Sam Brown

7 ways to stop alienating your Twitter followers

Here are a couple of tips you need to employ right now to stop your Twitter followers from becoming disinterested in you.

1. Keep your tweets on topic

Twitter’s primary purpose is to keep people connected through 140 character answers to a simple question; What are you doing?

2. No more WANT updates followed by tinyurl links

Please adhere to Simon Collison’s advice:

WANT: People to stop writing “WANT” and making me follow tinyurls to CRAP. And “WIN” and “FAIL” and LOLROFLIMAOASSWIPE shitty LOLcrap. RAGE” – @collylogic

3. Keep self promotion on the down low

If you have a site that you update regularly and you want to let people know about it on Twitter create a separate account specifically for that site. People are following you because they want to know what you are doing, not that you think they should read your each and every blog post. I’m sure they’re already subscribed to your RSS Feed anyway!

4. Twitter is not the new MSN Messenger

Plain and simple, a couple of @ replies here and there are fine, but if it starts exploding into a full blown conversation best keep that for your IM client. Not everyone following you needs to know the exact details of you and your mates Friday night plans!

5. Perhaps Twitter should employ a Drunk Filter also

Friday night might have been a blast but come Saturday afternoon when you finally roll out of bed you may very well regret something that you posted to Twitter in your drunken stupor. Be very careful, the world is reading.

6. Use hash tags to tag appropriate updates

Written something about a particular topic that you think others will find useful, even those not following you? Tagging your tweets allows for others to easily search for similar topics using sites like For example:

“booking my hotel for UX London, The Cumberland Hotel discount makes it very worthwhile staying there. #uxlondon”

7. Keep an eye on your signal to noise ratio

Posting updates about every single thing you do during the day may very well be a great way to keep track of your life, alas people don’t need to know that you are heading to the bathroom for your daily business or that you are picking your nose, alright?

Keep your updates relevant and interesting and your Twitter followers wont grow to hate you.

Post a link to this on Twitter ↩


Buzzlair 1 February 2009, 07:29 #1

that you are picking your nose, alright? – this one make me lol

Tim Van Damme 1 February 2009, 07:46 #2

1. Guilty
2. Guilty (!)
3. Semi-guilty
4. I’m doing my best replying to as much people as possible in one single tweet
5. Drunk-tweets are the best :) I’m probable guilty of 1 or 2…
6. Should do that more often
7. Think I’m safe with this one

Twitter has changed a lot since it’s early days. It’s moved on from “What are you doing?” to a more wider topic.

Jorge Quinteros 1 February 2009, 08:25 #3

Very well said for avid and newbies to the service. The 7th reason exemplifies the number one reason why I tend to un-follow a few users.

I completely agree with Tim with the direction Twitter has taken now since its inception. It’s more a quick way to share information on anything and not necessarily just limited to the person posting it.

Sam Brown 2 February 2009, 01:38 #4

@Tim & @Jorge:

I don’t disagree, I think Twitter has evolved a lot since its inception. However, if the masses are going to use it for more than just “What are you doing?” then Twitter needs to build in better functionality to filter out the bumf that we don’t want to see.

For example making more of the common Twitter-specific acronyms, such as rt (re-tweeting) and np (now playing) filterable.

Essentially, Twitter needs to keep up with its users pace which I would think is a fair challenge.

Rockers Delight 2 February 2009, 04:43 #5

Hah, good post. I’m guilty of self-promotion (updating my Followers when I’ve made a new blog post). Oh, and I’ve also fired off the occasional drunken tweet, but I’m not easily embarrassed so that doesn’t bother me :)

Mark 2 February 2009, 08:32 #6

Number 7 can definetly get annoying. I’ve unfollowed people for that very reason!

Commenting has closed for this article. Feel free to me.

Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.