What makes you not follow someone on Twitter?

Do you use too many hashtags or tweet in all caps? Here are nine reasons your company has a hard time attracting followers.

I’ve been spending more time on social networking lately, mainly Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook, it’s fairly easy for me to learn about the people I want to friend and those who want to friend me. But Twitter goes faster, has less space and can be more abstruse.

Since I am meeting more people on Twitter, I’m getting more follows. I want to follow you back. Really, I do. Many of you post tweets that are entertaining, inspirational, and often so funny I have to avoid drinking coffee while I read them. But in the couple of years I’ve been on the site, running three different accounts, I’ve learned how to parse out the good from the life’s-too-short.

Here’s why I won’t follow you:

1. I know nothing about you. Twitter gives you 160 characters for a bio. If you leave this blank, I’m less likely to follow you. Tell me something about yourself (unless you have something to hide).

2. Your avatar is Twitter’s default “egg.” Adding an image tells me that you care enough about your social presence to put a face on it.

3. You follow a lot of people but no one is following you. This tells me that you’re selling something not a lot of people want—a link to a pornographic website or spam. I’m not going there.

4. You tweet in all capital letters. This is obnoxious and difficult to read.

5. You beg me to follow you back. Your desperation scares me.

6. You’re only on this medium to sell something. Yes, we all have something to sell, even if your only purpose on Twitter is to have fun. You’re selling your personality. But if you are hawking a product or service, the hard sell approach will make me delete you. The soft sell (some media experts recommend never even mentioning where you can buy your new book, for instance) works so much better. Let me get to know you before you offer to change my life, make me rich, or show me how to drop 10 pounds of stubborn belly fat.

7. Your auto-responder comes off as spam. Have you ever gotten one of these: “Thanks for following me! Come buy my product at XYZ.com right now! You’ll lose 30 pounds in a week!” While it’s nice to get a direct message after you follow someone, as it can be more personal than simply a blank follow, keep it short and simple. If you are meeting someone for the first time face to face, would you immediately leap into your sales pitch, or would you exchange a few pleasantries first?

8. Your tweets are awash with hashtags. I appreciate that you want to get indexed everywhere, but this makes your message sound like William Shatner is reciting it.

9. You tweet too damn much. OK, a few at a time are fine. But I get frustrated when I have to scroll past your dozens of tweets about where I can get a free iPad before I can find my friend’s daily haiku. Unfollow.

Are you on Twitter? What makes you hit “unfollow” faster than Rihanna changes her hair color?

Laurie Boris is a writer, editor, proofreader and novelist. She blogs at LaurieBoris.com/blog, where this article originally ran.

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