Sunday, January 18, 2009

25 Reasons Why I Won’t Follow You on Twitter

One of the conundrums that people new (or even long-timers) to Twitter have is how to decide when to follow someone, particular after they’ve decided to follow you. Like most questions, there is no simple answer.

You need to find an approach that works for you. And undoubtedly you will change your approach over time and also make many exceptions to your “follow rules” along the way. That said, there seem to be three general types of follower strategies:
  • When someone follows you, you follow them in return. You feel compelled to, it is the courteous thing to do.
  • You follow almost no one. It is all about you, or you have a one-way strategy ala many of the large news organizations.
  • You follow people selectively. You check out who they are to see if they can add value to your personal or professional life, are just interesting or entertaining, etc.
When I started Twittering I took the first approach and followed pretty much everyone in return, with the exception of clear spammers. But then as my Twitter confidence grew and it became clear what I wanted from Twitter and what I was able to contribute, I started to become more selective. But just because I’m not following you today, doesn’t mean I won’t in the future.

So here is my list of Top 25 (serious and not so serious) reasons why I won’t follow you on Twitter:

1. You don’t have a photo or image in your profile. (Do not pass go, do not collect a follower.)

2. You do have a photo, but it is of a garage door in need of much repair. (Two Exceptions: 1. I love photography and it is a really cool, artsy B&W photo; or 2. You are a garage door repair company – oh, well I still won’t follow you.)

3. You have 3 posts, 2 people following you and you are following 7. (You may be the most amazing, brilliant and interesting person – but I just can’t tell yet.)

4. You are following 1,243 people and 47 are following you. (Hmm, have you considered using deodorant?)

5. Your Location is listed as: Wow, nirvana man! (Like, Smells Like Teen Spirit changed my life too dude, but like near which Starbucks do you reside mostly?)

6. Your only Tweet goes something like: “I just don’t get this Twitter thing, seems like a waste of time” or “Just checking things out.” (Hope you are not considering a future in marketing.)

7. I scan your last 20 or so Tweets and they all involve phrases like: anyone got any RedBull, I think I might be drunk, can someone Tweet me a cab, whoa I’m really f**ked up, just saw this really hot babe; how did I end up here. (I have nothing against being 24, single and living life to its fullest – well, oh maybe I do, as following you would be just too painful for this card-carrying member of the AARP.)

8. Your updates are protected. (Practicing safe Twitter? Hmm, guess you don’t want me to follow you anyway.)

9. Your Bio says: Sweat Pea Cosmetics consultant in Springfield. (Nothing against cosmetics consultants, I'm just not that interested in mascara, rouge and lipstick. Although, I could use a recommendation to get rid of these damn bags under my eyes.)

10. Your bio says: Follow me so I can try to sell you stuff. (FAIL)

11. Your Twitter handle is: @bigstick. (OK, well I’m happy for your being rewarded at birth, but remember size isn’t everything.)

12. Your Twitter Name is @PinkPanties. (Well, maybe I will follow you - but I won’t admit to it publicly.)

13. Your Bio says: I’m a cat. Follow me and I’ll make you purr. (Intriguing, but I’ll pass – my wife already thinks I’m stalking college girls on Facebook.)

14. Your Bio says: Nothing, it is blank. (Sorry, you FAILed Twitter 101.)

15. Your Bio has the word “chick” or “dude” in it. (OK, I’ll make exceptions on this one if used in the right context – like Chief Marketing Dude @Twitter.)

16. I click to check you out and the page doesn’t exist. (Obvious, but what the heck.)

17. Your Bio starts with “Ethically Steal….”. (Is that like “kind of pregnant?”)

18. I read your most recent Tweets and notice they are ALL TYPED IN UPPER CASE. (What, you think I’ll miss your point in a 140 characters?)

19. You are a company I could be interested in, but ALL of your posts are links to press releases or requests to vote for you in the Shorty (or similar) Awards. (Show me you can contribute to the conversation, and I’ll reconsider.)

20. Your Bio is a list of URLs. (

21. Your Bio says: Follow me and I’ll turn your annual income into a monthly income. (Wow, a math major – I can do that too. Divide annual salary by 12 = monthly income.)

22. Your Bio includes the word “guaranteed.” (If you aren’t selling death or taxes I’ll probably pass.)

23. Your Twitter background features pictures of people in leather, with whips and chains. (The pictures tell the story, why ruin it by following you.)

24. Your Bio says: Monster Trucks Rule! (What would we say to each other?)

25. Your Bio says that “your favorite wine is 'white zinfandel'.” (Sorry, I’ll admit it, I’m a wine snob.)

Yes, many of these were inspired by real Twitter profiles, but were modified to protect the innocent. If you think you recognize yourself – it isn’t you, was clearly someone else.

What are your favorite (serious or humorous) reasons for not following someone. Please @LorenMcDonald your reasons.

BTW, if you don’t follow me @LorenMcDonald - I won’t take it personally. And I’d like to thank @evansmom for reviewing this before I posted it to make sure I didn’t offend anyone.


  1. So which one of these explains why you won't follow me back on Twitter? :)

    I think you summed up the reasons pretty well here! It's amazing to me how many people just don't get it. Twitter is about establishing dialog and relationships with others, which you can't do if you're always trying to sell, always trying to show how important you are, or, as in the case of #8, have protected updates!


  2. Mhh, my Bio ( konterfai at twitter ) says "Holy Moly". My Twitterstream is more just for me as for anybody else !

  3. HA! Top notch list. I recently hopped in the Twitter pool and after just a few laps I've decided to be very selective on who I follow. After all, too many birdies on your shoulder can be quite deafening. @rianoneill. PS I'm already an offender of some of your reasons/rules, but I vow to shape up.

  4. Great points. On the contrary side, if I am following someone, and they never follow me, I could care less, I continue to follow them. It's not about numbers at all for me. PS. I'm @savorytv on Twitter.

  5. Tbh, I don't get the whole micro-blogging thing, maybe you can write a same style article about the reasons to micro- or not microblog? Would be a fun article to read.

    (Oh my god, first time I checked your blog and I'm already asking for something in return :P )

  6. Ditto on most of these, from the broad to the incredibly specific. I would add "26. All of your tweets are about you, don't include linsk to interesting content and reference inside jokes/occurrences that could not be relevant to anyone else - I will tolerate narcissism, it may be inherent in the medium even, but I will not tolerate boredom."

  7. Yep, UPPPER CASE kills me too. My eyes are trained to skim past shouters.