December 22, 2014

20 Reasons People Unfollow You On Twitter

I tightened up my Twitter follow list yesterday. I like to do that every month to filter out the voices I’ve stopped listening to and to hopefully add in some new ones. The whole process made me curious as to why other Twitter users may decide to unfollow someone. So, I thought I’d ask. And the results of my quick Twitter poll were so interesting I thought I’d share them.

Basically, people will unfollow you for anything. ;)

Here were some of the reasons mentioned by my Twitter followers:

1. You’re a self-promoter: Lots of people mentioned that they were turned off by Twitter users who do nothing but promote their own content. While lots of us have businesses and blogs we’re trying to get the word out about, it’s important that you also take time to listen and support what everyone else is doing. You don’t want to be the guy that puts the “me” in social media.

2. You have anger issues: Twitter users like @kevinmarshall mentioned that too much bickering or negativity was another reason they’ll unfollow someone. No one wants to surround themselves with someone who never runs out of axes to grind.  Too much angry tweeting and we unfollow you hoping you’ll go outside and calm down.

3. You’re too self-centered: For folks like @EcoEndeavors and @rhythm7a, too much self-centered tweeting about what you’re doing today, what you’re wearing, or how awesome you are is also grounds for an unfollow. Again, people like it when you’re more interested in them than yourself. Even if you have to fake it.

4. You offend people: This should go without saying but blatant racist, sexist, homophobic or other offensive comments are a great way to get yourself unfollowed. Both @michellerobbins and @conniereece agreed on that.

5. You’re too unprofessional: Too much tweeting about how drunk you got last night, whom you were with or how much you hate your coworkers tends to make everyone a little uncomfortable. And then they unfollow you so they don’t have to feel uncomfortable anymore.

6. You’re a flood tweeter: Both @Vancetera and @KevinMSpence commented that flood Twitters typically earn themselves an unfollow. A flood tweeter is someone who will rapidly tweet back to back so that all you see is a ‘flood’ of their avatar. It looks like this. [Thanks @CynthiaLaLuna for the screenshot.]

7. You’re fake: If you’re upbeat all the time, prepare to be unfollowed. Folks like @ThoughtsHappen, @TheRedHeadSaid and @KevinMRyan and all commented that if you’re never angry, it’s a clear sign that you’re not a real person. They want to see some balance. In order to love something, you have to at least not like someone else. Give people both sides.

8. You auto-DM:   Nothing hurts more than choosing to follow someone you think is cooland then being hit with the dread auto spam DM. Ouch.

9. You get political: With 140 characters it’s hard enough to have a conversation about what you’re eating.  Let’s agree to save the conversations for how to fix the world for times we’re face to face. On Twitter, they typically just devolve into angry name-calling.

10. You don’t share anything new: Folks like @justjulie and @rickstoner commented that one reason they’ll unfollow is if the person isn’t sharing anything new. Typically that means incessant retweets of what Mashable and all the other A-listers are putting out there. We know they’re smart, but what are YOU bringing to the table?

11. You use too much automation: Twitter users like @skitzzo said they unfollow if the account feels too automated. No one wants to follow a robot. A robot. A robot. Sorry…

12. There’s not enough conversation: Twitter users like @jeremymeyers and @hilzfuld commented that if there’s not enough conversation happening or someone consistently doesn’t reply back to your messages, they’ll unfollow you. Makes sense considering so many turn to Twitter looking for conversations and real relationships.  If you want friends, you have to be a friend first.

13. You’re not interesting: Enough said.

14. You tweet too much: For @rhythm7a that number was more than 25 tweets a day, but everyone will have their own comfort levels. I probably tweet 25 times before lunch.  ;)

15. You don’t tweet enough: I didn’t know this could be a probably but@joshuetitsworth and @etcpolitics both commented that if you don’t tweet ENOUGH, they may also unfollow you. @LoriBourne even provided a tool called Untweeps which will weed out those who don’t tweet often enough.

16. You’re obsessed with the iphone/ipad: Okay, so maybe @CherylMcKinnon just made me laugh with this one. But it’s true!

17. You’re a spammer: You tell people how many followers you can get them overnight (thanks @jakelacaze) or you send me tweets that look like this:

18. You have no personality: This was a big one with people like @shakez. If you’re not showing your personality and giving people a taste of who you are, then they’re bound to go elsewhere. It’s called social media for a reason.

19. You’re a link dropper: This was noted by @dj_justjay, @kristinmc and @rongraham1 as a big reason for unfollowing. If you’re all links and no talk, you’re not providing much value to your Twitter stream. And people aren’t going to stick around for very long.

20. You use the official Retweet button: Believe it or not but some people are still mad over Twitter’s new Retweet feature and will actually unfollow you for using it. Both @godhammer and @sugarrae are believers of this commandment.

I was pretty amazed by all the reasons people gave for unfollowing someone. Personally, I don’t think there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to Twitter or make friends on the Web. However, it is important to know what kind of tweets your particular audience finds useful so that you can help increasing your value on their eyes.  I know I break at least half of these “don’ts” on a daily basis, but it works for me. You have to find what works for you.  Consider asking your followers why they followed you in the first place.

What makes you unfollow someone?

49 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

49 Reactions

  1. This was a great and thoughtful post. I know accounts that meet all these things. And it was nice you gave credit to the submitters the way you did. That was very much ‘Go Team’ and positive.

    One note on number 20. While it is better to add something to a retweet sometimes with the 140 character limit you would destroy a tweet by editing it down by 20 characters. I think if you really want people to add to your tweet keep your tweet under 120-110.

  2. I unfollow people when I forget who they are. I may have followed them during a tweetchat or on someone else’s #FF recommendation, but if I can’t remember why I followed you or who you are it will get you dropped. That’s why it’s so important to have relevant 1-1 interaction with your followers to keep them involved (Chris Brogan is the master of this. He even remembers birthdays).

  3. Obviously I am doing something wrong. People still keep following me. Maybe if I work on being even more not interesting…

  4. I’m one of those that gets irritated with the RT button. I’ve been slowly but systematically turning it off individually for those I don’t want to unfollow. Cant. Stand. It.

  5. I think that unfollowing people because they annoy you is an unwise business decision. A lot of small business owners can’t afford to unfollow someone simply because they utilize the RT button. I think it’s good practice to not burn any bridges and unfollow people for silly reasons. I mean, use Tweetdeck or Seesmic and customize the columns. You don’t need to stay on top of 1000 people’s tweets if you use one of these tools. You can simply streamline your tweets (to who you actually want to read), and not even bother with the rest (and they won’t know any better).

  6. people using foursquare, tweetlonger, myloc annoy me. also when they fave a vid from google.
    i also unfollow people who changed their names to something obscene and using too many #twitterafterdark hashtag.
    cant stand emo tweets. someone from my timeline who normally a really nice person & always reply suddenly goes mental just because someone removed her from facebook, and keep mention it for weeks, occasionally drop the F bombs on the issue. Ive had enough, get over it! finally clicked the unfollow button.
    people who barely tweet anything about themselves also get unfollowed. one of my followers seems like a nice guy and replied me something sweet/funny. but when you click at his profile you see nothing but full page of @ replies to other hundreds people. all sweet/nice/funny/flirty. now he looks like an internet predator for me.
    mushy lovey dovey tweets, couple’s twitter display affections, and too many quote from runrevwisdom and thelovestory def. get unfollowed.

  7. I did not believe in unfollowing but sometimes it just makes sense.
    From a business twitter account (I agree with Steph)you really have to analyze and not make it a quick decision but if you see the account you are going to unfollow is not going to impact how you use twitter or the benefits you get out of it then it might be the time.
    I have unfollowed people with various of the previous mentioned items although most of them had more than a few.

    The item that was the most curious and new to me was unfollowing because people are using the new RT Button.

    Great post!

  8. I did not believe in unfollowing but sometimes it just makes sense.
    From a business twitter account (I agree with Steph)you really have to analyze and not make it a quick decision but if you see the account you are going to unfollow is not going to impact how you use twitter or the benefits you get out of it then it might be the time.
    I have unfollowed people with various of the previous mentioned items although most of them had more than a few.

    The item that was the most curious and new to me was unfollowing because people are using the new RT Button.

    Great post!

  9. My 5 Reasons for Unfollowing People on Twitter. (1) When I’m lied to (2) When I’m assailed online (3) When my follower tempts my follwers, into vice (4) When my follower is into Illegal and Immoral Activity (5) When my Trust in them, has been betrayed

  10. Lisa,

    I have to unfollow some people due to the fact that I have reached the “follow limit” according to Twitter’s rule. I am following 3,339 people at the moment and I have 3,033 followers. Do you have tips on tools that could check the status of my followers and the people I follow?

  11. The Spam DM makes me unfollow people. That and just plain old fashioned boringness!

  12. I need a generic “great post Lisa” template. I’m sick of typing those words.

    The points raised tie in nicely with my own experiences. Especially not Tweeting enough. Why follow someone who doesn’t talk back?

  13. I always unfollow folks who use the F-Bomb on Twitter.

    The Franchise King

  14. If the people tweets don’t benefit me as an individual, I will unfollow them. I follow people who either have something funny to say, who’s tweets entertain or inform me of a particular subject that I am interested in.

  15. Thanks for the tips.It took some time for me to understand the twitter rules. I myself use to commit a mistake of flooding tweeter with my tweets but now I have checked on it.

  16. I unfollow people who take all this too seriously. ;-)
    Oh, and I also unfollow for many of the reasons you list, Lisa. I’m surprised at Sugarrae being upset ’bout the RT button.

    I guess I’m trying to step back and not pull the trigger too fast on many things in my social media life. Meaning I try not to rant, to unfollow, to slam something until I’ve thought for a moment or two. You should see what I first wrote about this post…

  17. One more: People who have way more followers than the people they are following. That bugs me especially when those same people talk about “participating” and “engaging”. Look at what Anita Campbell does or Chris Brogan. They keep a pretty close ratio. I realize it may be near impossible for the celebrities of the world, but for the average small biz owner, totally possible.

  18. Lisa,

    What a great post. I love it. I don’t understand what #20 is and why people dislike it. It goes on the list of “explain to me, cause I’m hopeless” that I pass out at staff meeting.

    I just dropped someone because of #6. He literally would spam every single article on the front page of the NYT in seconds then onto the next newspaper at intervals. I couldn’t take it.

    There is another one that I dislike but I was told in a forum that I was wrong and should learn to love it and do the same. Speak only tweeting language.

    “saw #BP #oilslick #Forbes #dlskd #lklsd #kdgk #slkdgk #ksldkg #lskd #ksd #skd #kdjg #smallbiz”

  19. I, too, have a hard time understanding use of RT button as sole reason for unfollowing. I use it on occasions, specifically when someone I’m following is asking a question or seeking help, referral etc. That way, those who have the answer/can help reply directly to them. Takes me out of the middle, especially if the person replying didn’t pay attention & thought I was the one asking & I can’t track back via the “in reply to” to connect the info/person to the one who originally asked.

    Similarly, if I can’t RT w/out significant editing, losing original essence, and insert RT, & comment. Auto RT followed by my own 140 tweet to comment does mean a follower has to (a) catch it and/or (b) do a bit more work to connect the dots.

    To unfollow someone who ONLY RT’s regardless of technology to do it–that I understand (and have done).

  20. Interesting post, but if you were to follow all those steps, what would you say on twitter? You’d be scared to say anything, although I do understand though, for me, if you self promote a few links here and there, or something other like that, it’s ok, but it’s the people that, that’s all they tweet about that gets annoying. Anyone agree?

    • Scott, I certainly have violated some of these “rules.” Some of these are part of my style — love it or hate it.

      I think it just goes to show that these are not hard and fast rules. Rather, it illustrates that each of us have preferences in what we want from those we follow — and we don’t all like or want the same things. It’s the old ‘You say “to-ma-to” I say “to-mah-to” routine.’

      I can literally tweet something that violates one of the points in this list and immediately see 3 followers drop off. But 30 minutes later I will have a net 5 new followers. Clearly I must have ticked off some people. But others saw it as a reason to become new followers. Go figure. :)

      – Anita

  21. Is it okay to be obsessed with the iPhone/iPad if you are tweeting for a social mobile app recommendation site? ;-)

    http://www.twitter.com/appolicious

  22. It’s interesting how #14 says you tweet too much and #15 says you don’t tweet enough. Just like everything in life you can’t make everyone happy, so to each their own.

  23. I realize you left a lot of room for other reasons people may stop following you, and what I am about to say kind of falls into some of the categories you did mention – specifically that of “posts nothing but links”. However I wanted to make it a point to let people aware of one of the BIGGEST reasons I unfollow people and one of the EASIEST ways of spotting them. I unfollow auto link posters, as you already suggested however I do so by looking at the little “via” at the end of every post. If you post via twitterfeed, via Retwittering, via retweet.it, or similar places that make it REALLY clear you aren’t reading the tweet stream, only posting to it I unfollow.

  24. The big one: They thing you’ll refollow them, but you don’t play that game. Funny how many random people I see follow and unfollow within 72 hours.

    Two others: You retweet too much, and you set up trains

  25. Curiously, I unfollowed that guy, Mashable, because I found his tweeting kinda boring.

  26. I just follow someone that spark my interest and unfollow someone that’s not

  27. Following your followers is a twitter tradition that “almost” guarantees a solid followership,( it also is a matter of respect to your followers.)However, almost is the key word here. People sometimes follow you in order to get you to follow them, and then they unfollow you later on, thinking you wouldnt notice….. :) With sites like who.unfollowed.me , you can easily find who unfollowed you

  28. I am the one who unfollows due to link droppers. They just tickle my bad spot and I HAVE to unfollow them. Twitter is like an advertising market now.

  29. It all depends on how they put links in their tweets, if their sharing links with good content that is relevant then cool, if their just posting links then bad, always comment on links your posting, if your worried about length then use a url shortener that’s what their for.

  30. Its true that your followers unfollow you when you use the Retweet button. Last week I retweeted something and in a single day I had to loose 15 of my followers. But what is the exact reason why people hate retweets?

  31. Well, I think I’m guilty of being too negative! That’s an awesome article. I think it will help me to find a balance between tweeting too much negative stuff. I usually tweet about politics and I think it hacks people off! ;)

  32. What was forgotten to mention was people who don’t follow back. I HATE that because I’ve had people who would pop up on my TL with stupid or pointless tweets and to click their account to find out that they were not even following back. I mean what Twitter use wants to have their TL filled with pointless tweets of users who are not following them???

    • He probably didn’t mention it because he doesn’t follow everyone back, nor should he. I don’t, and I’m sure many people are the same. If your TL is filled with pointless tweets, then that’s on you.

  33. The number one reason I will un-follow is if someone continues to use vulgar & offensive language. Too much slang, and urban language will turn me off too. In addition, I can appreciate an occasional photo of a dish/meal, however I’m not really interested in your full meal & snack schedule for a given day.

  34. Like you, I didn’t think that NOT tweeting enough may prompt others to unfollow. By the way, it appears there is a typo in #15: “…I didn’t know this could be a probably…”.

    Cheers!

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