Twitter: Who I will not follow

There are several kinds of tweeps I will not follow including:

  • Tweeps who are not local to me
  • Tweeps who do not tweet
  • Anyone who uses TrueTwit etc
  • Spammers

If you are in any of the above categories I will usually not follow you.

Not local

I live and work in the East of England.

Unless you fall into one of the categories I described previously there is no reason for me to follow you unless you are also in East or South East England.

There are several other social media services where communities are built with no regard to geography. MySpace is the best example. On Myspace you network with people who share some of your interests. Facebook and LinkedIn also support this kind of interest based networking through groups and pages. Twitter is not that.

Empty, Dead or inactive Twitter accounts

I do not follow dead or inactive accounts because you will not be tweeting anything therefore I will get nothing from following you. If your account is dead or inactive but you have followed me I will not be following you back for the same reason. I do appreciate you following me and hope you get some interesting or entertaining information from following me.

If you have not sent out any tweets but follow thousands I will not follow you because you are not giving me any value and because I suspect you are a potential spammer. Building up your following numbers relying on people who use auto-follow is lazy and while your account may appear impressive to the untrained eye based on the number of followers you have there is no real value. Chances are high that the account will be sold off to a spammer who will rely on the numbers game to get some sales.

Twitter Validation Services

Why are so many people using a validation service on Twitter? Upon reflection I realise people are using such services for one of two reasons:

  1. They are trying to avoid following spammers who rely on those annoying auto-follow services
  2. They can’t be bothered to manage their twitter community and therefore hand over responsibility to a third party service.

It takes only a few short seconds to unfollow and block a spammer so why risk annoying and insulting people who you could form a great relationship with on Twitter by having a third party service send them a DM on your behalf informing that that you basically can not be bothered to check their account yourself to see if they are someone you want to follow.

Twitter Validation Services are a problem for several reasons:

  1. The validation process takes too much time
  2. You are closing the door on what was designed to be an open and inclusive social networking system.
  3. You are de-personalising the process
  4. You are abrogating the decision to follow to a third party service, therefore not bothering to see if I am the kind of tweep that you would actually want to follow
  5. You are spamming my twitter inbox with junk.
  6. It is rude!

I will unfollow anyone who has rudely thrown a TrueTwit DM at me. It is rude. Don’t do it.

If you do use a twitter validation service but I really want to engage with you I will, after unfollowing you, @mention you in a tweet. If at that stage you respond to me I will follow you again and ignore the auto-DM and see if you follow me back. If you still do not take the time to manually manage your following enough to follow me back I will give up, unfollow you for the final time and not bother with you again.

Twitter validation services are bad for us all.


There are spammers and there are Spammers.


3 responses to “Twitter: Who I will not follow

  1. So many ‘rules’!!

    I am surprised you refuse to follow anyone apart from those in your immediate geographic location. One of the most exciting qualities Twitter has, is serendipity. If I had only followed people who live and work near me I would be probably out of business! Twitter is not a business tool it is a medium through which we connect, engage, share, inform, learn and support.
    By following, engaging and getting to know people from all walks of life and all over the world, my life is richer! If I had not followed, I would never have met the very excellent Mr Chris Brogan ( last year in Doncaster, I would not have had egg & chips with Vanessa Warwick (ex MTV presenter of Headbangers Ball) at the Hilton in Leicester along with the incredible Nick Tadd.
    I have chatted and connected online since 1995, and run my businesses via online now for over 8 years. My business is a ‘local’ one. I won business through a lady I connected with – she was in Australia but she recommended me to her son who was setting up in business in the UK. I have met some incredible people who have travelled to Yorkshire for a ‘Tweet Up’ to meet myself and Pan Aveyard – from as far as Kent, Southampton – oh and yes, Uruguay 🙂
    If you restrict who you engage with and follow ( apart from the spammers of course who do not deserve it) then you are following an ‘agenda’, a detriment to yourself. You are not allowing the doors to open so people can recommend you to the people they know (who may not even be on Twitter)
    There is no such thing as Social Media Marketing – there’s Social Media, and there is Online Marketing – to confuse the two is a common mistake. The Social space is there for us to communicate and collaborate, and to build a community from which we will gain influencers and advocates, and of course business, but it isn’t an alternative to traditional marketing.
    If you have clients, I am sure they are looking for longevity and not a quick fix.

    • Hi Lesley,

      Thanks for a great comment.

      It may surprise you to learn that I agree with much of what you say.

      You say Twitter is not a business tool yet in the same sentence you list all the attributes that make it just that. There is email marketing, there is direct mail marketing, there is broadcast marketing and there is social media marketing. They are, or at least ought to be, part of an overall marketing campaign that includes strategic and tactical objectives that will help deliver a measurable goal.

      If marketers are not able to link the expenses associated with social media communications with revenue generating activities no business will agree to put a single penny into the activity, and rightly so. Every penny sent out there should come back with at least two friends. If you do not have a goal, if you do not have a strategy, if you do not have a defined set of tactics to implement that strategy and deliver that goal, the money, you will not get anything back. I can see from your website that you know what I am talking about.

      If you look at my other article you will get a sense of part of what I am talking about.

      A social media strategy should be concerned with developing an online community, providing information and support, dealing with problems and informing the community about new opportunities to engage and transact with the company. It should not be used to push customers away from the social channels and into a closed loop of email and phone calls. Customer service should be done well and with integrity and it should be seen. It should be seen because the entire community deserves to know how they can expect to be treated should they ever come to you with an issue. Even difficult situations can be handled appropriately. This develops trust. I am more likely to do business with a company I trust.

      If Paypal had responded to the first few tweets from the #OpPayPal topic today they could have prevented it from trending. How many of those early tweets were from confused customers who didn’t know what to do or how to respond to the messages being sent out by the campaign organisers? They really let their customers down and have lost trust as a result. Of the accounts that have been closed, how many do you suppose resulted from political motives verses practicle motives? People were asking for guidance, thought the service was under a hack attack, wanted to know if their account, privacy and money was safe. Paypal ignored the situation, increased the level of discomfort for those people, and brought many of the account closures on their own heads.

      As to the question of local (or some broad definition of local) engagement vs. global, I tried to explain that I follow people regardless of where they are from but that there is a process I follow to essentially ensure I am not following spammers.

      I am going on a bit here. I would like to continue this discussion with you.


      Rob (@engagetoday)

  2. Yes Rob, I did say “Twitter is not a business tool it is a medium through which we connect, engage, share, inform, learn and support.” – but unsure where you get the idea that the attributes listed are business related!
    This is where we differ – you come at Social Media with a marketing head on, yet many of us have engaged and connected online, as ourselves, for nearly 2 decades – long before the term ‘Social Media’ was coined. Yes I am a Social Media Purist, but I am far from ‘fluffy’.We have collected in our millions across so many social sites – marketers see this as a ready made audience, but they are wrong. You have to weed out and find those that are interested in you by taking an interest in them. We didn’t collect here to be sold at – we collected here to connect and to share, be that opinions or cooking recipes.

    You talk of ROI – again a Marketers perspective. How can you measure the ROI of relationships, of conversation? You can’t! Tell me, what is the ROI of your phone? You are technically saying that you want something from everyone you speak to or connect with – again an agenda that you feel needs to be measured. I have followed you for a while, maybe you saw no ‘use’ in me, which is why you didn’t follow back, knowing I’d never become a customer!
    You talk of targeting – as a ‘customer’ or potential customer I don’t want to be ‘targeted’ by anyone. I want to be asked what I want, my opinions listened to, my preferences noted. I want to be able to make choices, not have content hurled at me. Content builds communities, and is not an after thought.

    Social Media are not for broadcasting and ‘selling at’ – they are not tools to push your products out (thats Internet marketing) – Social Media allow us to pull people toward us. You cannot do that without an engaged community!

    Of course once you have that community, one that is loyal, that trusts you and believes in you or your products you don’t need to ‘push’, they are already hooked and will become advocates for you. If you use marketing tactics to try build your community it won’t work – thats why Social Media has evolved, so that people can talk to people. Thats why we can now fast forward through adverts. Why over 75% of us trust peer recommendations over advertising and marketing messages.

    You talk of ‘community’ but I don’t see anything about ‘how’ to build a community. Marketing messages, and stuff like ‘please Like our facebook Page” are shallow and empty and mean nothing. Teaching your ‘clients’ how to build a community will bring them longevity in all they do – you can’t ‘buy’ a community, it has to be built person to person. You can’t build someone elses community for them, community should take into account all departments within a company and should also include suppliers and partners. How can anyone do that remotely for someone else? How will you interact and help with suppliers or customers if you don’t work within the company itself? What will you say, how will you react? All this is ‘personal’ to the company you are ‘representing’ It really isn’t a case of being Mr Ben for a monthly retainer:)

    It is only Brands that struggle with the relationship building, and this is because they are huge and to an extent faceless. Yet so many are now doing great – like DunkinDonuts, Coca Cola and Starbucks to mention a few. Smaller businesses and organisations should not be looking for ROI in Social Media, it is all about networking. You even suggest that people go to offline networking meetings, perhaps like BforB, so, I guess you will be telling me you look for ROI there too – the cost to attend and the time you spend there?
    If people get the social aspect of Social Media, they won’t put a foot wrong, but if they appraoch with a marketing head on they will run into a few brick walls as we shut them out. Social Media are people centric not product centric.

    I am unsure why you chose to write about Paypal the way you did. Admittedly they may have made a mistake, and maybe are slow on the uptake to put it right – but mistakes are allowed. Gap did it twice last year, others will follow. Not everyone embraces Social Media yet, and it’s highly possible Paypal have hired a Marketing company to look after their Social Media, and one that doesn’t know how to manage a community!

    We are clearly looking at Social Media in different ways, and may never agree but I know that what I advocate and help people understand brings them repeat business, not one night stands.

    Kindest Regards