tweets consitutes too many is, like the list itself, a subjective thing.

I think Econsultancy Tweets about 10-15 times day, which is fine in my book, but that may depend how interesting / relevant you find them. I have seen users posting many more on a daily basis, often in the space of a few minutes, and this is the kind of thing I was referring to.

over 7 years ago

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Dawn Abraham Life Coach

Most of your tips here are great.  For the people that tweet too much that would be only if the tweets are not of value.  Otherwise you can't tweet too much for me.

Dawn

over 7 years ago

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Janet Barclay

I agree with most of your criteria:

  • too many tweets - it's like someone who talks so much you can't hear anyone else
  • protected updates - why would I bother asking for access if I don't even know what you're all about?
  • get rich quick schemes - a definite turnoff -
  • anyone promising to increase followers -> I'm about quality not quantity
  • following too many people - see comment above

I don't mind:

  • not enough tweets - maybe it will take us longer to build a relationship but at least I'll give it a try

I don't consider picture and bio essential, but I am much more likely to follow if I have a good sense of who the Tweeter is.

over 7 years ago

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John Scott Cothill

Guy, I agree with you to a certain extent when it comes to eConsultancy's Twitter. The sea of red is just way too much for me also. But of course, these are our individual views. In other words, what is too much for us, isn't enough for someone else.

Now deleted from my follow list. It doesn't mean eConsultancy has done anything wrong in my eyes, it just doesn't fit too well in my follow list. However; on my RSS feed, you guys fit very well indeed. So there we have it, the important thing is that all bases are covered when it comes to social media interaction/ways to keep up date as 1 size does not fit all.

Jeff, “Fire your followers, hire your friends…” - I also agree. It is what keeps me on Twitter. The randomness of adding hundreds if not thousands in hope to get just that in return just doesn't do it for me.

over 7 years ago

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Bruce Colwin

Great points, with the exception of links containing frames.  After reading your comment, one may put this tweeter in the class of the "get rich quick" tweets, believing they share in ad revenue.

While you mention ads, you neglect to mention that the small header or "toolbar-like" frame up top includes the original post and links to the original tweeter's page and their website, as well as a count on how many people viewed the page.

I use TweetaLink, which does NOT include ads in the frame.  I also also don't recall seeing ads in Hootsuite.

The value to the reader of the tweet is that they can reference the original tweet and follow or view profile information on the tweeter without having to navigate back to the original page.  The trade off less than an 1/2 inch of real estate on top of the viewed page.

Of course the value to the tweeter is clear, in that it increases follows, website views and provides feedback on readers interest in the linked content.

I'd be surprised to learn that anyone unfollowed me because of this.

over 7 years ago

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BILL FORD

WHY DOES TWITTER LIMIT PEOPLE SEARCHES

over 7 years ago

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Michael Babbish

One thing I've noticed with facebook, myspace, livejournal, and twitter is that these social networking websites evolve over time.  I agree it is silly to follow thousands of people if one is using it personally, and I don't understand why some people do it.

I am curious on how twitter will evolve. I am amazed how the internet community has allready rapidly adapted TO twitter, but nonetheless big changes are coming to twitter. How do I know this? Because it happened to every other social networking site out there.

over 7 years ago

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Daniel

great article. thanks guys!

over 7 years ago

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Kristina

If a person has protected updates (which is practical, I should add--unless you're a follower-wh0re) the way I know whether this person is worth following is by checking who they're following. Most likely if the user with the protected updates has quality tweets, they'll follow people that are respectable and not spammers.

about 7 years ago

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Mens Perfume

This a BRAVE post..most SEO Gurus prefer Twitter the most than other Social Networking sites and here you are advising people - reasons not to follow people on Twitter,,infact the reasons you sited are very much thinkable!

over 6 years ago

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Mens Perfume

This a BRAVE post..most SEO Gurus prefer Twitter the most than other Social Networking sites and here you are advising people - reasons not to follow people on Twitter,,infact the reasons you sited are very much thinkable!

over 6 years ago

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Pokrycia Dachowe

Up until now I followed everyone who followed me but you made me think - maybe quantity isn't always the most important?

over 6 years ago

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onit

We are new twitter users so thanks for the tips. We never follow if they have no bio information. If you can not be botherd to add in your info then why would i bother to follow you.

over 5 years ago

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Film izle

Very good and interesting site with very good look and perfect information I like it.

almost 4 years ago

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