Why I Don’t Follow You on Twitter

Twitter is an interesting place. I’ve learned a lot, disagreed with a lot, and still don’t care about the number of followers I have. I’m not so big on being followed as I am in finding interesting people.

Twitter does have some guidelines, and one of them seems to be “follow everyone who follows you.” Open the pod bay doors, HAL. I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave.

There are lots of reasons. Twitter is not the Promised Land, it is populated by as many funny, intelligent, insightful people as self-aggrandizing, ego-driven dolts. You pick your company.

So why am I not following everyone who follows me?

1. You make me ask for permission to contact you. It’s Twitter. If you want to live in Rapunzel’s tower, you can. But don’t expect people to follow you if you won’t throw down your hair.

2. You don’t have a bio. I want to get to know the people I deal with. The 140- character limit on Twitter is tight, and makes it hard to learn who you are. If you don’t tell me who you are or put up a link to your website,  my interest wanes faster than a sidewalk water puddle in Phoenix. In August.

3. Your website is a mess of promotions, gimmicks and promises I can’t believe. Too many colors, too many typefaces and sizes, too much hype about making my website “go viral.” You can’t promise me that, and you know it.

4. You make me register–give up personal information–to find out what you do. I already know what you do, you use my personal information to market your business.

5. You DM (direct message) me with a promise of a “free” gift if I just visit your website and click on. . . .[the sound you hear is my feet running away.]

6. I see nothing but self-promotion on your Twitter home page. If your purpose to be on Twitter is to sell, sell, sell, I wish you well. But I’m not following you.

7. You use punctuation marks as a substitute for clear content. Eight exclamation marks do not make you look passionate, they make you look unable to use words well. I follow people who write well, and that’s not you. Yes, you are free to tell me the “rules about good writing are different now.” Not in my book.

9. You tell me you are a ‘genius,’ ‘guru,’ or ‘C-level executive.’ I’m happier with people who work hard. My interest in your self-proclaimed genius is below sea-level.

10. You don’t know who you are. If you list yourself as (really, I saw this one): “Parent of 6, web designer, writer, boudoir photographer, Sunday School teacher, lover of joy, passionate about making websites go viral,  vegetable grower, bookkeeper,  spiritual healer, piano player, rock-wall climber, believer in ‘Happyness’ and have climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on my ‘bucket list,’ –you are too exhausted to post anything on Twitter.  Have a nice day.

You might also want to read: Why I DO Follow you on Twitter, 7 tips that don’t repeat any of the above. (Well, OK, they do mention one of them.)

—Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing.

27 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Follow You on Twitter

  1. I love “I think it’s a girl thing.” To me, the indicate a certain tendency to passive-aggressiveness and a lack of subtle language skills–“Here’s a smiley face, now you can’t be mad at me, even if I called you fat.” Oh, sure I can!

  2. I agree with this also! However, I must admit that I do use ‘smiley faces’ Xs and Os and ! on occasion. I think it’s a girl thing. I don’t feel I overuse them and I only use them with tweeps I know.

    • I used to say that too, until I realized that one person’s inaneness is another’s inspiration. I used to laugh at people posting what they had for lunch, but I’m a foodie, and I kept reading it. It’s how I learned to love fish tacos.

  3. Pingback: Why I DO Follow You on Twitter « QuinnCreative

  4. Thanks for the great tips. Allyour comments echo my thoughts on why people don’t follow us. it’ so very true. Many sell sell and sell. The free gift like you said send us running off. Gr8 help to others who read your tips.
    Have a gr8 day.

  5. Agreed. I tell new users (if they seem sincere rather than spammy) that they need to add profile pics and info then provide us with enough Tweets that we can make an informed decision. Then if the person seems interesting (to me) I’ll follow. If not it’s probably not personal, just a matter of diverging interests.

    I also don’t understand where this notion came about that it is polite to follow everyone back. I wrote about that awhile ago in My Twitter following habits aren’t better than yours; they’re just different. If we wanted to (and could manage) to follow everyone we could just watch the public timeline. Instead I think it’s more appropriate to pick and choose so that we can pay closer attention to those we do end up following.

    • Exactly, it’s not a value judgment on people, it’s a choice I want to make. Oddly enough, I follow people I don’t agree with if they are interesting to me. And interest is in the eye of the beholder. Mercy, If I’d followed everyone who followed me, I’d be following Lolita123 (name changed to protect the innocent), and clicking on her porno links every five minutes. There is a big group of people who follow you and then quit following you if you don’t follow back within the hour. Nope, I’m wading in with discernment.

    • As a coach, I believe people are doing the best they can–today. What’s “best” today, however, might not work for tomorrow at all.
      I know a lot of people who don’t have Twitter down– I was one of them. No problem. But people who offer me porn and other unwanted ‘gifts’ are people I choose not to spend time with, so I can spend more time with people who have ideas, plans, and imagination.

  6. Nah, I follow anybody, and I don’t check their profiles. It costs nothing, it seems to make some people happy, and some of them, surprisingly enough, have something interesting to say. Twitter is about jumping into the river, not testing with your toe.

      • My approach is to follow everybody, then unfollow whoever’s just a marketing-bot. What baffles me is how much time some people seem to have to devote to Twitter — I can sign on almost any day/any time and see some of the same people posting! (I have not, by the way, installed any mobile twitter clients! 🙂

        • I do check who they are before I follow back, and don’t follow people who are obvious “marketing gurus.” But you are right, I’m astonished by how many people seem to think this is family. I don’t mean friends, I mean family. And I haven’t put it on my iPhone, either.

  7. Oy! I swear I didn’t choose that winky sun-shiny gremlin. But what the heck, let the winks fall where they may.

  8. How does one “follow” a post like that!? Bravo. I will always do my best to stay on your good side, Q. Now, which side was that? 😉

  9. Love it! I stay completely away from Twitter. If people thought MySpace was a pile of garbage, Twitter is a landfill.

  10. Whoa. Great minds apparently think alike. I wrote a similar post several months ago and had many of the same points. I’m also extremely irked by the self-labeled “gurus” and “experts.”

    While a lot of people think you MUST follow whoever follows you, there is no rule that says so. Anyone who thinks that is missing the point of Twitter.

    Anyway, good post. Maybe if we all keep blogging the same thing, they’ll catch on.

    Or not.

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