5 Reasons They May Stop Following on Twitter

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Last week I wrote a post entitled “5 Reasons They May Not Follow on Twitter” that sparked a great conversation both on this site and on Twitter.

Today we’re going to take a look at the reasons many people unfollow you after you’ve gotten on their list. Though there are many reasons you can’t avoid, such as accounts being closed, people cutting back on their followers or just a general lack of interest, there are at least some reasons why Twitter users unfollow those they once so gleefully accepted.

So, for the past week, I’ve kept track of why I unfollowed the few people I did and, combined with some other research, found some interesting things out.

5. Feeling Misled

Did your “personal” account suddenly become a promotion for your company or have you gone off topic too much lately?

When people follow an account and skim the latest tweets, they usually get an idea of what they think the account is about. If it turns out to be something else, they will likely unfollow it.

Make it clear what your account is about and stay on topic. A few off-topic tweets are fine, just a part of the game, but constantly being off-subject can drive people away. One good tip is to use your face (or some other personal icon) for your avatar on a personal account and your logo for a business one.

If you let people know what to expect from you and stay on topic, they’re much less likely to leave.

4. Said Something Stupid or Offensive

It’s easy to offend people with 140 characters, even on accident. Sometimes trying to fit things into a tweet can cause something to be lost in translation or make an innocent statement seem offensive.

Even if you don’t intend to offend, interjecting yourself into a political discussion can result in a defection from those on the other side. It may be a sign of the sad state of our political dialog, but people tend to unfollow those they disagree with.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t engage in political or controversial conversations on Twitter, just realize that, if you haven’t done it before and start suddenly, you should be ready for mass defections. More importantly, read your tweets back to yourself before you send them out and focus not on what you meant, but how it could be taken.

3. DM Abuse

Though this is less common than it once was, sending an automated (or even human) DM advertisement of any kind immediately after a follow virtually guarantees an unfollow from many Twitter users.

If you have a reason to DM someone after they follow you, make sure they know it’s a personal message and not a junk auto reply. Likewise, automatic @replies are also frowned upon, though they are much less annoying since they don’t generate an email alert.

In short, use your DMs wisely, namely to carry on private conversations outside of the stream, treat every DM as if it were an email because, to most users, that is exactly what it is.

If it is something that can be handled in an @reply, it is best to do so. Abusing DMs is a sure-fire way to get unfollowed.

2. You Don’t Respond

Though no one expects any reasonably active Twitter account to answer every @reply or DM, if people reach out to you repeatedly only to get silence back, they may wonder what the point of following is.

It is important to engage your readers regularly. Reply to their tweets, respond to their replies and join the conversation. If your Twitter account is broadcast-only and it isn’t made clear that’s the intention, people may unfollow you as they learn that you aren’t going to answer back.

1. Too Much Noise

The most common reason I, and most people I talked to, unfollowed other Twitter users is one word: Noise. I currently follow well over 1,600 people but there have been several times I have seen the same person have five tweets or more back-to-back-to-back in my timeline. Likewise, I’ve seen others get 5 tweets out of every 20 and maintain that pace for a few hours.

If your Twitter volume gets far above a few tweets per hour or a few dozen per day, it can get very annoying and very distracting, especially for those who do not follow a large number of people.

Likewise, though @replying is important, sending a lengthy series of them one after another can turn away those not a part of the conversation. Even though @replies are very important for many reasons, it is important to make sure they aren’t the only thing you do.

Bottom Line

When it comes to Twitter, the rules for not driving people away are about the same as the ones in real life, be honest, think before you speak and do everything in moderation. In that regard, Twitter is no different than any other public space.

In the end, it is easy to think that no one reads your tweets or that this one tweet isn’t very important, but the fact is tweets are actually being read (thought not by everyone obviously) and they do have an impact.

If you approach Twitter with respect and humility, you probably won’t have a problem. Try to use it to get what you want at all costs and you might find yourself very lonely. It’s that simple.

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12 Comments

  1. Mark S. Luckie May 7, 2009
  2. Karina Wright May 7, 2009
  3. Angie (Losing It and May 7, 2009
  4. Karina Wright May 7, 2009
  5. Travelwriter May 7, 2009
  6. Kevin Eklund May 7, 2009
  7. John Neyman May 8, 2009
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  12. Patti Stafford May 13, 2009