14 Reasons I Won’t Follow You On Twitter [Revisited]

by Meg Guiseppi on February 2, 2010

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With a sudden flurry of tweets and blog comments for my original post of the same name over at my Executive Resume Branding blog, I decided to take a second look at my “won’t follow” criteria four months later.

Let me first say that these are not hard and fast rules that I even follow myself all the time, so I don’t mean to imply that you should adhere to any of them.

Follow people based upon your own goals for communicating your personal brand and leveraging Twitter. If it’s important to you to have a huge following, then by all means follow back everyone who follows you and follow anyone new you come across.

But, if you feel you should be selective, consider my criteria to prompt your own list, depending upon your own purposes with Twitter.

Here’s my somewhat revised list of things that will keep me from following you, along with a few caveats and thoughts, followed by recent contributions from readers in their blog comments on the original post:

1. You have no photo.

Personal branding is about creating emotional connections. People are drawn more to tweets that are accompanied by the author’s photo. And a photo helps me know you’re a real person.

Don’t worry if you’re not good-looking. Like most people, I won’t judge you by how handsome or pretty you are. Choose an appealing photo that strikes the right image and professional tone for your industry and niche.

When it comes down to it, even a poor quality photo of yourself is better than none.

2.  You have no Twitter bio.

How can I know who you are, what you have to offer, and whether we may be able to help each other?

I have to admit though, that I will follow people without photos or a bio, based upon the company they keep. If you’re following a lot of people I know and respect, who are in my sphere, I’ll probably follow you anyway.

3.  Your bio and tweets are loaded with glaring typos or grammatical errors or don’t make sense to me.

I do make allowances sometimes though, especially if it appears that English is not your first language.

4.  Your bio is loaded with unrealistic claims about yourself or your company.

The tweets of these Tweeple usually follow suit, with promises of making easy cash, getting whiter teeth in minutes, etc. YAWN!

5.  Your profile has no link to further info about you.

I want to know who you are and if you’re legitimate.

6.  Your tweets are mostly chit chat that doesn’t interest me, or teach me anything, or inspire me.

Another big YAWN! But that’s just me. I know lots of people who do very well meeting their own Twitter goals and connecting with lots of people in this way.

7.  Your tweets consistently pound me with self-promoting blog posts and information.

If you have to talk about yourself all the time, you’re probably not that great.

8.  I really don’t like your politics.

I generally shy away from politics all together on social networks, except if it’s an issue very near and dear to my heart.

9.  Your niche and tweets are completely unrelated to mine.

I usually stay within my own sphere. But I’ll pretty much follow anyone who RTs me, especially if it’s a blog post I’ve written. I greatly appreciate it when people take the time to read (hopefully!) my posts and RT me. Heck, just like everyone else, I love a pat on the back.

10.  Your tweets tell me over and over that I can get 1,000 new Twitter followers a day if I follow your simple rules or buy something from you.

I doubt that the people you’re going to help me find are those I want to have follow me.

11.  You haven’t tweeted in, say, over a month or so.

This isn’t terribly important, but I have to wonder about you. And I can’t get much of a feel for who you are with such infrequent tweets.

A big exception to this is if you’re someone who’s obviously struggling with getting a handle on Twitter and you’ve just started following me. I figure, maybe watching someone like me, who’s fairly active on Twitter, will be encouraging and help you get a feel for what you can do with Twitter.

12.  You follow and are followed by hundreds or thousands, but you’ve only tweeted maybe a dozen times all together.

This is suspect to me. You’re not using Twitter the way I do, so we’re probably not a good follow fit.

13.  Your profile in any way smacks of spam, pornography, violence, or anything against my sensibilities.

I don’t care if you RT every one of my tweets, I’m not interested in aligning myself with you or your world.

14. A lot of the people you follow are shady, as in #13.

I do pay attention to the company you keep. Following these kinds of Tweeple means that you follow back everyone who follows you, or you practice that kind of tweeting yourself, or both.

And here are suggestions for criteria from some of my readers, preceded by their Twitter handles, so you can follow them on Twitter:

@HeidiSiefkas — Tweets that say “take this X quiz, I did.”

@kayross — I’ve seen lots of people suggest that we “should” follow back everyone who follows us, because that’s “polite”. If I’m followed by spambots, wannabe porn-stars, idiots, time-wasters, pushy hard-sellers etc., I don’t feel at all obliged tofollow them back. And I don’t follow people who tweet nothing but inspiring quotes by other people.

@JoePritchard — If you can’t type anything without text-speechor teen-speak. English works well, even within 140 characters, text-speech or teen-speak used in excess just results in gibberish. Oh..and for me….and I know it sounds snobbish and ageist…I’m the wrong side of 45. I’m rarely going to follow anyone on teh young side of 20 because although you’re probably very nice people I’ll probably share little in common! :-)

@amandarykoff — If your entire Twitter feed consists of links back to your blog, I won’t follow you. Twitter is about engagement and communication. Simply linking to your blog does not promote either.

What are your Twitter “won’t-follow” criteria?

Related posts:

Twitter Turbocharges Executive Job Search and Personal Brand Visibility

Twitter Personal Branding Strategy — The Beauty of a Re-Tweet

Compilation of Twitter posts: Twitter Help and Strategies for Executive Job Search and Personal Branding

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi February 25, 2013 at 10:56 am

Hi David,

I’m very flattered that you’ve included this post, and another one of mine, on your Education Paragon Wiki pages. Thanks so much! I hope your students and associates find them helpful.

I’ve just written a new blog post about the excellent resources included on your Wiki pages, How to Use Twitter: Multiple Resources — http://executivecareerbrand.com/how-to-use-twitter-multiple-resources/

I hope you’ll check it out. Thanks again!

Best,
Meg

2 Meg Guiseppi February 25, 2013 at 9:56 am

Thanks for commenting, Sue.

I can see that you have a clear understanding of how you want to use Twitter, and who to follow. You seem to lean more toward using it for personal reasons, rather than business, which is more to my purpose. I’m more interested in relevant business-talk, and not so interested in personal banter, back and forth — I mostly don’t have time for it. And that’s all okay. That’s the beauty of Twitter. Everyone can have their own agenda, and tweet up with the people they like.

I’ve found over the four or five years I’ve been on Twitter that my “rules” for following are ever-changing. I’ll now follow some people I wouldn’t have when I wrote this post. And sometimes the rules don’t apply at all!

3 David Spencer's Education Paragon February 23, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Hi Meg,

Thanks for keeping your post updated with smart reasons for not following certain people on Twitter. We are sharing your ideas with other educators across Canada.

We have added your post “14 Reasons I Won’t Follow You On Twitter” to our wiki David Spencer’s Education Paragon at http://education.davidspencer.ca/wiki/Twitter

4 Sue Lyn February 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I dont mind not having a photo,if you talk to me and I get to know you personally thats not really an issue. I agree on not following if ppl just dont tweet what your interested in. I like my Time Line to be enjoyable. I have interest in ppl and the things they are into so I’m not really stuck to any one niche,but if you dont converse with me chances are I wont continue to follow you unless I just enjoy your tweets. I also dont follow ppl that are all business. I need to know you on a personal level. I dont want to see similar tweets promoting your stuff. These are great guidelines though thinks for the tips…I myself have to go thru on occasion and remind myself of my own rules.

5 Meg Guiseppi October 6, 2011 at 10:29 am

Evandro,

Thanks for your comment. I sometimes hesitate following people tweeting in a different language than English, but if I get the sense that what they say is consistent with their brand, and they seem to be someone I want to align with, I usually will follow them.

6 Evandro October 6, 2011 at 7:57 am

Hi,
I agree with in most aspects, but as Ivan said, some of us are not English native speakers, I do tweet in Portuguese, my mother tongue, sometimes in Spanish, but mostly in English. Even so, I follow people from all those languages and have followers from those different languages as well.
The most I like about twitter is the possibility to find people with something interest to say, regardless of subject.
Thx for this great post.

7 Meg Guiseppi April 4, 2011 at 10:08 am

I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Irene.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Twitter! I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Just keep at it.

Check out this post for some ideas:

Twitter Executive Branding Strategy: The Beauty of a Retweet — http://executivecareerbrand.com/twitter-executive-branding-strategy-the-beauty-of-a-retweet/

Happy tweets!
Meg

8 Irene Vernardis April 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Very interesting post with logical reasons. And logic appeals to me.

Quote: “If you have to talk about yourself all the time, you’re probably not that great.” I liked this very much too, it made me laugh. Also, the notion “social mediarrhoea” mentioned in Maarten van Rijn’s comment, is a very interesting one.

I’m new to Twitter, just one week. I’m reading articles on how to use Twitter. I think that what to tweet and how to tweet it, is a matter of common sense, as all the ways of communicating, and one rule: don’t do to others what you don’t like be done to you.
I’m still confused about hashtags and while thanking people who use my name in a tweet with them, I inform that I have no idea in which way they are used. I might know what the abbreviation means, but not how is used.

The only thing that bothers me on twitter is the limited 140 characters. I don’t like “killing” syntax or words. Also, I wanted to tweet a famous quote of an ancient philosopher, and due to 250 characters involved I put it in 2 consecutive tweets with a “-“. But the result was that only my 2nd tweet to be re-tweeted by someone, just because it had 1 word which suited them, providing a completely opposite message than the whole quote (in accordance with your #13 & #14 reasons). I blocked them and deleted both my tweets, although it bothered me I had to.

Thank you very much for your post. :)

9 Meg Guiseppi October 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I appreciate your comment, Germán. I’m not someone who worries about having a huge following either.

Best,
Meg

10 Germán Cárdenas October 7, 2010 at 12:05 am

True, true! quality vs. quantity!

11 Meg Guiseppi August 4, 2010 at 6:25 am

Hi Maarten,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, and welcome to Twitter!

Everyone has their own purpose for tweeting, and they leverage different kinds of strategies. Some may feel that a daily flood of impersonal tweets will gain them lots of followers and attention, and that may be their Twitter purpose. That’s all fine, but we don’t have to follow them, right? Or we can unfollow once we’re onto them. The beauty of unfollowing someone is that they will probably never know you did it.

Like you, I get tired of people reiterating the same tweets endlessly through the various apps they use. I think they forget (or don’t care) that they’re annoying those of us who are paying attention to their Twitter streams.

Speaking of strategy, you may find a post of mine useful, Twitter Personal Branding Strategy — The Beauty of a Re-Tweet — http://executiveresumebranding.com/twitter-personal-branding-strategy-%e2%80%94-the-beauty-of-a-re-tweet/. You can gain a LOT of ground through just re-tweeting.

I hope you continue to enjoy Twitter, as I do. I’ve “stumbled across” many, many interesting and inspiring people who have now become “virtual” friends and colleagues.

Ciao!
Meg

12 Maarten van Rijn August 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Hi Meg, I love the way to connect with and respond to everybody that replies – chapeau. I’m fairly new to twitter (5 weeks active now) and use it in a combination professional/personal. The people I know and follow are mainly professional contacts. The others – I don’t know personally – are inspiring people I’ve ‘stumbled across’ and liked their tweets.

There’s one big reason for me to not follow, but also to un-follow, un-friend, un-… people and that’s “social mediarrhoea”.
Up to 40-60 postings or tweets a day, not sharing passion, enthusiasm or anything – just adding links or RT-ing others. In certain circles people interlink all social media platforms so their tweets/posts/status/updates/feeds are visible on twitter, LinkedIn, facebook, Ecademy, myspace, friendfeed etc. If I’m connected to them on more than one platform, I’ll see their messages over-and-over. This blurring out the people I really want to follow, who I care about.
Sometimes even app’s like gowalla, foursquare are interlinked so you’ll see ‘they’re eating ice cream here’, 10 min’s later ‘having latte’s over there’ etc. Multiplied by the number of platforms they are on.

Sociale Mediarrhoea is a real “turn-me-off”. I decided to un-follow un-etc. about 10 professional contacts on different platforms already. In my opinion this is executing real and true democracy: ‘voting by following, but by un-following also’. It’s like instant feed-back.

The other issue on language is a difficult one. I’m Dutch and English is my first foreign language. My client base is part international, but the biggest share is Dutch. I started tweeting – in English – when working with an international group. Not all my Dutch colleagues, clients and their staff are fluent in English. Dilemma …

Ciao, Maarten

13 Meg Guiseppi August 2, 2010 at 6:16 am

Thanks for commenting, Gabriella. I surely appreciate you taking the time to “C” here.

Your observations and complaints are spot on.

Those who don’t respond when we reach out to them on Twitter with a bit of conversation get under my skin too. Maybe they’re so anxious to move on to the next shiny object, that they neglect to dawdle a bit and engage on a more personal level.

The lack of common courtesy and Twitiquette is sometimes astounding. What really gets me is when people I don’t know at all DM me asking for advice on their job search or resume writing. I take the time to DM them back with the best answer I can muster within a 140-character tweet, and I never hear back from them. Not even a simple “Thank you”.

It’s all so discouraging, isn’t it?

I don’t generally go as far as you do — unfollowing those who don’t get with the “C” imperative — because I suspect I’d be unfollowing people left and right!

I bet you were wondering if I’d respond to your comment ;-)

Ciao!
Meg

14 Gabriella August 1, 2010 at 6:28 am

Great insight Thanks Meg :) I would add a few of my own. What I have noticed in the past year of actively using Twitter is the “C” word. No connection. I’m not saying we have to become best friends but, every once in a while it would be nice to get a response from people. That’s not to say I expect full on conversation. That would be boring we can always take it elsewhere but on Twitter I have noticed I ask questions relating to a link they posted with no response/comment/nothing. So I have started un-following people if there is no “C”.

I enjoy reading links people share I have even gone to the post and commented. Maybe, I expect too much but a RT every so often would be nice too. It seems there are certain people that belong to a RT club and only RT that groups links. It has become apparent to me they are only promoting themselves. I like helping out the small guys the ones that ask for a RT nicely.. They are always worth taking a look and helping. That’s just me though.

15 Meg Guiseppi July 28, 2010 at 8:01 am

Jim, you’ve absolutely made my day! Thanks for letting me know my little rant hit home with you, and for tweeting the snippet.

By the way, I love the way you’ve branded your Rare Bird site. Beautifully done!

16 Meg Guiseppi July 28, 2010 at 8:00 am

G, thanks for commenting.

I agree that the number of followers isn’t terribly important. I have over 4,000 followers — a respectable enough number in my mind — but it took over a year to get there, because my goal was not about building the number.

But to some people, that’s an important metric, and that’s perfectly fine. Although I think to some degree we are assessed based on our following/followed numbers, I’d still rather be selective about who is in my Twitter tribe.

17 Jim Cota July 27, 2010 at 8:18 pm

This is, perhaps, the best thing I’ve ever heard anyone say about Twitter (and social media in general):

“If you have to talk about yourself all the time, you’re probably not that great.”

Love it!

/Jim

@jimcota

18 G July 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Does it really matter how many followers you have? Twitter is for sharing information not just following people. Numbers don’t mean anything unless they are useful.

For example: #teamfollowback – Why is this here? What is it’s purpose? To tell everyone you have X amount of followers?
(I hate these with a passion)

I waste my fair share on twitter. But to read a timeline that only says “#follow so-and-so” is an even bigger waste of time.

19 Meg Guiseppi July 27, 2010 at 7:51 am

Ivan, unfortunately, the fact that you’re tweeting sometimes in Serbian may very well be turning off some potential English-speaking followers.

It’s not fair, but they may decide not to follow you because they don’t know what it is you’re saying in Serbian, and they’re concerned that those tweets aren’t consistent with your English tweets. I’m not sure how you can remedy this as long as you tweet in both languages.

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked my post.

20 Meg Guiseppi July 27, 2010 at 7:44 am

Kari, you bring up an important point. It’s critical for the link in your Twitter bio to lead to a web page that everyone can access. Facebook may not be a good choice. For instance, I counsel my clients to use their Google Profile instead of LinkedIn profile (if they don’t have a personal website), because no membership is involved. Anyone can view your Google Profile.

Thanks for commenting.

21 Meg Guiseppi July 27, 2010 at 7:33 am

Chris,

I’m right with you about quality vs. quantity. And I always steer clear of those who are all about getting you lots of followers. Not the kind of people I’m interested in communicating with.

Thanks for your comment.

22 Ivan Ćosić July 27, 2010 at 3:22 am

I like the post very much, and that’s something that I have along the lines of some of my rules for follow/followback.

But I have one big dilemma in my mind. I am from Serbia. I tweet in both Serbian and English. I do not want to tweet in English for local related stuff, it’s kinda stupid, and I don’t want to lose ability to connect with people abroad. So I tweet in both languages and hope that my English speaking followers don’t mind. But I still think that many people are not following me because they see some tweets they don’t understand.

23 @karifur July 27, 2010 at 12:38 am

If every single tweet links back to your Facebook page, I generally unfollow. If I wanted to read your Facebook updates, I would follow you on facebook. And believer it or not, there are still some people of Twitter who don’t use Facebook and therefore can’t view many of those links (my husband is one of them.) Make your tweets relevant to your Twitter readers, and take the extra few seconds to post directly to Twitter.

24 Chris LW July 27, 2010 at 12:16 am

Fully agree with this list. I’m not against promoting a business with Twitter, as I’m trying to do the same with its own account. However, I make it a point to not ram my business down people’s throats. Also, with the promises of “you’ll get lots of followers!” I believe in quality followers, not quantity. It’s not a competition.

25 Meg Guiseppi July 23, 2010 at 3:29 am

Hi Joe,

Thanks for commenting and taking time to read some of my other posts. I’m SO glad my site has been helpful.

Please don’t take my “14 Reasons” as gospel — just a general guideline. I go back and forth on these things all the time.

If you haven’t already seen it, another Twitter post that may be helpful is Twitter Turbocharges Executive Job Search and Personal Brand Visibility — http://executivecareerbrand.com/twitter-turbocharges-executive-job-search-and-personal-brand-visibility/

Ciao!
Meg

26 Joe Spencer July 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Meg,

Thank you for your generous information. I am reading as much of your content as possible tonight. Great primer!

I have put some of your suggestions to use already.

Joe

27 Meg Guiseppi February 11, 2010 at 5:58 am

Hi Mike,

Thanks so much for your very kind comments. How nice of you to devote a post to my redux!

Your 3 additions to my list of 14 are spot-on. I’m right with you on each one.

Best,
Meg

28 Mike Johansson February 10, 2010 at 5:33 am

Meg I loved the original post and this is better! I liked it so much I decided to add my own three additional reasons and blog about it here (http://bit.ly/cm8d1z) giving you all the credit for spurring my thoughts on this. Thanks for a great post and post redux!

29 Meg Guiseppi February 4, 2010 at 7:28 am

Thanks for your comments, Walt.

I should have re-thought the one about political leanings. My statement is a bit vague.

Like you, I appreciate and follow people who take a strong stand on big issues, even though they may not be ones I support.

You clarified it much better by saying you won’t follow those who “force-feed their world-view down my throat based on emotional rants, fear-mongering, and lame thinking”.

I’m right with you there!

Hey, thanks for the follow. I hope you find my tweets of value.

Best,
Meg

30 Walt Goshert February 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Thanks for this Twitter Follow Manifesto.

As a result, I immediately Followed you.

Hope I agree with your politics…

That’s the only place I differ with your thinking…

I’m actually more inclined to follow people who do hold and express strong political feelings.
I’m personally not offended from thoughts from either the right or the left.

I am impressed with folks who can take a stand and express their thinking based upon facts and logic. Twitter forces clear and concise expression of thought. Problem solvers are quickly revealed. I respect people who’ve mastered the art of give and take and consensus-building.

Now, if someone is trying to force-feed their world-view down my throat based on emotional rants, fear-mongering, and lame thinking, I agree with you… they don’t have a voice in my Twitter stream.

31 Meg Guiseppi February 3, 2010 at 6:01 am

Thanks, Jeff.

Good idea to reconsider how best to leverage Twitter for whatever your goals are. Working from a Twitter strategy will save you time and allow you to get the most value from it.

Best,
Meg

32 Jeff Shepherd February 2, 2010 at 9:33 am

Very nice write up! I’m new to twitter and was sent your article from one of your followers. I started a twitter because of so many of the iPad giveaways, but now see that might not be the best thing to do with my account. Thanks for the advice!

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