Why I Ain’t No #FollowBack Girl

I’ve been using social media in my personal life and career since 2010 and there’s a practice I’ve seen over and over again that irks me – following then swiftly unfollowing to increase follower count. If you have Twitter or Instagram, you probably know what I’m talking about. You get a notification that you have a new follower and you decide to “pay it forward” by following back only to notice that a day or two later, your follow count has actually decreased. What’s up with that?

I see it all the time on my personal accounts as well as the ones I manage professionally. It’s unavoidable. After all, you can’t prevent people from following you (or requesting to follow if your account is private) but man does the immediate unfollow annoy me. I got so fed up with it recently that I downloaded an app called FollowCop to see who these sneaky followers/unfollowers were. I connected several accounts and started unfollowing these unfollowers with vengeance, my finger tapping away and my eyes glued to the screen. It was strangely cathartic.

The funny thing is though, I didn’t unfollow everyone who had dropped me like recalled romaine into a garbage bin. There were actually some accounts that I genuinely enjoyed their content and decided to keep following. This experience has made me confront how I react to new followers and the type of content I follow. In effect, it’s made me become more mindful. I shouldn’t be following back because it’s the nice thing to do and it’s “only fair,” I should be following back (or following anything in general) because it’s something that adds value to my life whether it’s by making me laugh, think, or feel.

Another thing I’ve come to realize is not to take unfollowing personally, in particular, from people I know IRL. I was surprised to see that people that I had gone to school with and certain relatives no longer follow me. I wondered – do they not like me? Did I post something offensive? Was I annoying? But instead of asking myself those questions, I should be asking, why does it matter and why do I care? I no longer keep in contact with those ex-classmates and distant relatives so there isn’t really any point in seeing their photos in my feed. They’re essentially strangers and I shouldn’t be upset because they don’t care to see what’s going on in my life.

The only thing I can do is be my authentic self and if that attracts followers, cool! But if it makes others unfollow, go right on ahead. There will be no hard feelings. My takeaway from this experience is to approach social media (and really anything else I consume like food, music, movies, books) with more mindfulness and to reject being a #followback girl in order to win some followers. If I follow you, it’ll be because I like your content – nothing more, nothing less.

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8 Ways to Lose Twitter Followers

worst types of tweeters
There are tons of articles on how to gain Twitter followers but have you ever considered what can make people unfollow you? Or worse, never following you to begin with? I’ve been on Twitter since 2010 when I created my personal account, and have managed several accounts for employers. Let’s just say that over the last five years, I’ve seen the good, bad and downright annoying habits of Twitter users. Here are some of the types of people I’ve come across on Twitter that I feel give the social platform a bum rap.

  1. The Desperate Followbacker: Usually this well-meaning, but transparently desperate person has #teamfollowback or #followforfollow on their bio profile. Instead of creating meaningful exchanges with others, they beg and plead for followers.
  2. The Constant Retweeter: Retweets are a valuable tool for a marketer but if that’s all you do, then what’s the value of following you? Instead, I’ll go follow the person who’s actually putting in the work of writing the tweet in the first place.
  3. The Ghost: When I see a business account that never tweets, I can’t help but think that they’ve wasted an opportunity to expand their brand simply by participating. What’s the point of going through the trouble of creating a profile if you’re going to end up leaving the party as soon as you get there?
  4. The Plugger: We get it, you’re excited about your new product, project, cat, whatever. And you should be! But you don’t have to tweet about it 24/7. Change it up a little. Don’t tweet the same message over and over again. Instead, use different but related hashtags and search out people who are tweeting about the topic and respond to them. You’ll be surprised about the conversations you can start – and the followers you can gain.
  5. The Troll: The dreaded trolls…you’ve probably heard of them or have encountered one. It should be obvious that being a troll won’t gain you followers (or the kind of followers you want) but if you happen to run across this agitator, don’t give them a second of your time. The best thing to do is ignore them and block if necessary. However, don’t mistake criticism for trolling. If the person has a legitimate concern, even if it’s written harshly, you should respond back like the professional that you are.
  6. The Acronymer: Squeezing your message into 140 characters is hard but that doesn’t give you an excuse to throw the dictionary out the window. One or two acronyms can be helpful in making your tweet more concise but any more than three and it’ll start to look like your cat walked across your keyboard while you went to get a glass of water. You shouldn’t make it feel like work to read and understand your tweets.
  7. The Link Dropper: Similar to the Plugger, however, the Link Dropper takes it a step further – they literally tweet a link with no context whatsoever. Maybe they’re being lazy or trying to be mysterious (kind of like Pandora’s box but with a link?), but for me, I roll my eyes and keep scrolling until I find something interesting to read.
  8. The Rapid-Fire Tweeter: There’s no value in sending 5+ tweets in less than a minute, unless you’re reporting a live event. Sending out too many tweets at once can run you the risk of saturating your followers’ feeds to the point where they get annoyed and unfollow you. Or, prospective followers get turned off because they know their feed will get backed up by your gushing stream of tweets.

At the end of the day, the best way to gain followers is to talk about something you’re passionate about, be yourself and get a little creative. Having good grammar never hurt either! Are there any Twitter habits or types of users you’ve seen that get under your skin? Would love to hear from you!

Note: This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse http://bit.ly/1UhmuG4