Three Twitter Pet Hates

Follow Friday Gone Wrong - Comic

Follow Friday Gone Wrong – taken from The Oatmeal

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll most likely already know how much these things annoy me. But then again, sometimes it’s better to explain these things in full. So, without further ado, here’s three Twitter behaviours that really get my goat.

  1. ‘Inspirational’ Quotes
    These are fine once in a blue moon, and well-chosen quotes can demonstrate to your followers the kind of person/organisation you are, what you believe in and how you think about the world around you. But where quotes become meaningless is when they’re used in place of original content. Your followers are following you, so give them what they want. Focus on what you’re doing, who you’re with and what you think, and introduce them to content (created by you or others) that you think they would find interesting. If a quote helps you to do that then go ahead and tweet it, but if you’re posting lots of unrelated quotes in a short space of time then don’t bother.
  2. Contextless Follow Fridays
    Follow Friday (#ff for short) is an well-established convention, and a welcome excuse to draw attention to the people that you admire. But follow recommendations are only meaningful if placed in context; simply tweeting “#ff @[friend] @[colleague] @[client] @[new lead you’re trying to butter up] etc.” tells us nothing about why you’re recommending them. Recently I received this tweet on my dashboard:

    #FF @UnHijodeMami@adtunes@oyafuso@roberalgelier@LVVKIN @VeroElectronic@RightSaidJames@DemetriusBaines @ELGRANADIWA@zapt1
    — GorgeousPR(@GorgeousPR) July 20, 2012

    As it happens, this account doesn’t even follow me, but that’s an issue for another blog post. Presumably I had tweeted something relevant and PR-related that week, hence making me worthy of inclusion, but how on earth are @GorgeousPR’s followers meant to know this? I might have cat-sitted for their receptionist, for all the difference it makes.

    Instead, how about recommending just the one person, with a lengthy explanation of why they’re worth a follow? You can always send out more than one #ff tweet, or simply wait until next week to feature someone else. Or, if that’s not your style, simply give a brief explanation of who these people are and why you’re recommending them. Here’s a great example of a group #ff (found via Twitter search):

    An early Olympics tennis #FF: @OlympicsTennis, @stu_fraser, @neilharmantimes, @jon_wertheim. Also @christophclarey for tennis + more.
    — Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 26, 2012

    By stating that these people tweet about Olympic Tennis, Ben’s followers will instantly know what they will be getting. I know next to nothing about tennis, but I almost want to follow these people now!

    For more on this topic, see this post or, for the visually inclined, this comic.

  3. Following too many people
    I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I regularly prune (i.e. block) followers that follow (and are followed by) thousands of people. I’m sure that they put some thought into who they follow, or have some sort of criteria for making their choice, but to be honest I don’t really think that I have much to offer them if I’m one of 12,000 other people. Furthermore, the chances of them seeing one of my tweets and having enough time to read it before it gets replaced by 100 new ones in 5 seconds time is next to nothing, so there’s really no point in them following me in the first place.

If the above pet hates have anything in common, it’s that they are all the product of a lack of care and attention: tweeting endless quotes, making contextless lists and following too many people are both easy to do and effectively meaningless. Twitter is quite simply the best and most effective way to engage with others online, but by turning everything into a numbers game you’re doing yourself and your personal brand no favours.

What about you? Are there any Twitter behaviours that you consider to be annoying, anti-social or even abusive? Let me know in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Three Twitter Pet Hates

  1. My top twitter hate is all those tweets generated from other services (Foursquare, I’m looking at you!) – which don’t add to the conversation and upset the Signal-to-Noise ratio. To be fair, Foursquare seems pretty cool, but I don’t want it in my twitter feed.

    • Sorry for the late reply on this – I agree completely, although personally I think it’s okay when people post to Twitter from external services deliberately (e.g. to say where they are AND what they’re doing there/who they’re with!)

Leave a Reply