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Common sense rules on who NOT to follow on Twitter

29 June 2009 12 Comments

I try to do a spring cleaning of my twitter account periodically.

I usually try to follow people from not only within my domain, but with wide variety of domains and interest groups- though I must admit, I have mostly ‘my types’ that are following me and whom I tend to follow.

And while doing so, I have my own rules on who to follow and who Not to follow.

In case you subsribe to notifications of followers via email (and it is advisable to do so IMO in case you intend to grow your account organically)- you could set some qualifying criterion within the email itself. Twitter changed its notification format since some time- and do give some prelimiary information within the email itself.

When I receive an email notification, I look at certain indicators within the email message itself about the followers account, qualify, click to their profile- qualify again and then hit the follow button. I don’t want to follow potentially useless accounts and at the same time Love to follow those that are interesting.

  • Updates to follower ratio. A very high number of followers but few tweet updates means the member has amassed followers using some dubious auto follow services. This means two things-
    • The person has obvious business interests or spamming interests
    • It is unlikely that I would be able to have any meaningful interaction with the member if they have thousands of followers

    I avoid accounts with updates to follower percentage being between 1%-10%; though the guards are up till about 40%.

  • The account name.
    • Blatant announcement: Once you see a name like ‘moneyexpertz’, ‘homebasedincome’,'getrichquick’, ‘millionairebeautiful’ or any of those names- save your time. Unless you really think they can get you rich quick. Then you are OK. You can even stop wasting time reading this post.

    Mr ‘FastRiches4you’ is giving away life changing million dollar worth products for just $29. Limited till next 48 hours only. First come first serve.

    • Numerals in account name: Though many people do this because they were late comers to the ‘twitter name land rush’, but most overtly commercial interests use this tactics to project their business nature, artificial personality or just create fake accounts. Names like ‘panna5031′ raise clear suspicion. But use your judgement.

Maybe not so much ‘Nicole 88′- Nicole is a common name and it is likely they haven’t got their names. Keep the radar up though. Some spammer might want to project themselves as a young girl to get your attention.

  • Profile Photo:
    • In case of doubt on the previous parameters- this can be a give away. ‘Nicole88′ with a pic of a suggestive picture: The suggestive smile, the wet hair and the evocative eyes are a give away. Ditto for pics of men. Run.
    • There is a difference between creative and tacky. The moment you see someone with their arms open, face in palms trying to look cute, clevage- or no pic at all- these are tell tell signs.
  • Some accounts are actual people and not quite as overt. In that case, I actually go visit their accounts and randomly check tweets. You could know a lot by the tweets of a person. If all the tweets are just blatant sales calls or automated feeds or bogus text you are better of cancelling that noise from your ‘profile’.
  • In the usual course of checking my twitter updates, I also keep a tab on who is sending seemingly useless tweets from time to time. And then filter.
  • I personally also avoid ‘mentors’, ‘loose fat’ and generally- profiles that I don’t stand to gain anything from.

I do however enjoy profiles with a personality- even if they are ‘commerical’ profiles.  I enjoy reading other blog posts and interesting link-outs. Again qualititave assessment rules.

Remember it is your choice more than anything else. Just like your choosing your friends in real life. But in today’s cluttered, commercial overkill world, it pays to be frugal sometimes.

OK one more thing- all account names used as examples are only that. Examples. I don’t know whether they exist in real or not at this point of time. So use your own judgement. But actually if you use multiple criterion as described above- you have a very good chance of identifying the wanted from the otherwise. So use multiple criterion not just one.

In case you are actually are the owner of one of the names used in the examples and are making an honest attempt at it, let me know and I’ll remove that example. But honestly- get rid of that name.

I have removed the tweet widget from my website- takes ages to load and all that appears by the time the tweets load is one big black box.

But you can follow me @shalabhpandey.

Cheers.

Thumbnail: beautiful depiction of Twitter overcapacity by Mykl Roventine

  • http://ambuj.wordpress.com Nitesh Ambuj

    Some nice observations on twittering. Just like you, i too prefer to follow people from wide spectrum though I do not have any set criteria as who to follow and who Not to follow {there might be some implicit – or may be snap decisions}..

    Cheers,
    Ambuj

  • http://ambuj.wordpress.com Nitesh Ambuj

    BTW, I forgot to mention – I’m there as @nambuj

  • http://armchairtheorist.com Jonathan Wong

    You’ve nailed two Twitter pet peeves of mine:

    1. People who self-proclaim they are some sort of affiliate marketing rock star or life coach or guru or some combination of those terms,

    2. People who’s Twitter stream is almost entirely (~80%) populated from Twitterfeed or HootSuite

    Here is one more:

    Normally, I will always follow someone back in Twitter unquestioned if they follow me and I think they are a real person and not a bot.

    However, after I follow them, they proceed to send you an arrogant DM thanking you for being their loyal follower like this:

    “Hey there! I’m humbled to have you as my loyal follower! Keep an eye out for some exciting Tweets from me, okay?”

    That’s an immediate unfollow for me. Anyway, in most of these cases, the Twitter user is using an automatic follower harvesting program like Hummingbird with these pre-canned messages.

  • http://www.shalabhpandey.com shalabh

    @nitesh yes many a times there are snap decisions- you have a point there. It would be an interesting study to know what causes that snap decision. I suspect, on inspection, you could find one of the points mentioned in the post to be the reason

    @Jonathan- Great point. I could not agree more on how irritating the auto responder tweets are. I think Twitter guys were mulling over to stop them as a policy.

    Pretty useless feature if you ask me.

    Luckily they come as a DM and by now I am conditioned not to read them. If someone sent a tweet to me saying “You are my loyal follower” (!)- I’d give Mr humble a piece of my mind in the open forum. Hummingbird or not :)

  • http://nicole.sg nicole

    Unfortunately, I had to stick numerals to my nickname for twitter, since names like mine, or even other names are common.

    I generally look at their profile before deciding to follow them back. I can’t be bothered with 0 updates and xx followers type of twitter accounts :P

  • http://www.shalabhpandey.com shalabh

    Nicole- it is funny- you are on my twitter- and I do follow your tweets. Realized later that I used a similar sounding example in the post- but believe me at first instance @nicole85 sounds suspicious :p

    I almost used Nicole 85 in the example- (power of the subconscious mind?)- but then better sense (or consciousness) prevailed.

    Thanks to Hisham for referring to the post on Twitter.

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    therentalbug

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