Twetiquette: Why have I unfollowed you?

I vividly remember my first few days on Twitter. They were scary. There I was, having to post my first tweet to the Twitterverse, blindly. It felt like going to a party where everybody knows each other and you are left alone, standing sipping your drink in embarrassing silence while everybody else is having a great time.

Thankfully, I was quickly followed by some lovely people and they gently eased me into the whole twittering thing. It was during those first days, or maybe weeks that I remember reading a blog post by Isabel Ashdown about Twitter etiquette and her reasons for unfollowing users. She made some very good points, inspiring me to write my own Twetiquette. So here goes:

Who I follow

I’m on Twitter to connect with other writers and people that I share an interest with. Readers and book lovers, gardeners, mums/dads, food bloggers and generally interesting folk. If I come across someone that ticks one of these boxes, I read their profile, have a look at a couple of tweets and follow them.

Do I always follow back?

If you tick one of the boxes above and you are a person, then yes. If you run a building company in Hawaii, for instance, then no. I have no interest in hiring a builder in Hawaii, because I live in the UK. I don’t believe in following you just for the sake of accumulating followers.

Do I unfollow?

Of course I do. Just not very often. On the few occasions I deliberately pressed the unfollow button it was because:

  • You didn’t follow me back? My rule is, I tweet you three times. If I get no replies back, and you don’t follow me, then I unfollow. More on this later.
  • You post the same tweet, over and over again and nothing else. “My debut novel, Sunny Night, can be bought from Amazon for 99p”.
  • You have posted a sexist, racist or inappropriate tweet.
  • We have absolutely nothing in common.

If you don’t follow me back

I’m pretty cool about it, if you are super famous. Twitter is a two way thing, isn’t it? My main reason for joining Twitter is to connect with like-minded people and learn from them. I won’t automatically unfollow you if you don’t follow back. I’ll try and learn from your tweets and connect with you. But if I try and connect with you (by replying to one of your tweets) and you ignore me three times, then I will unfollow. I think that’s fair.

When I follow, I really follow

I know it’s not possible to do it all the time, but if I follow you, I’ll try and read your blog, get to know you and generally interact with you. It’s obviously not possible to do it all the time, with everybody, but I try and do my fair share.

PS: I have unfollowed a few people, courtesy of Twitter. That means, Twitter decided to unfollow a few people on my behalf for no apparent reason. If this has happened with you, and I haven’t followed back then please let me know.


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12 Responses to Twetiquette: Why have I unfollowed you?

  1. I like your rules! I definitely agree about the not replying one. I know sometimes people are busy and may not always notice a tweet in their timeline, but to not reply three times is just plain rude. You wouldn’t ignore someone on the street, so why ignore them on Twitter? On second thoughts, perhaps these people do ignore others on the street …

    • Elpi says:

      Hi Joanna,
      yes, that was my thought process when I came up with the rule of three. People can’t be expected to reply to every single tweet. But to do it three times shows a particular kind of person I don’t really want to interact with.

  2. Marisa Birns says:

    I agree with Joanna about liking your rules. I, too, don’t mind following people who don’t follow back. Have learned a lot from their tweets. But, as many people here, I joined Twitter to interact as well as learn, and not having people reply after multiple attempts is rather rude.

    • Elpi says:

      Many people see Twitter as a game of numbers and a race for getting enough followers, probably under the false impression that they will become more popular, or so that they can unashamedly sell their goods and services. This aspect of Twitter I don’t like. Thankfully, most us writers aren’t like that. We have egos smashed into putty, by the many rejections we receive on our path to publication and we are just happy to listen and learn. LOL.

  3. Beth Kemp says:

    This is a sensible set of guidelines for Twitter. I too find it frustrating when people never respond (I like your ‘three strikes’ rule), and I have unfollowed people for racist/sexist jokes and ceaseless plugs. Another unfollow prompt for me (and many others!) is the auto-DM that asks you to “like” a facebook page or buy something.

    • Elpi says:

      The auto-DM! How very frustrating and it seems I’m getting more of them! Immediate unfollow for me too. I don’t mind if I’ve been interacting with someone and they set up a Facebook page or publish a book or something and tweet to ask people if they would support them. That I will gladly do. It’s the immediate request I get annoyed with, like you and many others do.

  4. Gemma Varnom says:

    This seems like a very sensible way to navigate the Twittersphere. I always feel a little bad when I unfollow someone (except if they’ve made a comment I’ve found offensive) but your rule of three is very fair, I think.

    ‘It felt like going to a party where everybody knows each other and you are left alone, standing sipping your drink in embarrassing silence while everybody else is having a great time.’ — Yes, that’s just how I felt at first too. To be honest I *still* feel a bit like that sometimes and I’ve been tweeting for over a year!

    • Elpi says:

      Next time you feel a bit like that you should send me a tweet and we can have a natter. I also feel like that sometimes. I think it’s the whole idea that you don’t know who is reading (or interested) in your tweet.

  5. What a great post. I’ve stopped following people because they’ve posted racist or political comments. (I get so angry when people tell me how to vote. Um, I’m old enough to make up my own mind.) The thing that turns me off most though is the people who would rather tell me 50 times an hour that their book is on Amazon than actually say hello. They drive me nuts. (Ooh, I’m a real Grumpy Old Woman this morning. :))

    Before I joined Twitter, a friend who’d tried it said she hated it because she “felt like the new kid in the school playground no one wants to play with”. I suppose a lot of people feel that way at first. I did – and now I’m addicted.

    • Elpi says:

      Hi Shirley,
      Thankfully, opportunists and sales people aren’t spoiling the fun. But I wonder if with the added pressure on authors to market their work, this is a trend we so more of in the future. I certainly hope not.

  6. I also like these twitter rules and tend to be naturally committing them anyway. I follow back if they’re real people not selling or preaching something and I do unfollow if people don’t respond or don’t follow and I’m getting nothing from their tweets.

    One good tool if you’re really interested in what your favourite celebs are doing but hate adding to their followers count because they generally don’t follow back or interact is the twitter lists tool. You can add them to a list without the need to follow them. I have such a list, but admittedly rarely use it as I’m too busy holding conversations with real people who are using twitter to engage.

    Great post.

    • Elpi says:

      Hi Rebecca,
      Thanks for your comment and also for the great suggestion. There is still so much I don’t know about Twitter and yours is a tip I will definitely use.

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