How to fail miserably on Twitter

It’s all too apparent that many people who use Twitter have no understanding of how it works. You often see accounts where someone has Tweeted thousands of times and yet they only have 25 followers. This could be down to any number of factors but the simple fact is that unless you share interesting content and make it easy for people to search for it then your following will be restricted to friends, people who live in your area and spammers.

Twitter on mobile phone

There are any number of blogs out there aimed at helping you increase the number of people who follow your Twitter postings and there are even companies which will sell you thousands of followers. The latter is not advised, however, since these people essentially have no interest in you or your ramblings. It may look good on your profile to suddenly have 5,025 followers but unless you have attracted and nurtured them yourself you will effectively be speaking to any empty room.

In my work as a PR consultant I advise clients on the best ways of building and maintaining their following on Twitter. It set me thinking about the reasons why Tweeters decline to follow others and why they decide to unfollow people.

I came up with the following 10 actions guaranteed to lose you friends and alienate people on Twitter. If you are guilty of doing any of these it is probably why you are being largely shunned by the Twitterati. If you don’t want anyone to follow your Tweets simply carry on doing any of the following:

1 Do not upload a photograph of yourself or a brand logo

Twitter is a social network and people want to see your picture or an image of your company. Your profile will have just the default egg-shaped avatar and you will blend seamlessly into the background with the millions of other Tweeters.

2 Clog up every follower’s timeline with dozens of Tweets posted all together

This is the equivalent of verbal diarrhoea. If you talk too much people will tune you out and stop listening. Part of the attraction of Twitter is getting a series of messages from very different people. No-one wants to see 10 or 15 comments from the same person, one after the other, and if it keeps happening they will unfollow.

Twitter icon

3 Leave your profile bio empty

This is as big a Twitter ‘crime’ as not having a photograph. The first thing most people do when they see a Tweet from someone new is click on their profile to find out a little about them and assess if they are worth following. A bio with no personal information and/or witty comments is of no interest to anyone.

4 Fail to post for months on end

If you haven’t Tweeted since 2009 people will assume you have lost interest and they will almost certainly not follow you. Even a couple of Tweets a month is enough to assure people you are still alive and that you are engaging with Twitter and your audience.

5 Post inappropriate and offensive material

Some people can get away with the odd swear word or a link to dodgy internet content but it will probably offend the majority. If you are Tweeting on behalf of your company or your employer then it is wise to keep it clean. Inappropriate material does not reflect well on a brand or those who choose to follow it.

6 Personal chat with friends of no interest to follower

“@Matey Hello mate, are you going down the pub later?” – “@DrinkingBuddy Yes mate, see you there about 8”. Keep these inane Twitter conversations going and your mate down the pub will pretty much be your only follower left. Text messages are for making personal plans of no interest to anyone else.

Baffled by social media

7 Excessive self-promotion

By all means talk about your business award or your newly-attained first class degree but don’t go on about it. I recently published my first novel as an eBook and I have plugged it on Twitter. But I try to limit the number of Tweets about it. I cringe when I see fellow authors plugging their new book 10 or 15 times a day – less is more.

8 Repeat stuff over and over

Keep talking about the same subject over and over again and people will soon start switching off. If you have a new product to sell try to vary your Tweets and be subtle about it. Mix personal interests in with your shop talk. Constant ‘buy my book’ Tweets by authors will not work. Different passages from the novel or quotes from reviewers probably will.

9 Post dozens of automated Tweets every day

Social media tools such as Hootsuite allow people to schedule Tweets in advance. While this is useful from a business perspective when you are working abroad or taking a holiday, it has limited value during a normal week at work. A series of automated Tweets soon becomes boring. Twitter is a social network and followers want to interact with humans not robots.

social media graphic

10 Continually abuse the use of Hashtags

Hashtags (#) help people search for specific terms when they are looking for a particular topic or issue. If you consistently include more than three in a Tweet it becomes dull and unreadable ie Published my new book today #novel #writer #author #Kindle #GreatExpectations. Another way of alienating yourself is to convert a phrase into a hashtag, such as #wontdothatagaininahurry. It’s jibberish.


I would be really interested to hear from anyone who has seen these gaffes on Twitter and anyone who has made some of these mistakes themselves. Please leave a comment.

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