I follow a few hundred local Cape Codders on Twitter to give me a sense of what is happening in my geographical region (something I can’t get via the web/newspaper). By and large most of the Twitter streams that I see are a good mix of personal notes, self promotion and other random subjects. What I also see from watching this stream pass me by daily are trends of behavior that cause me to go out of my way to unfollow the offending users.
Which led me to create this quick list of 11 easy ways to piss your Twitter followers off and possibly cause them to stop following you no matter how interesting or popular you may be.
1. Blah, Blah, Blah
This one might be met with some backlash from the true hardcore Tweeters out there that believe in a constant stream of useless updates. But a tidal wave of information every day all day drowns out the streams from other infrequent posters. These tweeps, albeit less prolific than you are still important to me, and it makes me very angry to have their voices drowned out. If I open Twhirl and all I see if you, all the time. You’re gone.
2. Are You Alive?
Crazy I know given my disdain for too-frequent Teeters but if you’re not posting at least daily (hell weekly) then maybe you should be running a blog instead. [insert you’re doing it wrong internet meme photo here] You also run the risk of being pruned by people who think you’re either dead or missing in action.
3. Me Me Me!
If the only tweets you post are quick blurbs with a link to your latest garbage blog article then the value of your stream is dramatically less. Unless you’re running a news organization (you’re not) your followers will want to see more than just shameless self promotion even if it’s good stuff (and trust me, it isn’t).
4. Hello & Goodbye
I have a hard time really faulting anyone for this because I know what it’s like to be busy, and try to maintain a reliable Twitter stream all day but it’s annoying enough it’s worthy of being pointed out. If you post 5 tweets in 5 minutes and then nothing the rest of the day, most of your followers will miss your updates, completely. The very nature of Twitter is about what is happening right now, and if stuff only happens to you 5 minutes once a day (or so it would appear to your followers) you won’t be part of the conversation. Use a Tweet scheduler if you only have 1 chunk of time a day to use Twitter.
5. What? @replies
@josiahcole see you tomorrow – This does not help your followers who may have missed our original tweets that explained said meeting. Even though you may not be able to direct message the person in question because they don’t follow you back (how dare they!), you should take effort to make sure your replies at least make sense to everyone else not in the know.
6. #toomany #hashtags
Hashtags (or poor man’s search as I call it) are great and all, and everyone is very proud that you figured out how they worked (yay you!). But every tweet you post does not need to contain them.
I’ll openly admit I’ve been guilty of this a few times in the past, but that’s exactly the point. Most of your tweets with URLS should contain some explanatory text, otherwise with URL shorteners your followers are clicking completely blind. For those hilarious web videos that need no explanation just rock the URL, but make sure it’s something that doesn’t happen often, so your trusting followers know what to expect (awesomeness).
8. I didn’t want to know
This has a variable built into it that can eliminate some potential violators from this list. If your followers do not know you (that well) personally, you shouldn’t really be telling people how you slept on the couch last night or how big your latest bowel movement was. They probably don’t care. It is OK to slip in the occasional person nugget, but like URL posts keep them to a minimum. If you only follow, and are followed by your inner circle of friends than by all means continue tweeting about your cats.
9. Is this a robot?
You probably saw this one coming but along with #8, if your followers can’t discern any real personality behind your tweets, they probably won’t stick around too long. Try to sprinkle in some personal flavor along with your self-promotion.
10. Hi, Hi, Hi
This is not so much a daily tweet faux pas as it is a general Twitter guideline. I know your inner marketer is dying to DM every new follower but you must resist the temptation. Not only is this annoying if all the DM says is “thanks for following me”, it makes you seem too eager to your shiny new follower who doesn’t know you’re a skeezy social marketer .. yet. Keep the illusion alive by not DMing-on-follow at least until they can start reading your tweets.
11. I have no taste
Another general Twitter guideline that’s worthy of a mention. Some people employ scripts to do this and others simply do it as a social networking habit but if you follow everyone who follows you it makes your ‘follows’ worth nothing (and also means you should probably be on MySpace). I follow only those that I’m interested in and while I’m generally flattered when anyone chooses to follow my drivel it would be silly for me to simply reciprocate every time (it’s not you, it’s me). I value my decision to follow and you should too.