Unfollowing Active Twitter Followers Is Bad Marketing

Unfollowing Active Twitter Followers? Usually Bad Marketing!

Unfollowing Active Twitter Followers Is Bad Marketing

You follow me, I follow you back. Or vice versa. After a while you unfollow me.

Not because I spammed you or annoyed you. For other reasons.

I will unfollow you. No matter who you are.

Irrespective whether my reaction is right or wrong, what did you get? I was your potential customer. But you turned your back on me, so I did the same. How did your action help your Twitter marketing?

While not everyone will act like me, some people will do it. Ask yourself, what do you get by losing such prospects?

Unfollowing the people who don’t follow you back? It’s OK from a marketing perspective.

Unfollowing spammers, people who pissed you off, trouble makers or alike? Fine.

But unfollowing the other active tweeps … hmm … Nope, it’s not good for your marketing. Let’s analyze your reasons for unfollowing active followers and find better solutions …

Reason #1: Not Interested in My Tweets

Then why did you actually follow me? Why did you follow hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people? It wasn’t because you planned to read hundreds or thousands of tweets or articles daily, was it?

Aren’t you sick of hypocritical Twitter tips?

Your actual reason was that you hoped they would follow you back, maybe they’d read your tweets from time to time, click your links, and become your readers or customers.

So don’t talk about your interest in their tweets. Don’t fool yourself. Maybe you had certain interest in what some tens or maybe one hundred of tweeps tweet. Following the rest of people you follow wasn’t related to your interest in reading their tweets.

That’s marketing indeed. However, before unfollowing me for no real reason, consider the very next figure of speech that includes yet another marketing truth…

You sell shoes. I’m a math teacher. Isn’t it stupid to turn your back on me just because you’re not interested in math? You can still sell me your shoes, but you’ll always have to remember that you’re not the only one who sells shoes.

Reason #2: Too Many Tweets in Your Twitter Home Tab

That’s another lame excuse for unfollowing someone. Why are you reading the tweets from the Home tab?

Unless you follow only several people, your Home tab will always display tons of various tweets from various topics. Kind of mess. However the solution isn’t to unfollow almost everyone, but to segment the accounts you’re interested in.

That’s why Twitter Lists feature was created. Create lists for the topics you’re interested in, and add to these lists the relevant tweeps.

News, Customers, Subscribers, Friends, Gardening, and so on.

When you want to check let’s say the news, you go to the list News instead of going to the Home page and seeing the latest gardening tips you’re usually interested in but not at that very moment.

Isn’t it easier than unfollowing everyone and conveying a negative feeling such as “Not interested in you and your stuff. I only want you to buy my stuff”?

Reason #3: Getting Too Many Direct Messages

In the past, Twitter Messages tab was flooded with automatic Direct Messages most tweeps regarded as spam.

To solve this issue, some people stopped checking their DMs, other people unfollowed almost everyone (for example, in September 2011 Chris Brogan and Michael Hyatt unfollowed over 100k people each).

In the meantime, Twitter changed their Automation Rules:

You may not send unsolicited Direct Messages in a bulk or automated manner, and should be thoughtful about the frequency with which you contact users via Direct Message.

Twitter not only changed the rules but also warned the app owners to comply with them. Consequences? For example, Crowdfire – one of the main apps that flooded the inboxes with DMs – stopped the provision of their Auto DM feature in October 2017.

I don’t know whether you noticed it or not, but these days Twitter Messages tab is way much cleaner than before. The last spammy DM I got was one week ago ;)

Reason #4: Considering Not Engaged Followers As Dead Wood

Many marketers think that they can learn marketing from popular guys who aren’t marketers per se.

Without noticing their questionable approach, they spread dangerous ideas (half-truths actually) like wildfire: people buy from sellers they know and trust, social media is all about engagement (as if you can pay your bills using Twitter chit-chats, likes or retweets!), etc. And therefore the people who didn’t engage with you are nothing but dead wood.

So wrong! Actually unfollowing your followers who are active on Twitter but didn’t engage with you yet is just a marketing mistake.

Some people are shy, other people are busy, and so on. However, it doesn’t automatically mean that someone who didn’t visible engage with you or your content hasn’t read your articles or cannot become your customer.

These people aren’t dead wood. Get rid of such an idea, and if you’re a marketer then try to understand marketing rather than following a trend that is launched by people who have other goals than yours.

Reason #5: Looking for a Good “Followers vs Following” Ratio

Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee), Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) or other celebs have an awesome followers vs following ratio.

If you want a similar ratio, there’s only one real way to have it: be as awesome as they are, and people will follow you without expecting you to follow back.

Of course there’s the other way – fake it till you make it – follow, unfollow everyone, follow, unfollow everyone, and so on. You may get a great ratio (unless Twitter suspends your account!). And you may fool some people that will think that you’re an awesome person in your field. But that’s all, you won’t get anything big.

Instead of being a jerk, here’s an alternative: try to improve yourself every day. As for that Twitter ratio, unfollow only the accounts that are inactive and you’ll get a good ratio that will improve each and every month the natural way. Without losing prospects for no serious reason ;)

To Your Twitter Marketing Success,
Adrian Jock

P.S. Have you ever unfollowed active followers on Twitter? Why? After reading this article and assuming that you’re a marketer (this should include biz bloggers), will you still do it? Why?

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19 thoughts on “Unfollowing Active Twitter Followers? Usually Bad Marketing!

  1. Hello Adrian

    Great advice as always, there is so much information out there about how yo run your Twitter account successfully. Much of the information Is contradictory and obviously not everything is going to work for everyone.

    Personally I don’t not believe the popularity of social media presupposes, that consumers are no longer looking for human interaction. In fact I believe the opposite, that as a result of social media consumers are expecting to interact with their favorite brands in a more direct and personal way.

    I choose to follow the majority of my followers, and I will only unfollow them if they are not engaging with me after some length of time, or they engage on offensive of spam like behavior.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your view. I don’t unfollow the active followers who didn’t engage with me yet, even if a long period of time passed since we followed each other. Here’s why:

      – even if X didn’t notice my content yet, it doesn’t mean that she or he will never notice it. Why miss this chance? What do I gain by unfollowing?

      – even if Y isn’t interested yet in my products, services, content, it doesn’t mean that she or he will never be interested in my stuff. Why miss yet another chance? (For example, right now I’m using a laptop. Happy with it. Anything related to laptops is of no interest for the moment. But it doesn’t automatically mean that next month or next year I won’t be interested in laptops. This is just an example, maybe not the best one, but do you see my point?)

      So my piece of advice is to stop unfollowing the active followers who didn’t engage with you yet ;)

  2. Considering I unfollowed 2 people this morning on twitter, this post definitely sparked my interest. But, in reality, I did it because their posts do not align with what I want to look at. i.e. I don’t want to see a half-naked, artificially made from plastic surgery, rear end.

    I am curious though. For people who have 3000+ followers, how do you know that #297 hasn’t engaged with you yet? Is there a way to tell who isn’t engaging?

    And I’m glad I joined Twitter after the DM policy went into effect. I haven’t gotten one spam DM that wasn’t a result of new followers. Now don’t get me started on the Instagram DM’s from flirting obnoxious single guys!!! *so not happy about those!*

    1. Hi Johanna,

      Thank you for your comment.

      1) While I understand why you unfollowed that type of user, I don’t understand why you followed them in the first instance.

      The persons who post that type of content post them all the time, so you can see it from the very beginning unless you follow random accounts without checking their timelines (not a very good practice) ;) That’s the reason the article doesn’t refer to that type of special case.

      I don’t want my account to be related to such content in any way, and that’s why I never follow or follow back such accounts. If I don’t follow them, the case of unfollowing them isn’t taken into consideration :)

      The opposite case (not yours, not mine): when someone isn’t bothered by that type of content/user – in that case there’s no point in unfollowing that user.

      Conclusion: there’s no case when someone is supposed to unfollow that type of user (except for the case when that account was followed by mistake or blindly).

      2) The term “active Twitter follower” from my article doesn’t refer to the followers who engage with me, but to the followers who are active on Twitter. If they aren’t active on Twitter – haven’t posted anything in let’s say 6 months – that means that most probably they don’t use Twitter anymore – so it’s safe to unfollow them without losing a potential reader/customer.

      On the other hand, the term “engagement” is a little bit tricky. Twitter itself and also many tools consider “Likes” as engagements. But such likes can be made automatically by using various tools, without the person liking a certain tweet actually seeing it. So it’s a worthless metric.

      To answer your question, I simply don’t know and I’m not interested in knowing whether the follower #297 has engaged with me or not. I’m interested in specific types of followers such as

      – the subscribers to my newsletters
      – my customers
      – the people who reshared my content, etc.

      When someone matches one of these categories, it means they should be under my radar and I add them to my private Twitter lists.

      There are many tools that can help you see who are your engaged followers, but they aren’t accurate and cannot be accurate. Measuring Likes, useless chit-chat not followed by anything valuable to you, etc. If you want to know who are the followers you should focus on, then you have to do it manually or hire a VA.

      However, even if someone didn’t engage with you yet, there’s no point in unfollowing that person. See my reply to Michael’s comment.

  3. Adrian: I don’t unfollow my followers on Twitter. I, @Lyceum want to follow more tweeps, but I have reached the Twitter follow limit again. Do you have any advise regarding this issue?

    1. Hi Martin,

      Here’s my answer I promised on BizSugar:

      Your ratio of followers to following is close to 1, and that’s the reason you have a follow limit. While you can read more about this limit on Twitter’s site here, actually it won’t help you too much. Their acceptable ratio is undisclosed.

      Since I never had such a follow limit, I can safely assume that what I did so far was OK from Twitter’s perspective.

      Now here’s what I did and I still do:

      1) I don’t follow back: spam accounts (including “Buy Twitter followers” accounts), accounts with no profile pic, accounts without profile descriptions, jerk accounts (including accounts belonging to persons who obviously unfollow the followers as soon as they’re followed back), accounts with very limited or no activity, and several other categories of accounts.

      2) I don’t follow the people who didn’t already follow me – irrespective who they are. (This is valid for my business accounts.) Exception: very rarely I’m the one who follow first, but then I unfollow that account if I’m not followed back within a reasonable period of time.

      3) I unfollow the accounts that unfollowed me. No exception.

      4) I unfollow some of my inactive followers. In order to see what I understand by active/inactive users and the criteria for unfollowing inactive followers, please read the point 2/paragraph 1 of my comment posted above as response to Johanna’s comment.

      Should you have any question or there’s something not very clear, please let me know.

      P.S. (added later) One more tip: don’t unfollow many people at once, or otherwise Twitter may flag your account. How many are too many? Not disclosed. In order to be on the safe side, I don’t unfollow very frequently (once per week or so) and I don’t unfollow more than 20-30 accounts at once.

      1. Adrian:

        Thanks for your response. I have an issue with Twitter follow limit rule, set at 2000 and then you have to have at least 10% more followers than you follow. I have to start unfollow some of the inactive followers and then see what to do next.

        Do you have a favorite Twitter tool for this action?

        1. Hi Martin.

          1) 2000 is the old limit. The actual follow limit is 5000. See Twitter’s page mentioned in my previous reply addressed to you.

          2) “10% more follow than you follow” – this figure isn’t provided by Twitter. Twitter’s formal statement (see the same page mentioned above) regarding the ratio follower/following is: “this ratio is not published.”

          3) The tool I use is Crowdfire.

          1. Adrian,

            I have over >5000 followers, so you are right about the old limit. Thanks for addressing that.

            I have “figured out” the 10% more follow by myself! ;) I know that Twitter will never do a formal statement about this. I am still sad that they have put this limit in place, for us serious users of their service. I think that Twitter will always be my favorite social media tool / platform, but I wonder why they don’t support their true users.

            I have tested Crowdfire in the past. I have to give it another try.

            Maybe I should apply for your Twitter promotion service for my new blog and site about tea, new media, covering my self-publishing journey? I have to published some more posts first… ;)

            1. Martin,

              1) I don’t know why they have that limit but what I can say is that the figure is identical with Facebook’s limit. However, on Twitter you can pass over that limit while on Facebook that’s impossible ;)

              2) Sorry, the topic “tea” isn’t included in the acceptable topics for that service (point 4.2 from that page).

              The reason for this kind of restrictive policy is simple: my tweets aren’t a mix of food, shoes, marketing, politics, sports, etc. @IMTipsNews is a biz account and I don’t plan to make it a hypermarket-style account ;)

  4. Hi Adrian,
    Every now and then I can get a spam DM and I unfollow them immediately. I have grown my Twitter over the years and have accumulated close to five thousand followers. I was thinking of cleaning up because 5K is the cut off point. This will be some job as there is an increase of new followers and it becomes a dilemma.
    People who are not engaging with me now, may get interested later, especially when I have a product and/or service I want to promote. So many times when I’m marketing something new, someone from years past will contact me and say “I remember you!” and a new business relationship is formed.

    1. Hi Donna,

      Twitter’s 5k limit doesn’t refer to your followers (4.9k) but to the number of people you follow (2.2k – you’re far from the 5k limit). So don’t worry about the 5k limit.

      Anyway you already have a good following/followers ratio and if you preserve that ratio you won’t have any problem with the 5k limit – it won’t apply to you.

      So don’t unfollow active people for no real reason. There’s no dilemma in your case :)

      1. Hey Adrian,
        Thanks so much for clearing that up. I always get confused about that he hehe.
        I’m pretty new using Twitter for leveraging my business.
        You have helped me more than you know.
        Thanks bunches,

  5. Hi Adrian,

    Nice post. The only people I unfollow is the ones who unfollowed me first. Having said that, I take a good precaution while following people. I make sure to check their profile page, past tweets, profile image and some recent interactions to make sure it looks clean. If the profile looks spam or posting some degraded materials, I won’t follow them. Another thing which I check is their follow vs followers ratio. This tells me if they are going to unfollow me after I follow them. Many of them have huge followers and they follow few people. If that’s the case, I skip their profile.

    – Sanjeev

    1. Hi Sanjeev,

      Your procedures are almost identical to mine :)

      The difference is that I do unfollow almost all inactive accounts that had zero Twitter activity for the last 6-7 months. Some people don’t tweet each and every day, other people take a longer break for one reason or another. Not uncommon. However, if the break is longer than 6 months, usually that’s a strong sign that the account will never be active again. So I unfollow it.

  6. Hi Adrian, I love the new rule about DM’s. But I still get quite a few! They have gotten more clever with them I’ve noticed. They seem to be longer DM’s.
    I sometimes unfollow those that never engage after months. I also unfollow anyone that shows nudity in their tweets – amazing that still happens too!
    I may unfollow someone if they aggressively go after me to share stuff, etc and I don’t even know them.
    Thanks for sharing about this Adrian and have a great day! Hope you are feeling better.

    1. Thanks, Lisa, feeling better.

      I also unfollow anyone that shows nudity in their tweets

      Most probably that kind of content was posted on their timeline also at the moment you decided to follow them. So… why did you follow them in the first instance? Killing your time? :)

  7. Adrian, you can’t believe I haven’t checked my Twitter inbox since this year because I was sick and tired of reading automated messages that don’t in any way have something to do with me.

    For me, if you unfollow me and I notice it, especially when I’m not learning anything from you, I will unfollow you immediately. I have no idea if it’s a bad Twitter marketing strategy on my side but I have noticed that some people like to claim celebrity status.

    Thanks for sharing.


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