Over the years, I've spent a lot of time online. I never found it too difficult to find kinship with people I didn't know, and the explosive popularity of social media only made this even easier to do.
One of my favourite social networks is Twitter, as I find it to be an inspiring place. You learn quickly how to make your message concise but impactful. It is the birth place of innovative and uplifting social justice movements and a place of laughter. Still, like much of the internet, there's a seedy underbelly.
I curate my following carefully, because, in a way, they represent me. There are many good reads on how to build your twitter following, and they don't include following back for the sake of it. Here are 4 reasons why I didn't follow you back on Twitter.
You Didn't Reach Out
Chances are if you didn't tweet me (though, direct messaging is worse) I consider you a passive follower. Meaning, since you couldn't be bothered to reach out, it becomes obvious that you're just looking for an immediate follow back. If I don't follow you within a certain time frame, you unfollow me.
There isn't necessarily anything wrong with this strategy, but that's not how I work. For all the talk about being authentic on social, few people are willing to say hi and connect. I think it's a good practice to tweet the person you followed and mention what you like about their work. This way, the person you're following knows you've done your homework and are actually interested in what they have to say.
You Promote Hate Speech
This one is a no-brainer. I can't in good consciousness follow someone who promotes any kind of hate speech (homophobic, transphobic, sexist, racist, ableist, etc). Moreover, these profiles tend to be a red flag for potential harassment.
You don't have to go too far to learn about the harassment problem on Twitter. Whether you think they're trolls or not, those who speak out on social justice issues are prey to hate tweets, and things can even escalate to death threats. My safety is of the utmost importance, and so if you're principled by hate, I will definitely not be following you.
Your Timeline is Boring and Robotic
I think it's easy for writers and marketers alike to become trapped in a cycle of self-promotion and links to articles. Again, not a bad strategy but over time it can get tiresome reading the same type of tweet over and over again.
My ideal timeline to follow is one that talks about the industry that they're in, but includes some humour, mentions of interests and hobbies, and acknowledges current events, even if they're unsavoury. It was a major disappointment to see so many people not even address a major event like the Charleston shootings. When people do this, it makes me question your authenticity and makes me suspect that there isn't a real person behind your account, just a series of automated tweets.
You Want me To Promote You Right Away
I get it. In the age of solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and an increasingly more business savvy populous, everyone has something to sell. I'm not against this, and I am even flattered to be considered an influencer whose association with a company or product could be beneficial.
However, I find it really irritating when after five seconds of being followed, I'm messaged or tweeted to promote a business. Get to know me a little bit before asking me to hawk your product. I've had no time to vet your company, and it's clear you're only following me to get free promotion. I'm a business woman myself, but I definitely don't ask everyone I follow to promote me. That's a poor strategy that won't win you any friends, let alone followers.
Ultimately, even in the online world, you have to view connecting with people a lot like interacting in person. No one wants to be around people who spread hate, talk about themselves constantly, or just aren't interesting to talk to, so don't be that person on Twitter.
How do you interact with your following? Do you have any other reasons not to follow people on Twitter? Share them in the comments!