9 Twitter Myths That Make Me Unfollow

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Ian Lurie Jul 9 2009

More hyped than Barack Obama, less understood than quantum mechanics… It’s Twitter, folks! (applause)

I’m here to dispel a few myths. There are lots of other Twitter mythbusting posts out there, so I decided to put my own spin on it. If you buy into any of these myths, and demonstrate by inflicting your beliefs upon me, I will unfollow you so fast your Obama particles will travel back in time:

I care where you’re eating right now.
Actually, I won’t unfollow you for Tweeting that you’re at the neighborhood deli. But it’s just not something that’ll change my life. Confine your Tweets to interesting links, news or funny/deep observations. Daily routine isn’t necessary. Revised per @toddhooper and @mediafortemktg: I do care if it’s a really great restaurant.

The world needs another Miracle System To Generate Money Online Without Lifting A Finger.
Send me a message selling one of those, and I’ll lift a finger. Then I’ll unfollow you.

Folks want to see your underwear/cleavage/other unmentionables in your avatar.
We don’t. If we do, we’ll ask, OK?

It’s cute to follow/unfollow/follow/unfollow/follow someone.
I’ll actually follow you back, if you do this. That way, I can find your house and yank your cable modem so hard it flies through the wall at relativistic speed, leaving only a distinct popping sound as air rushes in to replace it. It may seem like this is a neat tactic to boost your Twitter rank or whatever, but it’s really just a great way to irritate people.

People want automated direct messages saying “Thanks for the follow! :) ;) :>” when they follow you.
No.

Once I sign up for Twitter, Good Things will happen.
I sympathize on this one. From what you hear on the media, Twitter will cure cancer, keep men from peeing on toilet seats and provide unlimited clean energy. Sadly, it’s a lot of work to get even a little bit of benefit from Twitter. You need to build your audience over time, for that One Time – a crisis, a success, something else – you really need to speak to them all. Then it pays off.

People on Twitter don’t care about spelling.
I just saw a Tweet that made me realize how much I do care about spelling. I unfollowed them. If you’re using Twitter professionally, or if folks you work with are on Twitter, you want to act professionally too. Use a spell checker, at least.

If you set up a Twitter account, it means your brand/company/organization is cool.
Yeaaaaah, sorry. If you set up a Twitter account and send me cool information, or help fix my problem with your product, then you’re cool.

“Autofollow 55,000 people on Twitter, and then spam them with product offers” is a good business plan.
Not unless you’ve invented a way to punch people in the face over the internet, and you’re sending me a free trial.

OK, I’m done. What Twitter myths drive you crazy?

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36 Comments

  1. Excellent list. One key myth I think you may have omitted…
    I care about how many followers you have
    It’s great that you’re just about to surpass the 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 follower mark. It shows that you’re really good at amassing follows for the sake of amassing followers. Which is good because you’ll have no problem at making up for that tiny dip when I unfollow you.

  2. ROBERT

    yes , Redblaze1 I agree with you too! I got followed by Miley cyrus but it must have been one of those robots or something! ! !

  3. Really great list, Ian. Only one I’ll add is regarding the folks who use a service to follow people. In and of itself, it’s not a bad thing, but when you click on their page to learn a bit more about them, and you see the same auto-follow message repeated on page after page, just shoot me.

  4. Raul

    Ian,
    Funny post. Agree with most. Except for # 1. Actually I don’t really care whether people care for what I eat. I am one of the ones who doesn’t care when he’s surpassed x or y mark. Although I have to say that I’m surprised I have 3,000 followers. I’ve managed to fool them all! :)

  5. Great article! Oh, and +1 to Aaron above :)
    I try to communicate with my followers as much as I can and read tweets when I have time.
    One thing that makes me unfollow a tweep (I can’t classify it as a myth in any way, but it does annoy me) is updating twice every hour or more. I really don’t understand how people can send tweets in 5 minute intervals and expect people to read all of them. It’s exactly because of those tweeps that I have trouble reading the tweets that are actually interesting. What’s your opinion about this? :)

  6. Ian,
    Great post. I blogged several times about the whole autofollow kerfuffle, especially the biggest, blatant myth that says that NOT returning a follow is rude.
    In reality, that’s a myth propagated by the autofollow zealots who want you to follow them, either to spam you or to boost their follow numbers.
    If you’re interested, here’s the blog post I’m referring to (please delete if this is inappropriate, with my apologies):
    http://www.michelfortin.com/autofollow-fiasco/

  7. Beth

    In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed some make remarks about “making your Tweets quality Tweets.” How, in 140 characters, can anyone make a quality Tweet? We all have different reasons for using Twitter and I’d much rather see a discussion about roadkill (I was involved in one) than to see people RT, RTs, post links to who knows where and tell me how much money they’ve made. It’s becoming more difficult to find normal conversations that help break up a day because everyone is on the link-dropping bandwagon. Roadkill is much funnier.

  8. Ann

    Thank you,Ian – I’m with you on every single myth. Especially spelling! And your humor is contagious in the good-kind-of-virus-way.

  9. The one that really, really bugs me is the “All Business, Zero Personality” follow.
    When every single Tweet has a Tiny URL link and all those posts read something like “10 Ways to Mitigate Your Social Media Risk, With Synergy” or some execu-speak AND there isn’t a single post showing me that you interact with other people in a non-robotic fashion, you’re not getting a follow from @mwiegand.

  10. Great post. I laughed out loud when I read this.
    There also seems to be a huge increase in porn spam on Twitter. No, I don’t want to link to see your buck naked personals page. An instant click on the “block” button.

  11. I recently wrote up my own “how to use twitter and not act like a spammer” post a few days ago… newbies have a hard time ‘getting it’.
    Spelling is a good one… I’d add punctuation to that too… all these run-on sentences without some way to break them up… I’m fond of the ellipses myself (obviously)
    I’m split on the auto-follow messages though. Sometimes, if the message is tactful, and not selling, and not a simple “thanks”, then I used to actually enjoy it, and would checkout about 50% of my auto DM’s, so that I can get involved in their social life, and get the ball rolling from this end.

  12. foxtailor

    The only time I sent a DM “thank you”, I did so because the person is a celeb and I didn’t want them to be inundated with “follow” requests.

  13. Robyn

    Great list! However I do agree with Beth about quality tweets vs roadkill. It just depends on why you’re using Twitter.
    In response to Yanis Petras–I also had the dilemma of people tweeting so much that I missed tweets from others. That’s why I looked into desktop programs. I started with Tweetdeck and then decided I preferred Seesmic Desktop. That way I can put users in different groups–usually it’s my friends (people I know outside the www) who tweet a lot so they’re in one group, while I have BlackBerry-related news, celebrities, and other news each in their own group. Helps tremendously!

  14. Justin

    Everyone wants to add a comment that benefits them, like, “you are cool, but I would,. . .”. But really you are just a funny guy and I wish you the best!

  15. Lol, I’m right there with you, just could not put it into words!

  16. Good job Ian! All that you have written here is the God’s honest truth. Another scenario I see on Twitter that really ticks me off is people setting up multiple accounts, then setting up auto reply responses between the accounts, to make them appear that there are actually conversations going on there.
    Come on!! If you’ve got that much time on your hands, either provide something useful, or go play tiddleywinks in traffic!

  17. diane

    Yeah, what’s with the cleavage babes wanting to follow my updates? Why on earth does some refugee from a phone-sex commercial want to follow my updates? I’ve learned to ignore them, and then, a few days later, if they’re still hangin’ out there, I click on their names, and sure enough, the little owl pops up to tell me that the account has been suspended due to strange activity. Well, duhhhh, why’d they even let someone named Fifi1988 sign up in the first place?

  18. Fabulous list.
    The auto-followers kill me. Lord help you if you ever put the words “MLM” in a Tweet. The bots will come out in droves.
    And I’ll say this because I am a real estate agent — fellow agents, PLEASE lay off the hard sell, I don’t care about your new listing, and leave the people alone that mention the word “realtor” in a Tweet…

  19. Funny and true.
    I autofollow out of some perhaps misguided notion of a handshake– you extend your hand to follow me & I shake it, follow you back. But some wiseacres are using this autofollow kindness(?) to amass a flock of followers and then unfollow them to make the F/UNF ratio look like they’re legit (with 18 updates, I don’t think so, you Tweasel). Someone needs to create a twitter app , I dunno– Punch in the Twitter Face to sorta work like the Poke in Facebook, but a lot harder. Or maybe a Fishslap:
    http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/wp-content/google-fish-slaps-trulia.gif

  20. I just don’t understand why the push to have so many followers. When I first started with twitter, I thought 300 followers were a lot — now people have 33,000. The other thing I don’t understand is some of the automated advertising spam — who buys that stuff? Oh, well. It’s a free twittersphere — thank heavens!!

  21. Peter

    Ian
    1) Is it considered obligatory (or proper etiquette) to thank someone for a follow?
    2) Should one feel obligated to return the follow if the person is not a crackpot? Thanks

  22. hpaich

    If I get one more follower who then immediately wants me to connect-the-dots on all their body piercings? I will develop a system that sends an electric shock to their keyboard. Take your belly ring and suck on it! Really, it’s just TTMI.

  23. Ian

    @Peter You don’t have to thank folks for follows. And you’re definitely not obligated. I generally thanks folks for retweets and #followfriday mentions and the like. Otherwise I try to keep the Twitterverse clear…

  24. Love these myths. Occasionally I read the “what I ate 4 lunch” tweet. I like variety in my twitter stream.
    I love how, on Twitter, if a person gets on your nerves you can unfollow them. Don’t you wish real life worked like that? I don’t do it often, but once I unfollowed a whiny, judgemental, boring Tweet. And it felt liberating!
    Too many tweets per hour – that’s me sometimes. Used to bug me when other people did that but once your Twitterland gets big – it’s hard to avoid if you want to connect. And for me it’s about connecting with lots of people.

  25. Love these myths. Occasionally I read the “what I ate 4 lunch” tweet. I like variety in my twitter stream.
    I love how, on Twitter, if a person gets on your nerves you can unfollow them. Don’t you wish real life worked like that? I don’t do it often, but once I unfollowed a whiny, judgemental, boring Tweet. And it felt liberating!
    Too many tweets per hour – that’s me sometimes. Used to bug me when other people did that but once your Twitterland gets big – it’s hard to avoid if you want to connect. And for me it’s about connecting with lots of people.

  26. Keep up the good work with your post – very informative!

  27. Brent

    And Alapca Farmgirl seems to have a stutter.
    I don’t use Twitter at all because I cannot see any value in posting anything there. I am not full-time on the internet and prefer to use my time more productively.
    Having said that though I have an absolute lack of respect for those politicians who have staffers tweeting for them because they think it makes them look ‘hip and connected to the voters’. Nup, makes them look like the tossers they are.
    I detest poor spelling and grammer but there is an inbuilt problem with that, not all English speaking countries spell the same way or use grammer in the same way so some allowance has to be made for those differences.

  28. Ian

    @Brent I think it’s spelled ‘grammar’. But good points nonetheless. Politicians who get staffers building their sites and tweeting end up with all sorts of problems, like when McCain’s staffer copied a MySpace template without permission.

  29. I realize I’m late to the conversation here but I don’t see any mention of “The Quoters”. You know, the people who supply a constant stream of banal quotes like “Be the change you want to see in the world – Gandhi”. You’re not fooling anyone! We know you don’t have anything to say and are just Tweeting to check it off your Social Networking To Do List.

  30. Thanks for the post.
    But I don’t think that I should unfollow a person for spelling error.
    This is 21st century, a century when developed a SMS language.

  31. dianeski

    Oh my gosh, the cleavage one!! I was actually going to tweet about that one the other day, to this effect: “The greater the avatar cleavage, the less likely that I’ll follow you. And as for your alleged ‘sexy videos,’ you are barking up the wrong tree, snookums.”
    Then there are the “Follow me ONLY so that I can sell you stuff” folks. I don’t mind if you want to sell me stuff, but 50 tweets in a row about your product offerings strain my patience way beyond snapping point.

  32. Karen

    I wish twitter would clean up it’s act but that would be far too dificult for them I’m sure.
    This might be something new for you think about..
    With respect to Retweets … a friend of mine who is very credible and trustworthy was recently targeted by spammers. They lifted her tweets and copied them into twitter updates .. then they added a prefix, something like “excellent stuff RT” and then they changed the link to something that was absolute spam/porn. It appeared that my trusted friend was the originator of this terrible link and she lost lots of credibility. At this stage she could not delete the tweet as it now had ownership of the retweeter. Does this make sense?
    I think we need to recognise that double RTS can be very dangerous. UNLESS you are 100% certain that you know and trust BOTH of the tweeps. (is that what they are called LOL)
    Moral: Always check links before you RT and avoid the double RT’s. To avoid the double RT’s go directly o the originators profle and RT the post yourself.

  33. dianeski

    diane (above), I just saw your tweet about the cleavage babes. You nailed it! Yes indeedy, just ignore ‘em for a few days, and up pops Mr. Owl. But, as you say, why wouldn’t Twitter be a tad suspicious of Fifi1988 in the first place? LOL!

  34. Kathy-Ann Fletcher

    What bothers me is getting someone follow me from 3 different accounts. It makes my list of followers look bigger than it is. I am not one fascinated by large lists, therefore to have auto followers follow me with different accounts monopolizes my feed and annoys the heck out of me.
    Another thing I hate are those that tweet 5 things in a row. The chances of me reading one of those 5 tweets just went really down.

  35. Taylor

    It was funny how many of these pet peeves reared their heads at SXSW this year. Then there is the newer concept of “Twitter Envy”, where people at the festival found themselves losing followers because of over posting about their good time while others read about it from cubicles. Some of the more voracious Twitter users even started begging their followers not to un-follow as word spread that it was happening more often.

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