How To Lose Followers In 120 Characters Or Less


So I have a Twitter account I use regularly to connect with other writers for both social and business reasons. Part of it has to do with platform building, part of it has to do with social interaction. We all know I never leave my desk, so Twitter is the closest thing I have to human interaction outside of Facebook. I have been on there a fair amount, and I follow a lot of folks, and have a number of people who follow me. I am receiving new follows daily, and giving as many if not more than I receive.

Most of what I post on Twitter is about writing or photos of my cats. I’m just not that interesting, but I try and make most of my posts funny or relatable somehow. That’s kind of what you’re supposed to be doing. To be talking to people and interacting with them. That’s what Twitter is for – it isn’t for endless spam of “buy my book!”

Now, beyond that, there is a special kind of spam I want to address in regards to Twitter. It’s huge and common, and it’s driving me absolutely batty: direct message spam. When I follow someone on Twitter it’s usually because they do something I like. They maybe said something I enjoyed, or I liked their blog or something like that. It’s a gesture of “hey, you’re kind of cool – I’d like to see more from you”.

Then it happens.

I receive an email or a notification on my phone saying “Hey – you’ve got a direct message from ‘x’!” Oh cool, I think, I’ve got someone to talk to! Then I open Twitter to discover it’s something like this image.

This makes me a very sad panda.

And from that I learn that the author is apparently desperate for sales and has crafted something they believe is witty in an attempt to entice me to purchase their book. I know that this is an automated message or a copy/paste because I received the exact same message on multiple separate accounts. I get dozens of these messages every day between the various Twitter accounts I manage, and every time I get one I have to clamp down on the instinct to instantly unfollow the person.

Why? Because it’s rude. If you have never spoken to me, commented to me, or otherwise interacted with me it’s presumptuous and forward to say something like this. Or something like “HEY BUY MY BOOK, JERKWAD!” because what it says to me – with these automated messages – is “OH GOD I AM SO DESPERATE I WILL ASK ANYONE”. They don’t know what kind of books I like or don’t like, they don’t know who I am, and they don’t know anything about me. All they know – and even then they don’t know this because it’s a computer program – is that I hit “follow” on Twitter.

I have received similar messages on Facebook and LinkedIn, but it’s not as frequent because most people don’t automate these types of messages to their friends. It is also more bothersome because I have to go out of my way to delete them. If they are flooding their Twitter stream with them I don’t have to see them. I don’t have to look. In fact, I can ignore it because I mostly look at a few people and some hashtags I follow rather than my home feed because my home feed is mostly crap book advertisements. A fact that depresses me, but it’s true nonetheless.

If you take anything away from this take away that THIS DOES NOT WORK. It is obtrusive, unpleasant, and rude. Even moreso because these folks do not even answer their direct messages when sent one. I’ve tried to reach out to folks who use this kind of marketing, and they don’t answer. Even if the message is “hey, we haven’t met – how are you?” or something equally personal and benign. Do not be this person.

Let me repeat that: DO NOT BE THAT PERSON. It will turn people off faster than you can blink.


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