Tuesday Toss-Up

Why I’m (Not) Kicking Tweeps Off My Branch

The sparrows are flying again, Thad… (sorry, couldn’t resist)

Recently, I’ve seen a few tweets saying the tweeter is unfollowing various tweeps for not following them back, for unfollowing, for not having interesting tweets, for being too quiet or maybe just having stinky digital socks. Now, I really have no judgements against such tweeters but it always makes me stop and wonder how all of this fits in with what Twitter’s all about.

Who do I follow in the first place? Generally, I follow folks that catch my eye in one of the various hashtags I follow, who were recommended by other tweeps I know and respect or whose blogs or work I admire. I might also follow a celebrity now and then or a tv show (@WalkingDead_AMC anyone?).

Is it really so important they follow me back? Although I deeply appreciate it when someone takes pity on me finds me interesting and follows me back, I realize that folks might have a good reason for not following me back (even though I am a special snowflake decent tweep).  Folks (*whistles innocently*) can get pretty lazy far behind in checking for new followers or might’ve turned off email notifications. Or maybe they’re at one of those mystical following limits, where they can’t follow anyone else until their followers have caught up with the number of folks they follow. Maybe they’re a big time celeb and generally don’t follow any of us “little folk” back. Or maybe they just don’t find me interesting enough…*shrug* everyone’s entitled to their opinion even if it’s wrong.

Afrikannse Maraboe
Oprah never followed me back? What’s up with that?

If a tweep unfollows me, is it right to unfollow them? First of all, I’m way too lazy to check who unfollowed me. Second, Twitter randomly unfollows folks like a dryer randomly eats sock, so maybe they didn’t even intend to unfollow me. Third, I’m way too lazy to check who unfollowed me.

Now, if someone’s rude about unfollowing me, tweeting something like: “I unfollowed @SoniaGMedeiros because her mother was a hamster and her father smelt of elderberries”, I might get a tad offended. And I might unfollow back. Or I might take the high road. You never know.

What would make me unfollow? If somebody spams me (and not because of a hacker) or is consistently rude to me or others (something which I’ve not encountered so far). If somebody keeps hitting on me even though I’ve told them I’m married and/or ignored all their advances (don’t laugh, it’s happened once or twice). Or if the twitter account seems to have gone dormant and I need to space (because of those mystical following limits). That’s pretty much it.

Do I always follow back? Chances are, if you have some sort of bio that isn’t just FREE IPAD or BUY MY TOEJAM and you have a profile picture (if I’m reasonably sure you’re not a spambot, in other words), I’ll follow you back. You don’t have to dazzle me with your wit, flash a brilliant smile or offer me chocolate (though chocolate would be nice…just saying), you just have to be human. If you wanna stop by and say hello along with your follow, I’d like that even better.

Cutest of the cute
Come on, you know you want to follow me.

What is Twitter all about anyway? It’s about connecting with other folk. Meeting new people. Being introduced to new ideas and finding great movies, books, music, art and blogs. Making each other laugh. Encouraging one another. And giving one another a digital shoulder to cry on. Sure it can be about promoting our wares but that doesn’t matter without the connection. Above all, Twitter is about community.

And community just works better when we’re patient and forgiving with one another.

Social Media jedi, Kristen Lamb (@KristenLambTX) has excellent resources on how to use Twitter here and here. And be sure to follow @PiperBayard because she’s a great connector on Twitter.

What are your thoughts on unfollowing tweeps? Any other Twitter etiquette issues got you scratching your head?

Photo Credit
Bird Tree by Kit Ng, on Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Afrikaanse Maraboe by Tim Strater, on Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
Cutest of the cute by Mike, on Flickr | CC BY 2.0


88 thoughts on “Why I’m (Not) Kicking Tweeps Off My Branch

  1. Excellent post. A fresh look and I totally agree.

    Some people get hugely upset about finer points of etiquette on Twitter. I definitely prefer this ‘live and let live’ attitude! It seems silly when people are upset about promotional tweets, although sometimes people go overboard with those, it’s easy enough to scan the feed for fresh links and comments, surely?

    1. I’m not bothered by promotional tweets either. I just skim past them. I’m sure there could come a point where the promotion would drive me over the edge but so far I don’t fret.

  2. Good post! I think we’re on the same page when it comes to unfollowing – I too unfollow if people spam (and keep sending DMs asking be to sign up for things or read their blog etc.) and if they are mean to me or others.

  3. I’m like you. I have no time to check who unfollowed. I would like more hints to get new followers but I guess they’ll come.

    Loved the last picture. I’d follow that little guy anywhere. 🙂

  4. Hi, Sonia. Great post! As you know from my own blog post on the subject, I agree with you. Well, I will lightly nudge the spammers and faux-pornographers from my branch (but even then I’ll feel a little bad doing it). 😉

    I was already following you or I promise, I would have immediately done so after reading this. Not that I’m anyone special. But I like your branch. And I like people who aren’t in the habit of kicking people off their perch. 🙂

    1. I hear ya. It can be time consuming and frustrating sometimes. Kristen Lamb’s group #myWANA is a great place to try again (if you ever change you mind :D) and she recommends we only spend about 15 minutes or so 2-3 times a day.

    1. I’m so glad! I really like Kristen Lamb’s Twitter advice (I put the links on the post) and the #myWANA group. It’s a fabulous place to start hanging out. And if you wanna meet people on Twitter, check out @PiperBayard (I’ll put her link in the post too).

  5. Great post! I am a relative nit-Twit, but am starting to figure out a few things. The number one is that Twitter is glitchy as hell and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve followed/unfollowed/refollowed…simply because the system tells me a full five minutes later “Sorry. That didn’t work. Try again later.” Twitter is fallible. Humans are fallible. Getting bent out of shape because someone follows/unfollows just says to me that you need some serious crap to start happening in your life for a little perspective. 🙂

  6. Once again, I am trying Twitter, although I do not seem to get it. Sometimes, I’m at a complete loss at email notifications of new followers but I always check them out. Of late, I’ve been tweeting about some of the blogs I read. Honestly, I don’t know what else to do.

    While I have subscribed to your blog for some time–obviously not one who comments a lot, either–I had to check to see if I was following you on Twitter, which I am. I am loyal but not real chatty.


    1. Everybody has their level of comfort for interaction. Sometime I fall way behind on the chatting. And I do get overwhelmed with Twitter now and then too. I don’t think you have to try and do it all at once. You can grow at your pace.

  7. I like what you’re saying about Twitter. Although, I have a Twitter account, I can’t say that it feels that helpful to me, probably because I haven’t made much effort at interacting. I’ve had much more positive interaction on blogs and facebook. On the other hand, I like to tweet for some odd reason, and enjoy having people that I follow who follow me back, so I’ve kept doing it, just for the fun of it.

    1. I’ve had a lot of fun on Twitter. Sometimes it feels like way too many conversations coming at me all at once but other days I enjoy the chaos. LOL. TweetDeck keeps me sane and I’m trying out HootSuite now too.

  8. Ha! I’m so with you–I don’t even really know how to check if someone unfollowed me. I use manageflitter though, because it helps me see if I’ve accidentally followed a bot or something.

  9. I love following everyone! But 😦 twitter has this policy about the ratio of followers to follow. So I have to go back and forth on my account and unfollow at times, people that don’t follow me, so that I am able to follow new followers.

  10. I agree with you – I’m not going to unfollow someone just because they don’t follow me. For the most part I rarely check my follower numbers anyways, so I would have no idea if someone unfollowed me.

    I’m a horrible follower-back though. I usually do that about once a month, and go through Twitter to see who is following that I haven’t followed back. If they aren’t a bot or a “social media guru” then I follow back 🙂

    1. I shut off my email notifications for awhile because I went through a Twitter growth spurt and got buried in new follower notifications (in addition to all the other email I’m already buried under. LOL). I turned them back on recently and have been trying to catch up with anyone I missed from awhile back.

  11. I follow people back and only unfollow them or block them if they are spammy- but even then hootsuite lets them back sometimes- I think its taking bribes. I don’t get all emotional about people following me or unfollowing me- if they even do. I don’t check. And if they’re like me they have so many columns going on that might never even see my tweets!

  12. Yep. That pretty much covers it…

    Always try to avoid the spammy people when possible, but sometimes even give the sales people a shot if they’re really offering services or insights and not just dribbling nonsense.

    I try to check regularly and say thanks to followers because it initiates an exchange and I do appreciate them taking the time to include me. I don’t understand the people who just want to accumulate huge numbers of followers but don’t tweet anything or only tweet gibberish, so I’ve learned to look at what they’ve been saying.

    On the other hand, if people are tweeting and sharing and making suggestions then…well that’s what social media is about, right? I love twitter for sharing information and meeting people with like interests. Fun!

  13. Good blog, Sonia. Twitter is community, not family. If one of my family says hateful things about me, or just says he or she no longer finds my conversation interesting and moves out of my house I’ll be hurt, but I’m gonna keep that link to them in case they suddenly find me more interesting or in a public or private way starts saying nice things about me and they want to come back home. That’s family for you.

    I’m human, so I’m less forgiving of a community member who says evil things about me or *horror* thinks me dull or stupid. I’ll drop them in a fly swat, shake the dust off my sandals (well, that’s getting too Biblically severe) — but I will unfollow them if I know about it. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t learn about it and that becomes particularly maddening. The witchhunt begins. Somewhere, tucked comfortably away in my 6500 and growing army of followers don’t like me and they are leaving me without the decency of a phone call or a DM. Getting even is easy and is just a click away (sorry if this sounds like a freakin’ commercial) with “Just Unfollow dot com”. They allow me to unfollow 50 unfriendly louts a day and the good thing is, first of all, that it’s free; and the second good thing is they start with the oldest unfollows and work toward the newest. That means I don’t inadvertantly unfollow someone I just followed two days ago, but who, unbeknownst to me, was away from Twitilization for two days, attending a funeral in Burbank and didn’t have the opportunity to reciprocate.

    “Just Unfollow” also provides the User name, the Bio pic and the bio itself of the one you are unfollowing so it gives you the added bonus of being able to thumb your nose, stick out your tongue or flip off, if you are so inclined, the malfactor as a part of your daily ritual, this homage to rectitude.

    So, it’s very simple, Sonia: if you want to be a part of the community of Jayville (actually it’s Jay_Squires) you follow the rules of community. It’s not a welfare system. You gotta pull your load. You’ll find I’m a gentle leader. If I follow you, just follow me, damn it!

    I’m gonna leave this bit of insane fluffery with just one more observation: I’f I am following you while you are simultaneously following me, where, dear Sonia, is the leadership! It’s of course semantics, and can be corrected with this simple modification of vocabulary:

    FOLLOW = ADORE and UNFOLLOW = DESPISE. Then, with my daily “ritual of 50” I can feel more redeedmed by avowing that I refuse to ADORE any longer the person who DESPISES me!

  14. I must agree Sonia, I’m just too lazy, I mean busy, to bother trying to find out who followed back and who didn’t. Besides, there could be thousands of reasons why a person is quiet on Twitter. Personally, I’ve never been afflicted with this problem, but…

  15. I have to admit I’m a dead beat tweeter. My tweeting habits are mediocre at best. I definitely need to find my groove and get in to it more that I have. I post links to my work, but hardly ever respond to other tweets…

    1. *gasp* You will be sent to Twitter jail for sure! 😀 I think Twitter on the whole is pretty forgiving. And it’s probably better to build slowly, at least at first, than to follow a ton of folks all at once. Then you end up drowning in follow backs. Psst…the #myWANA folk are a fun bunch though.

  16. I’m still trying to figure out my own rules for how I deal with Twitter. When I’m actively looking for people to follow, I’m generally looking for those I have something in common with.

    I usually follow-back pretty much anyone that tweets in a language I understand. If the tweep looks like they’re probably a human that engages in two-way conversation, I’ll thank them publicly for the follow.

    My system means that my Home Stream is cluttered with a bunch of stuff I don’t really care about, but I keep an eye on some hashtags and probably need to watch a few more. As I interact with and get to know specific people, I tend to add them to a list to make it easier to keep up with their tweets.

    1. Have you tried TweetDeck or HootSuite? They’re great for organizing your stream. I have separate columns for #myWANA #writing #TheWalkingDead, etc. Makes it a lot easier to see stuff I wanna see.

      1. Oh yeah, I use HootSuite and it works pretty well. I follow the WANA hashtags but haven’t settled upon what other hashtags I want to watch regularly. I do keep the Home Stream open because I like to trawl through it sometimes, looking for people I can RT that are outside of the circle I normally tweet with.

  17. It seems to me that the whole “follow” thing should be based on appreciation, and I do follow most everyone who follows me (albeit slowly… I tend to lose stuff in my email notifications daily, as my credit card companies were happy to discover). I don’t often follow businesses that seem solely there to spam people, but even some of them post cool stuff.

    But really, we should all be a bit more patient with each other online. It’s still a growing community. We’re all coming at it from different places, some with easier access, some with better equipment, some with worse, some with more experience, some with less… But we’re all doing our best (hopefully), and I will happily give people the benefit of the doubt if they will do the same for me.

    1. Agreed. It’s especially important to be patient with the newbies (as I was just a year ago). Twitter can be incredibly overwhelming at first and it’s not always easy to learn the etiquette right away.

  18. Thought provoking post here, Sonia. Great topic.

    I usually follow those who have the same interests as I do…writing, history, and the Civil War. I’ve noticed that when I follow an author back, occasionally I get a direct message, or in a better choice of words – a commercial – about their book. There is no “hey glad we connected” or “nice to know you” or even “thanks for the follow” – just “here is my book and link…buy it now!”

    Then they unfollow after that. What’s up with that?
    Oh well…

    1. That would be annoying. I’ve gotten those “check out my book” DMs after following someone. I’m not the biggest fan of them. I’d much prefer a conversation first. If we talk a little, I’m probably gonna go check out your site anyway.

  19. I agree. I seldom unfollow anyone if they’re not a bot, and the last guy I unfollowed was spouting conspiracy theories and bashing women and progressives every time he tweeted. That’s about what it takes for me to unfollow someone.

    I have a variety of followers and people I follow from all walks of life, and I don’t have the bile to digest the intolerance and general rudeness of others. If you want to tweet the occasional Bible verse, it won’t offend me, but if you start telling everyone they’re going to hell (or that all Christians are stupid, for that matter), I’ll hit that little red X.

    If people stay positive and community oriented, I don’t unfollow. Period. They have a right to unfollow me if I don’t follow back, but I prefer to have interactions with people I follow. Twitter etiquette makes my head hurt sometimes.

    1. LOL. I hear ya too. I’m not a fan of the diatribes either. Nor the vitriol. I think the community functions better when we’re sharing the positive too. That isn’t to say that we can’t talk about dark time or grief or whatnot but that, as you say, we shouldn’t be spouting hate and rudeness.

  20. Sonia, I think you just about said it all and so eloquently and politically correct. Some people can get pretty intense about twitter. But I’m happy to say that I do follow you and I hope that you’re following me. But I won’t take offense if your not or if you choose to unfollow. Of course I hope you won’t unfollow. LOL! Great post Sonia! 🙂

  21. Great post, Sonia! I follow people that I want to support and have something interesting to say. If someone I don’t know follows me, I’ll follow them back (if they look like a real person). My numbers go up and down daily; I have no idea who has stopped following me over the past year — that’s their prerogative. *did you picture Bobby Brown here?* I don’t think I’ve “unfollowed” one single person since I joined on. No one has offended me enough yet… that might be the only reason why I’d kick my tweeps off my branch.

  22. I don’t automatically follow everyone who follows me because I don’t want to accidentally click on porn or spambots. I’ll take a few minutes every couple of weeks to see who are the new followers, click on their profile, and follow if their sample tweets are not screaming at me to buy their latest book. Hey people! Twitter is not just to sell your book. Use it to show your writing skill, intelligence, wit, or plain ol’ friendliness.

    1. I agree. Twitter is mainly about community and community needs conversation not all sales all the time. I like to check the profile to make sure I’m not following a bot. Sometimes it’s hard to tell though LOL.

  23. I really haven’t taken to twitter. No doubt because I’m rarely on there. I do think it takes some getting used to and hopefully, sometime in the future I’ll get the hang of it. Great post, Sonia.

    PS. I tagged you in a Lucky 7 meme.

  24. I have unfollowed someone only once who didn’t unfollow me first and that was because they filled my twitter stream with “buy my book”. They then did the @LASbauer unfollowed me, and I totally felt justified in unfollowing them to start with. I will go through and cull out the people who have unfollowed me first, and I have thought about the possibility that I was just dropped from their list, but it’s never been people with whom I converse on a regular basis. Usually they are the “buy my book” type.

    I do follow anyone back, as long as their stream looks like they’re human, and not perverted. It made my day when a bestselling author followed me back. My theory is that if you follow back you make friends, and if you don’t you just look stuck-up. Even though I am probably in the general stream of this best selling author, following me back showed some class and connection with the “rest of us.” Totally raised my esteem of this person even higher.

  25. Great post. I’m fairly new to Twitter. My original intension was to network, but I’m finding it is so much more than that. I’ve come across some incredible bloggy sorts who inspire me, make me laugh, and offer great support. Twitter is a feel good place. Am going to pass this along to many of my newly Tweeting friends. Thanks for your wonderful perspective. And I agree, an offering of chocolate is always a kind thing to do :).

  26. I’m largely with you on this, Sonia, although I do unfollow some folks. Some I follow knowing they won’t follow me back. Others, mostly writers, I will unfollow if they unfollow me (I almost never follow another writer first, because I’ve got enough writers in my Twitter stable, and anyone who overdoes the BUYMYBOOKREADMYFIVESTARAMAZONREVIEWLOOKATMYINTERVIEWONOPRAHNOWBUYMYFRIENDSBOOKSBLAHBLAHBLAH gets unfollowed PDQ.) There are lots of folks who follow me and if they don’t look interesting enough (or they haven’t bribed me with chocolate 😉 I won’t bother following them back, and don’t care if they unfollow me. What I’m looking for in Twitter followers is good content that’s interesting, funny, and that I can respond to and maybe retweet. I will never retweet your BUY MY CRAP stuff unless you’re a really good friend. I might, however, retweet your “Top 10 Reasons Why John Steinbeck Is The Most Overrated Author Ever”, though.

    Life is too short to waste on stupid crap. So don’t tweet me any stupid crap if I’m following you and no one gets hurt. Or unfollowed. 😉

  27. Great blog!! I totally agree and am too laid back to be insulted by someone tossing me into the Twilight Zone because I’m not playing in their sand box often enough. Some of us tweeters are actually writing novels and plays, battling health issues and or taking care of special needs kids.They actually have a life outside of Twitter. At the same time, I will unfollow someone if he/she is promoting smut and foul language, etc.

  28. I’ve blocked a couple of “followers” that were clearly nothing but porn site spam bots, but other than that, if it seems like you’re an actual person, I’ll happily leave you be, and maybe follow you back. 😀

  29. I really enjoyed this blog. When I first signed up with twitter, I was told it was poor etiquette to send promotional DM’s or @ to people without them having asked. Yet I get them all the time, but usually ignore them. The only time I really unfollow is once in awhile I’ll look to see who isn’t following me and just to keep numbers even, I’ll delete unfollowers. The ones who get my goat are the ones who have to post constant political ramblings.

    Now I don’t mind political posts or political discussions. I’m referring to the bile filled, hateful rants. Those get tiring lol

    1. U R ignerint b/cos u dont think & vote like ME!!! U R a stoopid XXXXCENSOREDXXXXX boogerhead! Vive le Bush! Obbama is a socilist Muslin! GET THE U.S. OUT OF NORTH AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  30. I’m just glad to hear that I’m not the only one who finds that Twitter decides to stop following people I love. It’s sooooo frustrating. I’ll be like: Why haven’t I seen @LShirtliffe for a while? And sure enough, Twitter has decided we should not be friends. What’s up with that glitch?

    Annoying! And hard to catch unless it’s someone you adore!

  31. Like you, I’m usually too lazy and disinterested to check who’s unfollowed me. As for things that make me unfollow someone, the ones that top the list are: spamming me with nothing but Tweets saying “BUY MY BOOK! IT’S FULL OF AWESOME!” every ten minutes, spamming me with automated Tweets telling me you’ve read a few pages in Goodreads/unlocked a pointless sticker on GetGlue/liked a YouTube video etc and of course, just being a prat in general. Though lately there has been a rise in people giving running Tweet commentaries of whatever TV show/movie they’re watching, which really annoys me (as much as it does when someone does it in person lol)

    However, I must confess I don’t understand the point of telling someone you’ve unfollowed them; it just seems attention-seeking and petty. If you don’t like someone’s Tweets, that’s fine; all you need to do is click Unfollow and the problem is solved.

  32. Hi! Very good post. I have to be a voice of dissent though . . . I think once you’re following pretty much everyone, you’re not doing that person any favors if you don’t intend on really reading their tweets/interacting. I try to keep the number of people I follow in check because I want to really interact (“community”) and I can’t interact with 2000 people. I have a feeing that most people who follow big numbers use private lists to follow the people they are “really following” while everyone else is ignored. Maybe I’m a pessimist . . .or just in a crabby mood today. 😉

    1. That makes sense. That’s a good point. It is really hard to keep up with 2000 people. I do try to say hi here and there. But there tend to be a smaller number of people I keep up with more regularly.

  33. So excellent, Sonia. I agree wholeheartedly. (And I finally subscribed to your blog. I LOVE the name and look of it, by the way. Mine is Threading the Labyrinth — go figure.)

  34. Hi Sonia,

    One of my tweeps/blog commenters sent me to this post as an interesting counter-view to my most recent post. (You can read it here, if you’re interested: http://annieneugebauer.com/2012/03/20/twitter-tips-part-1-how-to-get-followed-back/) And the funny thing is, I agree with most of what you say here, so it’s not actually all that “counter” to mine, in my mind.

    I totally agree with you about the silliness of the growing demand for follow-backs. When people unfollow someone just because they never followed back, it makes me wonder about their intentions. Are they only on Twitter to build numbers? Did they only follow me so I’d follow back and add to their following count? That seems a little skewed, to me. I don’t check to see who has unfollowed me, either, so I’m with you on that.

    I also think it’s just plain tacky to “announce” that you’re unfollowing someone. Why would anyone do that? Goodness.

    Where we differ is in when we follow someone else back. I don’t demand that someone dazzle me with their wit, either, but I do think, in general, that it’s actually more kind to not follow back than to follow back, realize it isn’t a good fit, and then unfollow. (That’s just so awkward.) And I consider my social media time very valuable, as I try to dedicate most of my work-day to writing, submissions, editing, etc. So for me, “skipping over” tweets, as you say, is too much of a time-waster. If someone is constantly tweeting things that I have to skip over, they’re taking up time and possible attention that I could be giving to making genuine connections with other tweeps. Does that make sense?

    I’m sorry this comment is so long! I just thought it was interesting how differently we look at this, even though we both follow each other on Twitter. =) Long story short, I totally respect your viewpoint and emphasis on community, and in fact agree with it. I just value a slightly different type of community (smaller, more intimate, and direct person-to-person, like Nina above). Either way, I’m glad to be on your branch. Thanks for this post!


    1. We’ve all only got so much time. I do find Twitter very useful for socializing and “networking.” But it can seem overwhelming at first and it takes a little time to build up a comfort with Twitter. Come hang out at #myWANA.You might find you like Twitter after all.

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