The Real Reason People Unfollow You on Twitter

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If your Twitter followers are dying off, chances are good you’re committing one of these common errors.

Hello, Twitter influencer. We’ve had a good run, you and I. Your tweets have sometimes been super helpful and relevant, which is why I chose to follow you in the first place. Alas, the end of our relationship is quickly drawing near.

You see, Twitter is a very noisy place. I, like many others, have to pick and choose carefully where to tune in and what to tune out. I don’t want to tune you out, but for one or more of the following reasons, it’s time.

1. You forgot the “social” in social media.

It’s hard to love someone who’s excessively self-promotional on social media. It’s OK to periodically tweet stuff about yourself, but if your stream looks like your blog’s RSS feed, you’re not being social.

Ideally, you want to stick to the 90/10 rule, so that about 90 percent of your tweets are not about you. Share other people’s tweets, engage with the influential people that you follow, and participate in conversations. This way, when you share your own business or personal updates, your overall profile will be much more balanced.

2. You’re so vain, you probably think this post is about you.

Well, hello there, handsome. This time, you’re right; this is all about you–but not in a good way. Naturally, you want to wow others and convince them to follow you. Who knows, maybe you really are kind of a big deal!

However, studies have shown that the most proven way to get followers is to do the exact opposite. It’s more effective to invest your time in telling others how awesome they are, by following them and retweeting, replying to, and favoriting their content. In a way, the word “followers” is part of the problem. You’re not looking for sheeple to follow you around and hang on your every word. Twitter is a great place to network, build and strengthen relationships, learn and share. Put others first and eventually you will develop those mutually rewarding, reciprocal relationships that make Twitter the powerful tool that it is.

3. You just don’t have much to say.

Twitter is a noisy platform and users tend to browse their timelines periodically. It’s like listening to the radio in the background, rather than trying to tune in for every single song. Unfortunately, if you’re not tweeting on a somewhat regular basis, the chances you’re actually appearing in front of your followers if and when they tune in becomes slim.

It’s important to appear “always on” by spacing out your tweets evenly throughout the day using scheduling tools, and even tweeting out your most important updates more than once at different times over several days, otherwise I’ll forget why I followed you in the first place.

4. I missed you…and then forgot all about you.

This is a logical extension of the last point: Make sure you check in regularly to respond to mentions, direct messages, and retweets. It’s not cool to blast out tweets and never engage the people who respond to them.

Also, don’t drop off the grid and disappear for days or weeks, if it can be avoided. Instead, engage with users and respond to your interactions every day, including weekends, so your profile never looks like a ghost town.

This is made a lot easier with smartphones and apps; there’s really no excuse to ignore people for days on end. If you’re treating your Twitter account like a social network and not like a marketing/broadcast channel, it shouldn’t feel like work to check in.

5. You’re a content hoarder.

Social media is all about sharing. I want to see the awesome things you’re doing, but a good part of the value in following a person is the exposure to the select things they see in a day and choose to share. If you’re sharing other people’s awesome content, I’ll gladly follow along. Try to find at least a few good articles, books, videos, podcasts, presentations, or other tweets to share with your network each day. Most sites offer share buttons–use them! Don’t hog all the great insights to yourself or you’ll inevitably fall into the trap of talking about yourself and your own work all the time.

6. You’re polarizing on issues I don’t want to hear about.

I understand that all people are whole people, and you have to take some irrelevance to get the good stuff out of any given person’s Twitter feed. However, you should be careful to use the same etiquette in tweets as you would in any conversation.

If you find yourself railing on about politics, religion, sex, or other polarizing topics, there’s a good chance you’re alienating at least part of your audience.

Unless it’s your job to publicly discuss these issues, tread lightly.

Bottom Line

Let’s salvage this good thing we have going.

Don’t partake in self-destructive Twitter behaviors that drive away followers and leave people thinking less of you. Be an influencer by virtue of being truly influential–by having a real, lasting effect on the people who choose to follow along.


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