It’s pretty easy to unfollow someone on Twitter. That’s both a good and scary thing.
Getting Twitter followers is half the battle. But hanging on to them is just as important – especially because it’s the most engaged tweeters (or tweeple) who are the most valuable for helping you get your message out. They’re the ones who are paying attention, and who will reply, retweet and favorite you. These are the people you want to hang on to, not the spammy types who will follow anyone and then never pay attention to them or their tweets.
Engaged people do choose to unfollow sometimes – after all, they are paying attention! Here are some tips for keeping your most valuable Twitter followers happy and un-annoyed, so they won’t want to unfollow you.
#1 – Make sure your Twitter bio and tweets are on the same page.
If your bio says you’re an expert in underwater basket weaving, many people are going to follow you expecting tweets about underwater basket weaving. But if your tweets don’t deliver what they were hoping for – say you mostly tweet about what you ate for breakfast – you are bound to lose followers.
By the way, this is very similar to how you should do email marketing. If people sign up for emails about natural medicine, but you send them emails about weight loss products, many people are going to unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam.
#2 – Don’t automatically DM (direct message) people when they follow you.
When I asked my own followers on Twitter (many of whom are online marketing and social media experts) what things would make them unfollow someone, this was the answer I heard most. For some people, nothing is more annoying than an auto DM that sounds canned and artificial. Social media should be social and human after all, right?
#3 – Don’t have apps tweet for you, unless you think they’ll be interesting for your followers.
For example, many people tweet automatically every time they check in on Foursquare. Tweets like that get boring or annoying really fast, and some people (like me) are bound to unfollow you. Unless you’re a close friend who’s in the same city, I don’t really need to know what restaurant you’re at.
#4 – Have some variety and good stuff in your last three tweets.
If I started following you because you shared good tips about online marketing, but then a while later I see 10 in a row about your latest diet, I may forget why I followed you in the first place, and unfollow you on the spot. Or if I remembered why I followed you, I may still may decide that your signal to noise ratio is too low, and choose to unfollow you.
Also, when I see a lame tweet and I’m trying to decide if I should really unfollow that person, I click on their profile and look at their last three tweets. From there, it’s easy to unfollow – or I can go back and continue following if I liked those last three tweets.
#5 – Don’t just talk about yourself.
Few people want to follow someone who only talks about him or herself – their blog posts, their company, their product, their day, etc.
It’s not very social to just toot your own horn, and anyway, it’s not nearly as effective as someone else tooting your horn. You should engage with other people on Twitter – respond to their funny remarks, link to their content, and highlight their accomplishments. That way, you’ll be seen as a source of valuable information, and as a real, likeable person.
#6 – Don’t tweet too often.
Unless you’re following thousands of people, it can be annoying to have your Twitter stream dominated by someone who isn’t one of your closest friends. When one person’s tweets are crowding out everyone else’s in my stream, I will usually unfollow them unless their tweets are pure gold.
#7 – Tweet regularly.
If you don’t tweet for a while, some people will forget about you and why they followed you in the first place. Then, when you start tweeting again they will be less likely to engage with your tweets, and they may unfollow you if they don’t recognize you.
Also, there are various tools – TwitCleaner.com, for example – that suggest which people you may want to unfollow on Twitter. One category is people you’re following who haven’t tweeted in a long time.
#8 – Be wary of politics and religion.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, but if you tell people in your bio or recent tweets that you’re a strict Verdukian who feels very strongly about the Third Amendment, you’re bound to lose some followers who don’t share your beliefs, or who don’t want to hear about your beliefs.
#9 – Be mindful of your potty mouth.
If your tweets regularly contain swear words, adult humor, or links that are not safe for work (NSFW), you may lose some followers who have strict bosses or morals.
#10 – Be consistent with your language.
I commonly see bilingual people on Twitter whose tweets will switch between English and another language. We understand that it’s normal in some communities to mix two languages very casually and easily – but you should understand that it can cause some people to unfollow you.
To minimize unfollowing, it can be helpful to make your last three tweets always have at least one post in each of the languages you use to tweet. That way, if someone sees a tweet in a language they don’t speak and goes to look at your profile, they will be reminded that you also tweet in a language they can read. You could also give people a heads up in your bio, or consider two separate Twitter accounts – one for each language – so you can build a strong following for each.
#11 – Consider having two accounts for different purposes.
It’s not just bilingual people who can benefit from having two Twitter accounts. Many sophisticated Twitter users have one account for their professional relationships and another for their closer friends. That allows them to share blog posts, reach out to prospects and help customers in one account, and indulge their rants and off-color humor in another.
Keep in mind that unless you protect your tweets, all Twitter activity is public. People can still find your other account and read its tweets.
#12 – Don’t ignore @s (mentions).
When I reply to someone’s tweet or mention them with an @ on Twitter, I usually remember and anxiously await a response. If I haven’t heard back in a few days, I will sometimes feel bitter enough to unfollow them. Maybe they’re snubbing me, or their tweets are just automated and they don’t pay attention to replies – either way, I probably won’t miss following them.
Unfortunately, Twitter only emails you when someone you’re already following mentions you. So if you want to notice @s from new people, you have to log in to Twitter regularly and check. Not everyone does this.
#13 – Don’t just auto-post from Facebook or another social network.
Chopped-off tweets with links to Facebook don’t look good, and they don’t encourage engagement. I wouldn’t expect someone whose tweets come automatically from Facebook to notice or care when I reply, or if I retweet one of their tweets. So why waste the time?
Also, people usually want to stay on whatever social network they’re on. It doesn’t usually work to try driving people from one to another.
#14 – Don’t get hacked.
Have you ever received a DM from someone that said something like “Someone’s spreading nasty rumors about you” with a link to some spammy site? Or seen someone randomly start tweeting about some new miracle diet they found? That means someone or some bot got into their account and is using it to spam people or infect them with malware.
Unless they know you well, many people will be likely to unfollow you if they see tweets or direct messages like this coming from your Twitter account.
To avoid being hacked, make sure your password is secure – with a capital letter and a number perhaps, and not the same password you use for other sites. Also, check which applications you’ve authorized to access your Twitter account, and revoke access to any you no longer use or trust.
#15 – See if your Twitter triggers any red flags.
TwitCleaner is a free tool I use to help me find people I may want to unfollow. TwitCleaner can also check your own Twitter stream to see if you would show up on anyone else’s reports as someone to unfollow. Check your account here.
What makes you unfollow someone? Share your frustrations or advice in the comments below.
Could you use some tips for getting new followers? Read this article.
This article was written by Kristina Weis of AboutUs.
Kristina is customer service and social media lead for AboutUs. She helps website owners who are trying to promote their businesses online. Her personal blog is at KristinaWeis.com and she tweets at @KristinaWeis and @AboutUs.