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5 Reasons People Unfollow You on Twitter

Curb these top five annoying Twitter habits. Your followers will thank you.

Why should you care whether @MindaZetlin follows you on Twitter or not? You shouldn't. But if these five annoying habits are turning me off, there's a good chance I'm not the only one. Here, in descending order of annoyance, are the top five ways to lose me as a Twitter follower:

1. Every tweet is about your product or service.

"Exciting news! Version 5.3 just released!" "Check out our brand-new feature!" If every single tweet is about something your company is doing, I'm not going to follow you. I get flooded with enough marketing in the rest of my life.

I know there are consultants out there earnestly telling their clients to "stay on message" at all times. For a 30-second television interview, that might make sense. In social media, it's a terrible idea. Retweet someone else once in a while. Tell me about what you're reading. Unless your company is Apple, don't just tweet about yourself.

2. Your tweets aren't in English.

For some reason, there is a significant number of Twitter users whose profiles are in English, but their tweets aren't. If I can't understand your tweets, there's no reason to have them in my stream. Speaking of profiles, it should go without saying that I won't follow you if you have no profile, no image other than the Twitter egg, or no tweets of your own.

3. Your tweets are in English, but I still can't understand them.

Consider this tweet from earlier today: "RT @ScLoHo: RT @awelfle: @AmyL_Bishop @douglaskarr and what about @scloho? #solomo #yolo #BIN2012 //Yeah Doug? What cha think of @ScLoHo ?"

I'm sure that means something to someone, but not to me. I don't mean to pick on @ScLoHo--I looked up his timeline, and the rest of his tweets are considerably less cryptic and more appealing. But if all or most of your tweets are full of abbreviations and inside messages, only insiders are likely to follow you. Of course, that may be what you want.

4. All your tweets are conversations.

If you're a savvy Twitter user, you probably know that a tweet beginning with the @ symbol appears only in the stream of that user, plus any other users who follow you both. It's a good way to have a semiprivate conversation without cluttering up the streams of those who don't care.

But those tweets also show up when someone looks at your timeline. So imagine me, usually on a Sunday morning, working my way through a list of potential people to follow (I generally at least consider following anyone who follows me). Depending which device and application I'm using, I can quickly call up about five to 10 of someone's most recent tweets to learn if I'm interested in what that person has to say. (I can get more by actually opening a new page, but repeated over and over, that takes too long.) If all of them are things like, "@Someone, great seeing you last night!" "@OtherSomeone, That's a great idea--let me know how it goes!" and so on, I can't tell what you really tweet about. I'm likely to move on.

5. Your tweets are all lists of @names.

I understand the idea behind #FF (Follow Friday): It's a tip of the hat, a way to say thank you to someone who's done you a favor or acknowledge someone you like or admire. And, yes, it may raise that person's Klout score if he or she cares. But almost no one actually follows a Twitter account on the basis of a #FF, so it's something of an empty gesture. And the long list of people you want to shout out is cluttering up my Twitter stream. I want it to be full of fun and useful information instead. This may piss off anyone who's ever put me in a #FF list, but I tend to unfollow accounts that frequently tweet long lists of names, especially if that's all they tweet.

If you want to make me happy, retweet something I tweeted. If I haven't tweeted anything worth repeating, then why are you telling others to follow me?

That's my list of top annoying Twitter habits. What's yours?

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Last updated: Aug 10, 2012

MINDA ZETLIN | Columnist | Co-author, 'The Geek Gap'

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and former president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Like this post? Sign up here for a once-a-week email and you'll never miss her columns.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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