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What Not To Do: 5 Ways To Lose Followers On Twitter

David Beharall
After 11 years in professional football David retired in 2006 to set up CandidSky. He currently holds the position of Managing Director.

July 8, 2013

5 minute read

There are a lot of articles out there that tell you how to gain followers on Twitter – and rightly so. Twitter users are three times more likely to follow brands than Facebook users, and 42% of users like to learn about and interact with brands on the site. This means that Twitter is a valuable source of potential customers and shouldn’t be underestimated.

What’s a lot easier than gaining followers, somewhat unfortunately, is losing them. There’s no strict science to working out why you’re being unfollowed – it could be for the most obscure or irrelevant reason – but certain Twitter offences are likely to increase the chances of it happening. Here’s our guide on what you might be doing wrong.

1. Dont beg for followers

Starting a Twitter account can, in many ways, be a little daunting. Perhaps the most depressing aspect of a fresh account is that resolute, seemingly immovable “Followers: 0”. To remedy this, many people do one of two things: following as many people as possible in hope of a follow back, or literally asking for followers. This is never going to work. Twitter is about cultivating genuine, personal relationships, so people want a compelling reason to follow your account – asking them to do so is never going to cut it.

The solution: Invest some time in writing interesting, engaging tweets. These can be professional or personal, but don’t err too far from your intended subject matter (see below). It might be a little arduous at first, but consistently posting relevant, interesting material (your own insights, links to your own and other blogs, starting conversations) will eventually yield an active and engaged following who are actually interested in what you have to say.

2. Don’t spam them

Getting your follower count up isn’t the only problem – keeping them can be an issue, too. One common way users lose followers is through unfiltered self promotion. If someone’s following you, it’s likely that they’re already interested in what you’ve got to say. Don’t ruin this by sending them Direct Messages (DMs) or tweets promoting your services. It’s self-aggrandising and potentially harmful – people don’t want to be sold to when they haven’t even enquired about your services.

The solution: Twitter is about engagement, interaction and entertainment. Although people may be interested in a business, they’re probably using Twitter (at least in part) for recreation. Reflect this in your interactions with others – be genuine, be helpful, but don’t be pushy.

3. Don’t be a serial retweeter

Retweeting is a great tool – you can share tweets and links at the click of a button without going through the hassle of posting it yourself. Too much retweeting, however, can be seriously annoying. If people follow you, it’s because they’re interested in what YOU have to say. Don’t bombard them with things they may have seen elsewhere or may not even be interested in.

The solution: Be original! While retweeting interesting news stories or articles is great, make sure you also have something to say for yourself. Try to limit how many things you retweet a day – two or three is fine, but any more and it may start to get tedious.

4. Don’t feed the trolls

This tip will hopefully never be useful to you – because angry keyboard warriors are difficult to deal with. No matter how innocuous or boring your tweet may be, someone, somewhere online will find a problem with it. A recent trend has been to have public arguments on Twitter in full view of the world – this is a bad idea. A public spat, no matter who started it, is never going to make you look professional, and is likely to lose you a few followers.

The solution: You probably shouldn’t be saying anything too controversial, but if you do find an opponent to a blog post or tweet, keep calm. Never say online what you wouldn’t say to someone at a bus stop. Would you swear at someone at the bus stop? No. Would you call them names? Probably not. Conduct yourself online with the same decorum and civility you would in real life. If someone targets you, ignore and block them no matter how worked up or annoyed you might be.

5. Don’t go too far off topic

Business accounts always benefit from that personal touch; adding a voice to a faceless brand can make all the difference when it comes to social media success. However, there’s a line between “casually chatting with your followers” and “this isn’t what I signed up for!”. If your bio states you’re a company tweeting about business and finance and then all your tweets are about football, people are probably going to lose interest. You have a niche – don’t be afraid to embrace it.

The solution: Consider setting up a personal account for all those tweets that don’t quite fit with your brand. You can always link it to your business account so your followers can “get to know you”, but make sure you’re not boring them with irrelevant stories, bad jokes or boring anecdotes.

What are your best tips for gaining followers (and avoiding losing them) on Twitter? Let us know.

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