As you may have noticed, there is a tremendous amount of recycling on Twitter, and I don’t mean in the eco-friendly way. Followers come and go. One would assume you want to keep as many as you can.
Let me begin by saying I’m not an expert in marketing, Twitter, Facebook, social media, social networking or thermodynamics. I’m just a dude with a blog who is very active on Twitter. I also notice patterns, especially the grating kind.
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You’ve most likely heard the axiom “It can take months to find a client and seconds to lose one.” It applies on Twitter ten-fold. When someone follows you back, it’s either automated or you’ve offered something that’s interesting for the nanosecond.
Unfollowing can alsobe automated (they were just looking to boost their own follow count and have no clue who you are OR you didn’t follow-back fast enough), or it’s a statement that you pissed them off or you’re boring.
What you really want to avoid is a block – a very bold unfollow statement that says they don’t even want you following them. It also scores as a bad demerit in the Twitter police log.
The worst is if they block you and report you as spam. That means in their eyes you’re tweeting garbage and don’t even deserve the privilege of an account. You get too many of those and Twitter will suspend your account. Permanently.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are my Nine Simple Rules to Prevent the Unfollow. (Top 10s are so cliché.)
If all you talk about is yourself, your company, your product or “actionable opportunities, you’ll lose. Yes, you want to promote your message, but high school rules apply: be cool, fool. Don’t get carried away and don’t be annoying.
Twitter is all about engagement and two-way communication. If you only tweet out, you’re being ineffective. And kind of a dork.
Don’t hire someone to tweet 24/7. Don’t use a bot to tweet 24/7. [HINT: when someone checks out your feed, if all they see is via API or via HootSuite, it screams automaton spam.]
Mix it up. When checking out a tweeter’s stream, I look for the following:
Kindness and humor
RTs (retweets) of others content – what do you think is retweetworthy?
Human-like conversations – your @ replies to followers, and they better not be “Hey @ToastMastersLead, DM me your phone number so I can sell you my product/service.”
And for heaven’s sakes, don’t just tweet quotes. Everyone on Twitter quotes, and RTs the RTs of the quotes. Thatreal estate market is saturated.
Don’t RT URLs that everyone else is RTing, especially if they’re unrelated to you or your product. You just sound like that student who repeats everything the teacher says with a minor re-ordering of words. I hated that kid.
3. Don’t play the numbers game.
It’s honestly not all about the numbers. Anyone can have a ton of followers, but are they listening when you tweet? Only if they’re engaged.
Using tools to boost your count and unfollowing those that don’t follow you back in 48 hours means you’re just about the numbers and impatient. Don’t be so quick to unfollow. I often give it a few days before I follow back because (a) I’m busy and (b) I want to know what you’re all about.
And ignore the Bieber factor. It’s temporary. It gains you nothing to connect with, follow, or mention anything about him unless you genuinely work for him, which you don’t. I’ve got two words for you: “Spice. Girls.”
4. Speling kounts.
Don’t look stupid. Yes, we judge.
5. Don’t misrepresent yourself.
We can smell a PhDuh a mile away. Don’t call yourself an expert unless you’re truly an authority. I see “social media expert” in bios every day. Most are far from it, or the field is so new you’re on equal ground with everyone. Words like “enthusiast” sound less douchey and more realistic. “Hey, I’m not an expert but I love this stuff!”
6. Tools are for tools.
OK, tools can be helpful when used for good. I connect with people all over the world. Some of them use tools to post tweets because of the vastly different time zones and to keep their stream fresh, but not overflowing. I appreciate seeing their tweets when I’m awake and they’re in the land of slumber. Just don’t overdo it.
Using a tool to tweet 25 times an hour, 24 hours a day, especially repeating the same tweets, will guarantee a buh-bye. If you spam, you get blocked or suspended – not exactly how you want to build your reputation.
And watch the tools for building followers. They scream “bot” and insincere. Organic growth is healthy in the Twitterverse. It also gives you time to observe and learn. Make your mistakes when your follow count is low.
7. DM me? You don’t even know me.
Don’t direct-message (DM) someone you don’t know. Just because they’re now following you doesn’t mean they’re welcoming your one-on-one personal contact. Especially seconds after the follow. Read the tweets and blogs – most people are quite annoyed by the automatic DM “Thanks for following! [Insert your self-serving-statement-and-URL here].
Think of it like this: If you met a potential client at a business conference, and they handed you their business card, you wouldn’t call them at their home while you’re still standing next to them at the booth. Chillax. DM is for personal, one-on-one correspondence when it’s appropriate and welcomed. It’s OK to @-reply someone asking if it’s OK to DM. See? Etiquette.
8. Folla back, girl.
Why wouldn’t you follow back someone who sought you out and is following you? You can wait a few days to make sure they’re not phishing, spam bots or demon-spawn. And when you do follow back, it doesn’t mean you’re expected to read their tweets. There is no quiz.
This is especially true for the entertainment networks and large companies. You have hundreds if not thousands of employees. You don’t have to read our tweets (maybe @-replies), but a follow-back would be nice. Check out @PleasureEllis. “He” follows back over 141,000 people and RTs mentions, and the crowd goes wild. Believe me: a little acknowledgment goes a long way.
9. Don’t make Twitter a less fun place to hang out.
This statement is found throughout Twitter’s own best practices documentation for a good reason. Like a 67-slide PowerPoint review session, get-rich-quick, grow-your-followers or let-me-tell-you-what-I-can-do-for-you type tweets drain the fun. Share interesting information in an interesting way and you’ll keep me on.
Remember, this is a social network. It means etiquette applies. Just because someone is behind an avatar doesn’t mean they’re hiding or anonymous, whether they are corporate, a brand or a level-seven dungeon master. Twitter is not a billboard. It is not an invitation for you to bombard potential customers with your message. But it is a wonderful opportunity for networking with those potential customers, colleagues and human beings. Just remember: two-way discussions and engagement is the key.
Folks will find you. They may connect with you because tweeps they follow also follow you. People who are interested in a particular book, writer, program, actor, artist, celebrity, network, topic or brand will seek them out. And there are Twitter celebrities that have nothing to do with any of those examples, yet they’ve grown to superstar status. Their secret? They tweet interesting information, they interact and they’re nice.
That’s right, the secret to making this thing work is to be genuine and kind.
I wish you luck! And if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, I’m @GCGeek. But there are no guarantees I’ll follow back. At least not right away.
About the author:
Mike Morucci is a humorist, blogger, tech writer, freelancer and TV writer in the making. He writes the blog Do I Amuse You?. You can connect with him on Twitter, where he’s @GCGeek and speaks in the first-person. He also loves puppies.