Why I’m not going to follow you on Twitter

Why I’m not going to follow you on Twitter

A couple of days ago, I posted my thoughts on why Twitter isn’t the catch-all ultimate social network some marketers and the media would have us believe. Twitter just isn’t for everyone.

Of course, there is way more to say on the topic, especially when it comes to “follow you, follow me” behaviour, as was raised in the comments. I was going to produce a detailed answer to the question of whether mass-following Twitter users is a good or bad idea, but there is no way my post could come close to bettering the excellent article Twitter Marketing: Why You Don’t Need to Mass Follow Users by Dosh Dosh (follow).

It’s not about the follower count, its about conversions.
A carefully cultivated list of 1000 followers can beat a list of 10,000 Twitter followers anytime when it comes to spreading content or getting
traffic/sales. A social media strategy that only involves mass following all sorts of people and shooting out links in order to hook
buyers or readers is quite inadequate.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I didn’t.

It is true that, particularly among new Twitter users, there is a belief that following people back who follow you is simply good manners – “Twitter etiquette”. But it won’t be long before your Twitter stream becomes choked and diluted with irrelevance, spam and inanity. Suddenly, finding the quality tweets of relevance to you is like panning for gold dust in a fast-moving stream of trivia and spam.

I do still follow some people in the hope that they’ll follow me back, but only those who have a strong chance of contributing to the ‘hive mind’ of my Twitter stream. I might follow other Australian writers or marketing bloggers or perform a search for those people who regularly retweet my content. I sometimes use Tweepsearch to find those Twitter users most likely to be of direct interest to me and with whom I would benefit from networking. Not all follow me back, but those that do are far more valuable to me – and, hopefully, I to them.

Everyday, I receive a large number of new Twitter followers. Most don’t get followed back. Accounts most likely to be ignored include those;

  • with less than one or two tweets. Not giving me much to go one, are you.
  • without a bio. Why should I follow you if I don’t know who you are?
  • without an avatar. If you can’t be bothered to upload an avatar to improve your Twitter account, I’m not expecting quality tweets.
  • that promises to make me money, claims to be an online entrepreneur, contain dollar signs in the avatar, or otherwise indicate that I am a ‘prospect’ rather than a contemporary.
  • where the update history indicates that they very rarely reply to others or interact with the @ symbol and merely tweet one-sided posts promoting themselves or their business.
  • that predominantly post in another language. Yeah, why are you following me? You can’t even understand me!
  • that regularly put out tweets offering a sure-fire way to be big on Twitter. I don’t need your help.
  • where they have clearly followed the maximum 1000 people Twitter allows each day and has only just opened the account. If following to the limit was the first action you took on Twitter, rather than engaging in conversation or tweeting, then I already know where your priorities are.
  • where they can’t even spell their username correctly. I swear, I was followed by an account called “weath_builder” or something similar the other day. You’re not going to build much “weath” that way and you certainly won’t convince me that you can help me make money.

In short, treat users like genuine people and not just numbers to pump up your stats. No one is impressed by follow numbers these days. Sure, you may have 25,000 followers, but that only says that you can click ‘follow’ enough times to trigger enough automated ‘follow-back’ systems or enough newbies being polite. It just isn’t that hard anymore. Far better to work on improving your influence score with Twitalyzer or – even better – not worrying about stats altogether and simply working on providing and sharing good content with those people that matter.

Believe it or not, simply focussing on providing quality tweets is still the best way to build active, valuable followers.


  1. I concur with this completely
    I went through a stage when I got into Twitter heavily where I thought I just wanted a heap more followers, in the quickest time possible.
    Most of the followers I got were of no value to me, or what i was trying to achieve, and any posts I put out there were not being seen by the right people, if they were even being read at all.
    Being Social on Social Networking websites is not about ‘Following’ someone, its the actual interaction. Without the interaction, you are just another notch on the belt.

  2. Andrew Johns says

    Surprising really but I’d have thought it’s just common sense. Your approach on who to follow or have follow you is the same principle as internet links, and perhaps even life in general. Namely, quality over quantity.
    We’re on twitter, but it’s going to be a while before we get a large number of followers (if we ever manage that) simply because we’ve not gone out out of our way to find followers for the sake of it, and probably don’t intend to, because we don’t see the benefit in it.
    When we’re less busy we’ll actually take a look around, see who the sensible people are with something useful to say, before we consider following, but having stumbled upon this post via an associate, I think I’ll make an exception and add you now while I remember!

  3. I agree – this highlights the classic case of people thinking that on-line social networks differ in any fundamental way from off-line social networks.
    Human relationship etiquette applies to any form relationship be it on-line or off and I do not understand the “hello darlin’ fancy a shag” approach that people seem to think will work over the Internet.
    Sorry got to go, someone in Lagos has a fantastic offer for me to invest in.

  4. Couldn’t have said it better Jonathan!
    Have gone through my phases of having several followers, which I have weeded out a couple of times.
    James is right it’s about connecting etc. Quality v.Quantity. I know you have to some of both, understand ranking, branding,etc.