Why You're Probably Not Following Me Back On Twitter

About a month ago I wrote a post on why I'm probably not following you back on Twitter. The major reasons were these:

  1. You're an egg
  2. Your bio is incomplete or full of a bunch of hashtag or shortened link nonsense
  3. Your Twitter stream is chock full of sell, sell, sell
  4. You are a retweeting machine
  5. You are a "social media expert"
  6. You're having a multi-way conversation with your buds
  7. Don't try to sell me something or direct me to your blog, web site, or eBook via an auto-DM
  8. You've got a zillion followers but you're only following back a hundred people

I thought I'd turn that around and make the opposite conjecture: Why you're not following me back on Twitter. Here goes.

1. I don’t only tweet about one thing.

I know some people maintain a singular focus on Twitter. Their “thing” might be sports, writing, tech, or finance. I actually tweet about all of those things and occasionally more. If you’re someone following me because you’re a fellow writer or a reader of my novels and I suddenly barrage you with baseball tweets (like I did during the playoffs and World Series when my San Francisco Giants won it all), then you might have unfollowed me. I can’t help it if I’m representing myself as a real person. Real people have many interests, so that’s what you get when you follow me.

2. You don’t agree with my politics

By this I mean any of those generally “taboo in the workplace” sorts of subjects like politics, religion, social views, etc. While I generally do not tweet topics related to these, sometimes one slips out. For example, someone recently tweeted something about gun control. This is one of those hot button issues here in the United States. People are typically on one side or the other with not much in between. I imagine my response to this person put off some people and maybe I lost some followers because of it. I know I’m not following that person anymore.

3. You got tired of the “sell, sell, sell”

For a little while there my feed turned into one product sales announcement after another. I still tweet out these things or direct thousands of Twitter followers to new posts on my blog, but I try to keep it toned down and, at worst, at least interspersed amongst other information.

4. I tweet or retweet too much

I don’t think I actually tweet that much, though I’ve been on the service for a while now and so I’m at around 16,000 tweets total. I tend to hit people in the morning and late evening. In between I’m working and actually find Twitter to be too much of a distraction.

5. I don’t tweet or retweet enough

Now this I agree with. Why it would make people not follow me, I’ve no idea. Taken with the next one, though…

6. I don’t engage my followers

I’m very much of the tweet it and move on mentality. I don’t put questions or information out expecting replies or answers. I’m kind of this way on my blog as well. This is probably an area I could work on.

7. I don’t reciprocate enough

I’m trying to be a good Twitter citizen by returning the RT love and such but I think in the past maybe I wasn’t too good with this. In fact, now I actively keep track of certain individuals just so I can return the favor more because they’ve been nice enough to help me out with a RT of my own stuff here and there.

I’m sure there’s more reasons but why dwell on my failures? Let’s stay focused on the positive and sharing good information.

Why I'm Probably Not Following You Back on Twitter

When someone follows me on Twitter I want to follow them back. But I don't always do so. Here's a few reasons why.

1. You're an egg

When someone sets up a new Twitter account the default avatar is an egg. The egg isn't there for long on most (legitimate) accounts, so it's a pretty sure bet that when a follower's avatar is still eggified that account is a spam account. When I see the egg, I don't follow back. I like to know there's a real person behind the Twitter account. Having a non-egg avatar is a good first step in determining this.

2. Your bio is incomplete or full of a bunch of hashtag or shortened link nonsense

Again, I like to see that I'm following back a real person who is making an honest effort on Twitter. Your bio can be short, it can be long, but it should tell me something about yourself. A bio full of hashtags… why, why, why? You can't see me, but I'm shaking my head just thinking about it. Same goes for people who jam 4 different shortened links into their bio. Sorry, but I'm not going to click on something with a bunch of nonsense characters in it, especially when I don't know you.

3. Your Twitter stream is chock full of sell, sell, sell

A big part of Twitter is reciprocation. When I follow someone, it's because I've scanned their tweet stream and either been amused, entertained, or informed. If when I scan a tweet stream all I see are messages selling something—anything, really—you've just earned a no follow back from me. Indie writers are the worst about this. I sympathize with you all—I've got a couple of books to sell, too—but when my "All Friends" feed on TweetDeck is full of nothing but people selling, that starts to earn "no follow's".

4. You are a retweeting machine

Retweets are fine with me. But like many indulgences, moderation is important. When I see someone's stream is nothing but RT's, most of which are trying to sell something, I pass on following back.

5. You are a "social media expert"

Excuse me, but WTF is a 'social media expert'? That's a rhetorical question which I really don't want to know the answer to, by the way. Social media expert = go away, please.

6. You're having a multi-way conversation with your buds

I see this amongst the tech circles more so than elsewhere. Really, guys, get a (digital) room or pick up the phone. This doesn't usually garner an unfollow or 'no follow,' but it comes close sometimes.

7. Don't try to sell me something or direct me to your blog, web site, or eBook via an auto-DM

When I follow someone back I'm fine with someone thanking me via an auto direct message. But not when it exists solely to tell me about something I don't want to buy. Following someone is about initiating a relationship. Exercise some tact and don't try to jam something down my throat before we've even had a chance to exchange pleasantries.

8. You've got a zillion followers but you're only following back a hundred people

This is rude. People find you interesting enough to follow. Give at least some of them some consideration and follow them back. The other way this happens is someone will follow, follow, follow. Then when those people start following them back the person unfollows, unfollows, unfollows. I guess it makes people feel important when they have a ton of Twitter followers and only follow a few back. Whatever, loser.

You'll notice I didn't call out any individuals above. I'm not pointing fingers, especially since I know I've been guilty of a few of those points myself. But I've moved on from, say, making my Twitter feed all about selling my eBooks. I get a lot of useful information from my followers and try to reciprocate as best I can. The key to success on getting a follow back from me (and most people, I think) is that old adage: just be yourself.

Twitter: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

twitter_logoAs I write this, Twitter is dead. Not just down with the usual overusage whale or twittery bird, but completely dead as in their home page won't even come up.

This begs the question of how useful the service really is when it seems to spend so much time being down instead of up. Over on Men with Pens, there's a lengthy discussion going on about just that subject.

I've been using Twitter since my initial post about how I didn't get it. I like it well enough now. I don't use it all the time or even every day, but it was recently #2 on my list of driving traffic to my site (it only recently fell to #3 behind StumbleUpon), so in that respect it's been a boon. I also like the quick interaction it provides with others. However, when it's down, it's down, and not of much use to anyone.

One solution for when Twitter is down and you still want to twit is Twiddict. Think of Twiddict as an offline version of Twitter. Ahhh, maybe that's not the best way to describe it, but Twiddict queues your twits for you until the Twitter service comes back up. Then, when Twitter decides to come back up, it shoots them over. I've just tried using the service, so I can't attest to it's reliability, but it's a good idea and certainly interesting how niche apps crop up to fill gaps created by other applications or services.

Twitter Revisited

Last week I blogged about how I just didn't get Twitter. To put it plainly, I didn't see the point.

As I write this now, I have to retract my initial opinion at least partially. I'm still not 100% convinced it's the next best social medium, but I'm coming around. I started tweeting since I wrote that last post about Twitter and, I have to say, I'm marginally hooked.

Is it fun? Yeah, a little. Exciting? Ah, not really. Interesting? Yeah, it is actually. Informative, too, because people aren't telling me about what they had for lunch, they're passing out links to useful software information, tips on how to make better use of Twitter, and there's this guy who does inning-by-inning updates of the San Francisco Giants games (I've been a Giants fan for about 30 years now).

My advice: don't be like me--don't knock Twitter until you've tried it.

If you've already jumped on the Twitter Bandwagon or are just getting started, you can follow me here. I can't guarantee I'll be nearly as interesting as some others, but who knows--maybe I'm under-rating myself.

Happy Tweeting.

I don't get Twitter

8/3/08 Update: OK, OK. Since having written this post, I think I've "gotten" Twitter. In fact, I'm on it and loving it. Follow me if you want.

I follow a number of professional bloggers who give various forms of advice regarding social interaction, driving people to your site, and just having a presence. Outlets such as MySpace or Facebook (which I don't really use but given how slow and obnoxious MySpace can be I'm thinking of using my account more) are great, but they're fairly static. Sure, they allow you to make comments or write blog entries, but those entries are meant to exist for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years and longer. In the case of blog entries, brevity is not always paramount.

Enter Twitter.

You have just 140 words to tell the world what you're doing, thinking, make a comment on something important or silly, or just about anything else. Though there is a word limit per 'twit', you can make such comments as often as you like throughout any given day. In fact, people do. And others follow. I suppose Twitters have some wonderful conversations, twitting back and forth to their heart's content.

I just have one question: How do so many people have time for such nonsense?

Clearly, I'm not "getting it". I'm more than willing to hear an explanation, though. Convince me otherwise. I would say twitting is a lot of derogatory things, but there's so many notable people doing it I can't help but feel that by not getting it I'm missing out on something big. But like drugs in high school, I never saw the point, thus I never got involved in that scene. Ditto to Twitter.

I did create myself a Twitter account a while back (cause I wanted to see what it was all about), and I've tried twitting a twit or two. But it wasn't doing much for me. Anyway, if you want to 'follow' me, here's the page. Maybe I'll change my mind someday and become a 'professional twit'. Or maybe I'll just continue being just a 'twit'.