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This article was published on June 4, 2009

How to Lose Followers & Alienate Friends, on Twitter

How to Lose Followers & Alienate Friends, on Twitter
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

There are a lot of ‘how to’ guides on how to gain followers and become more popular on Twitter. Being popular is very last century of course. In the future privacy, disconnecting and silence will become hip again.

At least, that is what some people pray for.

For those of you who get nervous of a crowd of hungry attention seekers confronting you with every update you post, or a lack of updates, here is a guide on How to Lose Followers & Alienate Friends, on Twitter:

1: no avatar
Twitter standard avatarOscar Wilde said: “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances”. If you are still using the standard Twitter Avatar (pictured here) than you are REALLY limiting your chances of getting followers. Want to lose a few followers? Revert to standard avatar and watch them go…

2: no biography
I’m sure you think it looks all mystical and secretive to not say too much about yourself. Bravo. Unfortunately it just means I have no idea what you do and what you are about. Following you? If I need mystery in my live I will watch the X Files. Thank you.

3: ugly profile
Nothing says ‘I don’t take this seriously’ as a standard twitter account. Are you planning on seriously using Twitter? Then go and choose a different background! Really, anything except the standard background is better than the standard background!

4: not enough updates
If you don’t send out regular updates why should I keep following you? Try to at least post once every other day. It isn’t that hard and will help you get into the habit of thinking about it.

5: too many updates
Watching a ball game? At a conference? Want to share what you see? Cool. But don’t send out a tweet every 30 seconds that only interests the 10 other followers who are also at the event you are visiting. Have some  consideration with people not experience the same event. To them you are just spamming. UNFOLLOW!

6: too detailed updates
Yes, I’m interested in your life. Just not every single detail. Drinking coffee? Watching TV? taking a sh*t? Great for you but please fight the urge to share it all with your 10,000 followers. Don’t bore me!

7: not interesting enough updates
Before you post ANYTHING think about this: Will this tweet Inspire, amuse or inform my followers? Is it funny, different and valuable? If the answer is yes, go ahead and publish. Otherwise, don’t bother. You have an audience of eager listeners. What would you do if you were invited to a conference and had to speak before an audience of 500 people? How many followers do you have? See what I’m getting at? Be interesting!

8: more following than followers
If you follow *many* more people than you are being followed by you look desperate. Sure, you think you are just REALLY interested. Unfortunately it doesn’t come over like that. There are lots of conflicting opinions on how many people you can follow. Is the conversation still interesting if you follow 50,000 people? I doubt it but won’t stop you (Twitter will: you can only follow 2000 people, unless they all follow you back) but I wouldn’t recommend it.

9: auto-welcome direct messages
More and more people treat the automatic Direct Message as a perfect excuse to immediately unfollow you. Want to personally welcome everybody who follows you? Then do it personally. Never automate a personal message. It is a contradictio in terminus and will only anger your potential new friends.

10: Start unfollowing yourself
This must be the best way to lose followers! It is one thing to break up with someone but unfollowing is considered the ultimate insult to some people. I recently unfollowed 350 people to get back to 150 people just so I could keep up Twitter again. The result was several really angry letters, an advertiser who pulled her ads and hundreds of Followers who noticed what I was doing and unfollowed me before I could unfollow them. Amazing! Announce in advance that you are going to unfollow and people will unfollow you just to make sure THEY are the ones breaking up.

11: NSFW Tweets
On the web anything goes, right? Wrong. A lot of your followers won’t appreciate you tweeting about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Good chance that your other followers will love you for it of course. You can’t please em all! Just be aware of it.

Remember: Anything you say and do on Twitter can, and will, be held against you in the court of public opinions.

How have you lost followers? Said anything you regretted later?

Let us know so we can learn from you…


12: only mention your own content
@Roy gives us number 12. So true..

13: spam your followers with Spymaster invites
@lisa617 has number 13:

14: let us know!