To Follow or Not to Follow? That is the Question

August 20, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Twitter bird kicking another out of a treeA well respected colleague of mine recently posed a question on her company’s Facebook page:  What makes you unfollow someone on Twitter?  She received a good response, with a diverse list of reasons.  Among them:

–those who provide little value to me

–I can’t build a relationship with someone who can’t see my posts

–if they are not what they seemed

–if they are vulgar and offensive

–if they are inactive for more than 15 days

–if they only autopost and never engage

–if they don’t follow me back

My colleague’s question got me thinking, and I realized that I couldn’t reply with just one choice.  Most if not all have merit to justify an unfollow.  Some, like people who are vulgar and offensive, are no brainers. But other reasons may benefit from a little more latitude, depending on the perspective of the individual Twitter user.

While Twitter is pretty generous in its follower allowance, tying up our numbers with others who never engage or are inactive for long periods of time doesn’t do us a lot of good.  There is a school of thought that teaches us to focus on numbers of followers – the more the better.  That thinking is still popular, but its prevalence is steadily waning.  Social media needs to be social!  Most Twitter folks who may be scouting out profiles in our niche don’t care about seeing thousands of followers.  Instead, they are much more impressed by the engagement and overall quality of activity they see there.  What is the conclusion to be drawn when a profile boasts high numbers of followers, but shows no real engagement?

Quality of interaction is another make or break factor when considering whether to unfollow Twitter accounts.  Actually, it’s well worth our time to take a look at a profile’s stream before we even consider following it – regardless of whether or not the account already follows us.  What do we see?  Nothing but endless automated posts?  Is the stream dominated by spam?  Does the account tweet in a one-sided fashion, issuing information in an edict-like manner without ever encouraging or becoming involved with engagement?  Such factors should weigh heavily in our decisions to follow or unfollow other Twitter accounts.

Some respondents to my colleague’s question said they would unfollow an account that won’t follow them.  A very good point was made in that regard:  how can we engage with someone who can’t see our Twitter streams?  I agree with this important argument.  As a general rule of thumb, it is an acceptable reason to unfollow.  That said, I give this factor a little more latitude.  Some very knowledgeable peers in our field offer so much value in their Twitter profiles that I want to follow them.  I do so without the expectation that they will follow me back; sometimes I am pleasantly surprised to see that they do.  But from a didactic point of view, if they don’t it is not a deal breaker for me.

What are some reasons YOU unfollow Twitter accounts?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Twitter owl asking about unfollowing

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