There are obvious phishing scams on Twitter and blatant sales ploys that are easy to spot. People use Twitter for all sorts of interactions (and promotions) but if you want to use it as a means for finding and participating in conversations of substance, focus on quality, not quantity. Quantity is always a goal, but we would never recommend it over quality.
When looking to foster a quality following, we often get asked about who to follow back on Twitter. The answer is getting more complex. Conventional wisdom says to follow to be followed, and that you should follow those who follow you. And while getting involved with Twitter should be as easy as walking up to someone at a networking event and starting up a conversation, as in real life, there are a few ways to turn off potential followers.
I may or may not be the typical Twitter user, but there are a few sure ways to discourage me from following another Twitterer back. These are unscientific and probably not worthy of codification, but an informal survey of other active Twitterers confirms that the following are likely to cut off the connections we’re all trying so hard to cultivate.
Auto-DMs Focused on Self or Product Promotion
With rare exception, an auto-DM is the equivalent of the iPhone’s “Ignore” for incoming calls. It tells other Twitterers that you are too busy or important to take the call. I often return auto-DMs with an immediate un-follow, particularly those that have nothing to do with me and everything to do with self-promotion. Like real-world interactions, people are interested in themselves, so to gain their attention, you must become interested in them. Here are a few examples (with identifying characteristics removed to protect the guilty):
- Thanks 4 the follow! Look forward to connecting. R u meeting the energy needs that fuel great performance? Find out here: [URL]
- Thanks for the follow - I have over 30 years experience in Information Technology, Social Media, and Search Engine Optimization
- Hi and thanks for the follow! My new product launched all about offline clients - take a quick peek at [URL]
Bios That Sound Like Marketing Brochures
Twitter is built around personal conversations. Even if you aren’t comfortable tweeting about your weekend, be yourself. Add your personality. If you appear to be the front page of a marketing brochure, it looks as though you are on Twitter just to increase sales. That is a turn-off in any kind of conversational setting. Dead giveaway bios characteristics include exclamation points and words such as “proven strategies,” excessive hashtags, and promises to increase my “earning potential” or grow my business overnight. Some recent examples:
- Consulting, Accounting and Tax Professional dedicated to translating your passion into a successful business! #taxes
- Author of eBoot Camp: Proven Internet Marketing Techniques to Grow Your Business
- Stunning, Upmarket, Dream rental vacation home in Davenport, Florida situated close to Disney and other theme parks.
On the other hand, a thoughtful and interesting bio is your conversation opener on Twitter. Below are a few of the Twitterers I recently followed and I really like their bios. They are descriptive, tell me a little about their areas of expertise and give me a brief insight into their personalities. I’d like to hear more about how they view their worlds.
- davidginsburg David Ginsburg. Music nut & tea drinker. Boston sports fan. Passionate, funny & sarcastic. Social Media strategist & principal, Hector Solutions. My friends call me Gins.
- alicenorthover Alice Northover. Freelance book publicist and marketer, random fact generator, wannabe world traveller
- tmiale Tom Miale. Multimedia engagement expert by day, aspiring culinary rogue by night... daddy all the time. A HUGE fan of the Mets, Giants, Isles, Knicks, and pork.
- thatbaldchick Virginia Higgins. Owner/author of thatbaldchick.com; SAHM; PR friendly; reviews; giveaways; photography; faith; and so much more.
Finally, make sure to proofread your bio. It’s okay to make the occasional spelling error in Tweets – it’s tough to get it all into 140 characters and to do so quickly. However, your bio is your first impression on Twitter, so make sure it crystallizes the personal narrative you want the world to read and remember.