Why I’m Not Following You on Twitter

Let me just say, right off the bat, that this is not a rant. Rather, it’s a simple, and hopefully, enlightening missive about why, even though you are following me on Twitter, I am not following you.

There are a whole host of reasons why I may not choose to follow you on Twitter, so perhaps it would be useful for me to lay bare my vetting process for you, the prospective followee.

First, I go to your Twitter page. I check out the contents of your last ten tweets, look at your background, visit your website if you have one, and then make my decision. My choice to follow or not depends on a highly scientific formula that I have developed. No single factor, unless overwhelmingly large, tips the balance in favor of a “No Follow”, but a combination of any two, and things do not look so good for you. Here, in order of importance, are the 7 categories that determine your following fate:

1. Children Tweets

You tweet about your toddler 27 times a day. I do not care about what little Billy has in his mouth or the contents of his diaper. Please email your parents about this. Grandparents are paid to care about such things. I do not.

Better: If you were instead to Tweet about the pair of pants that you made for Billy and link to the pattern and a picture of the little tyke wearing them, I just might give you a try.

2. Etsy Tweets

Bad: You tweet about your Etsy shop 103 times a day. While I am sure that your newest steampunk assemblage earrings are the world-beaters that you claim they are, sadly, I will never see them. You see, the great majority of people who tweet about their Etsy shops constantly, have nothing to show me. I don’t need any of your stuff.

Better: While I’m not in the market for a baby blanket or knit lingerie, I am always interested in how they were made. The value for me in your stuff is not the stuff at all, but you and how you relate to it. Twitter, at its heart, is about people, not items. We’d all do well to remember that. Show me something interesting and the probability that I will tell other people about it skyrockets.

3. Non-Descript Linky Tweets

Bad: “OMFG!!!!!! This is so awesome!” In this, the era of consumption, people are in need of guidance. It takes time to click over to a website and it’s very disappointing if your version of “awesome” isn’t the same as mine.

Better: “OMFG! @dudecraft has the most amazing electric unicycle! Awesome! ” You see, now I know what you’re about. You’re a total freak, like me, and so now I will gladly follow you for as long as you stay good and freaky.

4. Gifty Tweets

Bad: “I just sent you a bunny hug using TwitHug! You should send me a hug back!” Uh, no. I do not have time to send you a hug. I’m not even sure that you deserve a hug. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that you will never receive a hug from me, bunny or otherwise.

Better: There is no better, other than, just don’t send things like this. Please.

5. My Life is So Awesome Tweets

Bad: “Drinking a ChiChi in Lahaina. Maui sure is relaxing. Whoops, gotta go! Time for my massage.” Yeah, if I had a hammer and I saw you on the street, I don’t know that things would turn out so well for you. You see, while I am happy that you are taking care of yourself, I am sitting in my cubicle, which looks nothing like Maui and there’s little chance that I’ll be getting a massage anytime soon.

Better: “Going on vacation. Won’t be tweeting for nxt 2 weeks. Have fun while I’m gone!” See, now I can pretend that you’re going to Cleveland to visit your mother in law.

6. My to do list Tweets

Bad: “Rarin 2 go! Pick up Johnny @ daycare, soccer practice, buy wine, cook Thai, then fall into bed exhausted! Good day!” Now, I don’t mean to be nosy, but why did I need to know that? Those are tasks. I’m glad for you that you are busy. It’s nice to stay busy. I, however, am also busy and I think your to do list should be distributed on a “need to know” basis.

Better: “Finished octopus costume (insert picture link here), now picking up where I left off on crocheted navel gazer (insert picture link here), comments welcome.” Now you’ve engaged me. You’ve offered me things to look at and asked my opinion.

7. Emo Tweets

Bad: “Listening to The Cure. Rain.” Yep. You sure are and it sure is.

Better: “Just snapped myself out of my depression. Who wants a present?!” Yes, please!

I hope this has cleared up any possible misunderstandings that may have occurred concerning the follow/no follow question. Suffice to say, if you do not tweet about any of the items listed above, I will probably follow you. Unless, of course, you’re mean, racist, sexist, or just plain nuts (in the bad way).

Oops. Gotta go. It’s time for my massage!:-)


  1. Right there with ya. I used to follow everyone that followed me because I thought that it was rude to *not* follow him/her back. But after being bombarded with inane tweets of what people are eating for lunch or cell phone pics of girls that they they take because they're "bored" I've had a purging.

  2. That is too hilarious. You have made me look at myself and my tweets in a whole new light. Thanks!

  3. This might be a "just me" thing, but I unfollowed someone who is very popular because he tweeted correspondence tweets with one or two other people (at a time) and I felt left out of everything. He is always on everyone's FF and he does post some pretty funny tweets when he does broadcast, but mostly I felt like an eavesdropper. On top of it, he averages about 200 tweets a day.

  4. ChickieLou - Now that's an interesting one. That's happened to me too. I try not to do it and take most "conversation" stuff off into a DM. Problem is, if the person is not following you, you can't Direct Message them, so if you want to thank them for a ReTweet or something, you have to do it publicly. How do we feel about that? It doesn't annoy me, but I'm curious.

  5. Renee - Yes. Purging is good.

    Melissa - Thanks for the nice comment!

  6. This is very twitformative..thank you, it gives me insight of how I should twit properly the next time around :)

  7. Ha! I think it's quite brilliant to spell things out like this and I may do my own version on my Twitter landing page, making more explicit and understandable my choice of who I follow. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Again I say, Amen, Paul! Especially on that "I just sent you a bunny hug" thing. For pete's sake, I left Facebook partly because of all those inane virtual trading games! Don't pollute Twitter with them!

    There endeth the rant. :-)

  9. Can I add to your list?
    People who ONLY (or the majority of their tweets are of) Quoting famous people. Seriously? I didn't follow your ass to hear about everything the "cool" kids had to say before they DIED.
    Personally, I think my tweets are a mild mix of some of the things that bother you... BUT I'm not out to have a billion followers. The people I tweet for are mostly friends and family. Either on line or off... and my tweets reflect that.
    Good list!! LOVE the one about the bunny hugs!! lol

  10. Hm. I'm not on Twitter. Not sure this is a good endorsement... hehe... Maybe I'm not missing much? : )

  11. I'm not sure I get your "prospective follower" rant. I see following someone on Twitter as an intent to listen, not a request to be listened to. Should I follow you just so you can get a tee hee! look a mommyblogger! snort! as if! at my expense?

  12. Heh, made me go back through my last 10 or so Tweets just to see what I wrote. A lot of those were in response to fans, drivers and crews in NASCAR. I have a weird mix of people I follow. A lot of racing, art, computer, a few non-racing celebs. I figure I'm not going to follow everybody that follows me, why would I expect anybody else to follow me just because I follow them?

  13. Phoenyx - Right you are.

    Heather - I would never laugh at your expense or at mommy bloggers in general. That's not how I roll. Mean spirited I am not. I do require, however, that people be interesting in order for me to follow them, mommies or otherwise.

    Relished - On the contrary. I think you should join Twitter. In the right hands it's an awesome tool.

    Rachel - Funny. The quote thing doesn't bother me too much, maybe because I'm a quote geek.

    DG - I rue the day when I agreed to have a "lil green patch". I can relate.

    Thanks for the comments all!

  14. I agree on so much of this! And I think it's constant violation of these "tips" that make a lot of people look at Twitter and think it's pointless. I actually think Twitter is hugely powerful and useful!

    I think it all comes back to what your reasons for using Twitter are and what you are looking to get out of it. And then it goes to learning how to manage Twitter so it doesn't manage *you.*

    I fall somewhere in the middle with my tweets. A lot of them are resources, links, inspiration, etc. And a lot of them are a bit more personal. I like a mix, because when I'm following people, if they are just a constant list of links and no peek into their personality, I don't feel like I can connect to them at all on a personal level and can't even think to begin to develop a relationship with them (which, to me, is a huge part of twitter).

    One other pet peeve of mine (that kind of goes along with your #5) are the tweets that are just over the top messages of positivity and possibility. Don't get me wrong, I am *all* about a positive attitude and gratitude and all that. It's just that constant streams of tweets that are nothing but these kind of comments just ... drive me kinda batty.

    At the end of the day, though, I think it primarily comes down to thoughtful management of the medium. For example, if I have a big group of friends with whom I regularly converse, I don't necessarily feel comfortable telling them, "Look - I don't like it when you talk like this, so I'm not going to listen to you." Instead, it's more about how *I* interact with them and how *I* manage their interaction and conversation and then hope that my example rubs off on them. ;)

    And, yeah, don't even get me started about the strange phenomenon of FB and now - sadly - Twitter of hugs, pokes, patches and gifts. I've just ignored them from the get-go, and advise any friends getting started in these social networking to do the same. Just pointless.

    Great conversation! :)

  15. AJC - Totally agree. It's all about managing the medium. I find it hard to balance personal tweeting with also having value for my followers. Maybe the value is in the fact that I reveal something, huh? I'm going to try to do that a bit more. Thanks for making me think of it.

  16. I do not like bunny hugs. No. I don't. I do like twitter a lot however - and believe that with guidance like this we can all make it a better place. Free of pokes, polls, petitions and pretty ponies.

    I agree with most of your points, Sir Paul.
    I like to hear some personal stuff, but not too much and not the same things over and over again, it get's a bit dull. The fiftieth tweet about the baby not sleeping is possibly about 30 too many, ya know? But by all means send me an email about how the baby is not sleeping - I'm all ears on a real and personal level. I just don't think it's broadcast newsworthy.

    I follow as many people as I can, but I use Tweetdeck to sort them into categories so I can keep up with the people I am close to easily.

    I have a 'buddies' column and then a 'blogs and media' column and then a few other randoms and some searches too. I try and update them every couple of weeks to keep them working well. It makes it easier and ensures Twitter is full of varied and entertaining tweets for me.

    I personally think that tweets should be half link sharing and half personal (not too personal though!) insights. That keeps it informative and a bit intimate for me. And I like informative and intimate!

    Great topic. Gotta love Dudecraft!

    Merci. x

  17. I thoroughly enjoyed this post Paul. I confess I'm not a great user of Twitter. I loved it before it became flooded & now the whole thing just seems too much. There are a few people I follow who use it well & I note comments from several of them above (yourself included).

    I like a happy mix of links & personal & I agree that links should ALWAYS include a relevant pointer.

    As a consumer more that a producer on Twitter I would agree with Heather: by following someone I do not expect a return follow. It is an intention to listen.

    You're a thinker & you've got thinking readers. Hooray for Dudecraft.

  18. Pip - I like your half-and-half idea. A mix is very good. I also use TweetDeck to sort everything out. Gosh, I'd never see 98% of the tweets otherwise.

    Kirsty - Thanks so much for your perspective and the kind words!

  19. Nice post and so true. With all the weightloss and Buy My Random Crap! followers I get requests from I sometimes wonder if there are real people on Twitter or not. Then I get some fellow crafters to follow and I am renewed with hope again... until the next MLMBot comes along.

  20. Oh, so good! I promise to be a better Tweeter. And, may I ad another to your list 'Wanna be Pornographers'. The worst are those that embedd links to their XXX photos amid Tweets about politics or pop culture. Argh!

  21. I don't believe this is a missive at all.

  22. Hey, check out my etsy store! And while you are there make sure to check this link out! Did you get the TwitHump i sent you while I was sipping Mai Tai's in Tahiti last week? Now, im back and I need to hit up the post office and then the bank. Good thing the Cure is on the radio! BTW/ My kid just pooped.

  23. Greg - This is why you're destined for greatness.

  24. Totally agree with all your points, Paul!

    That being said - I'm wondering if you only use twitter to follow housewives, albeit the interesting ones ;)

    Just wondering if other craft dudes annoy you at all?

  25. I'm a follower on twitter, you and others have interesting things to link to. I do not. I rarely tweet, if at all its' in response to someone.

  26. While it's true that DudeCraft does <3 housewives, I follow many people. I also end up unfollowing many people. Despite my scientific process listed above, I will often give people a follow because they seem weird or funny or just plain crazy. Even if they do tweet about what hilarious thing little Billy just did, I'll often stick it out because the majority of their tweets contain some kind of value, be it links or whatever. It's only when the tweets become heavy in one or more of the areas above that I will push the red button.

  27. This is such a great post, I may direct others to it when they ask why I'm not on Twitter (or for that matter, Facebook).

  28. So elegantly and wittily summarized. I *will* be RTing this. ;-)


  29. I'm going to fashion a "DudeCraft Rules" badge from nails and duct tape. Both because you rule, and because your rules rule.

    I like Tweets that are a mix of personal events, thoughts and interesting links. I don't mind self-promoting Tweets once in a while, so I can see what other people are doing out in the world, but not if that's the only reason they joined. I like the personal interaction because people that only link other people's stuff or quotes strike me as boring themselves. I enjoy knowing what my followees are actually like!

  30. Jannypie - I think the key word in all that is "mix". Thanks for the comment. You rule too!

  31. This is so well said. This should be the a handbook for Twitter users! Love it.

  32. Well said, and I agree on just about everything. :)

  33. I'm a pushover. I'll probably follow you back - given you are a real person - regardless of bunnies, etsy shops, or to-do lists. However, I won't put you in the column I actually read in Tweetdeck.

    Now I'm off to count how many times I've Tweeted about my toddler today.

    If I had a backbone, I would totally agree with your list. Even #1.

  34. Anyone that has a conversation like below gets an automatic unfollow:

    person 1: hey @person2, I'm back at my desk. Call me when you get home

    Person2: @person1 do you want to go to Joes party? Could be fun.

    There's actually a tool for the above conversations. It's called EMAIL.

  35. Sal- Hilarious! They could at least DM eachother. Thanks for the comment!

  36. Thanks for getting me hooked on your amazing site! Now I dont need coke! (kiddin,lol)

    While I dont Tweet (ADD is a nasty thing,lol), I do use Facebook, and there is nothing worse than someone sending a request just so you can enjoy their barrage of "farming", "mafia", "my baby just took a poop", "I'm so emo, I hate everyone (and thats why im gonna sit on FB all day)", etc updates.

    Love your 5% misanthropy outlook :)

  37. Natasha - 5% Misanthropy. I like it!