I’ve been a little caught off-guard lately with some of the presumptions people seem to be making now on Twitter. Where did all these expectations, such as an expectation for a response to a retweet or a “follow back,” come from? Why are people coming to […]

TwitterI’ve been a little caught off-guard lately with some of the presumptions people seem to be making now on Twitter. Where did all these expectations, such as an expectation for a response to a retweet or a “follow back,” come from? Why are people coming to Twitter with the belief that others should act and react just the way they expect? That isn’t how the real world works. Why should it be any different on Twitter?

Why Don’t You Respond to Me on Twitter?

Twitter _ People who follow alizasherman-2The other day I received a message from someone I like (but hardly know) asking me why I’m not responding to their messages to me on Twitter. In a momentary panic, I clicked around to look at all of my recent @ messages and my DMs (direct messages) and couldn’t find any addressed to me from this person.

When I asked them about their message to me that I failed to address, I was pointed to a retweet of one of my tweets they had put out to their followers. It appeared that this person retweeted me with an expectation that I would respond to that retweet as if it were a personal message to me warranting a response. Maybe they were expecting me to thank them for the retweet, and because I didn’t do it within 24 hours I’ve broken some new unwritten rule. Why didn’t I get the memo?

My theory on conversing on Twitter is that you:

  1. Do the best you can.
  2. Try to use the Golden Rule (as with all social media).
  3. Respond and thank people when you can, but you shouldn’t be held accountable for thanking every person every single time they mention you.
  4. Regularly tweet a general “thanks to everyone who retweeted me this week” or “thank you to everyone who mentioned me for #followfriday today” rather than naming each person by Twittername (and that should be okay).
  5. Try to retweet or give kudos to others when you can, and as appropriate, just because it is a nice thing to do.

Yes, I believe in being courteous, but I’m getting a sinking feeling that many people are now doing “nice and generous” things on Twitter for the kudos, public thanks and @ mentions they expect to get. Some people’s thinking now seems to be “that person has 5000 followers, so if I retweet them, they will thank me — their followers will see my Twittername and maybe even link over to my Twitter page.” They are co-opting nice gestures and turning them into strategic ploys. My skin is crawling at the thought. No wonder that, increasingly, the kudos I get from popular Twitterers is by DM instead of publicly.

Why Don’t You Follow Me Back on Twitter?

Twitter _ People who follow alizashermanWhen it comes to expectations on Twitter, I think an unrealistic one is expecting people to follow you back if you follow them. Sure, it would be nice, but my advice is to follow people because you are truly interested in what they have to say, or are truly interested in connecting with them in some way and cultivating a relationship, or both. What could you possibly gain by following random people purely in the hope that they will follow you back? Here’s what you gain: Noise! The dilution of your Twitterstream with worthless noise. Why use Twitter that way?

If you really want to know why somebody might not follow you back, I’ve come up with a little guide to different types of Twitterers who probably won’t follow you and the reasons why. Hopefully, this list will save you some disappointment and heartache.

  1. The Celeb — If they’re famous and actually using Twitter, chances are they just won’t follow you back. Unless they are @britneyspears.
  2. The Frugal Follower – If they are really good at time management and controlling their impulses, chances are they are only following people they know or who they truly admire, and you’re just not one of them.
  3. The Snob – They might not know who you are and therefore you are not worthy of a follow back. Or maybe they don’t like you.
  4. The Chooser — They only follow their friends.
  5. The Novice — They may not know how to follow you back.
  6. The Overwhelmed — They haven’t noticed that you’ve followed them, and just haven’t gotten around to seeing who is following them to determine who they want to follow back.

If someone doesn’t follow you back, that’s okay. Yes, there may be moments where your emotions get the best of you. I’ve personally seen people who I do know — who I’ve known for years — who have not followed me back. I admit that for a moment now and then I do think “Oh no, they don’t like me.” But then I let it go, because I realize that I’m probably guilty of doing the exact same thing to others. And I don’t mean any offense; I’m just #6.

Twitter _ People who follow alizasherman-1So the next time you’re interacting on Twitter with some expectations, realize that not everyone is on Twitter for the same reasons as you, and not everyone uses Twitter in the same way you do. There are actually no written rules on Twitter, and that’s okay. There won’t be anarchy on the streets because of that. There may be some hurt feelings along the way, but as long as we each do the best we can, what else can anyone ask for?

What are your expectations when using Twitter?

  1. Hey loved this article! I haven’t got that many followers and funnily enough only yesterday someone RT’d a warning I sent out, then I noticed one of their followers RT’d it again. Naturally I was shocked as I didn’t realise anyone actually reads my posts. I did thank them for RT’ing and also then checked out who they were and they both work in the IT field so I followed them.

    I won’t lie here, I do like feedback (less for my tweets and more for my blog) which is why I thought I should start commenting on blog posts I really like because I almost never do it myself. I merely read, enjoy then close the tab and yeah…it’s nice to get feedback once in a while :)

    BTW, I’m not doing this for someone to look at my blog, I found out recently I had more people who read it than I thought…just no-one actually comments.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Some people just have no sense. What I expect out of twitter is exactly what I get. Yes, I follow people and no, I don’t expect them to follow me back.

    I’m on twitter to advertise my blogs. If I get people to come and participate fine, if I don’t I’ll find some other way. People just don’t use their heads.

    Common sense says that you can’t expect others to act the way you do, just because you want them too. This type of logic makes no sense and that’s why people get their feeling hurt. They set their own selves up to fall then get mad at the other guy.

    Okay enough rambling — I’m gone.

    1. Blogvertising is cool. If you’ve got the right title for the blog, you can get a lot of people to go there (what they do once they’re there is another story). Twitter is pretty cool for that.

      I came here to this blog due to a RT, posted a reply and then also checked out your blog for a while. What’s so cool is we don’t need Google or Bing to get around, we link to each other and go places we never would have thought to go on our own.

      @Fantomaster once tweeted a link to some research indicating that 70% personal tweets and 30% informational (blog posts and other websites) tweets works best. People who are stuck at a desk, alone, all day really *need* a little of that personal stuff once in a while.

  3. I will add one to the last bit.

    Prudent Twitterers – those who follow the conversation via other means and will join in when something interests them. Like a stadium full of people all talking, it is sensible to focus your interest on the conversation that is meaningful to you, not every single word everyone says.

    Following is not necessary to hear what is being said on Twitter, yet those coming from the other forced follow type platforms don’t get that at all.

  4. Love it! Excuse the brevity – typing on mobile phone.

    I personally will NEVER follow anyone who’s any line of marketer, life or other coach, or has anything about making money in their username. No matter that they follow me, etc.


  5. Great article! I thought I was the only one who felt like you do.

    Between the robots (automated twitter apps – like Loves2Twit – the “view my sexy profile” twitterers, and the marketers linking to their get rich quick sites – I gave up on re-following – although I do try to refollow those who are like me – sincerely interested and interesting (okay I am not sincerly interesting).

    As for thanking for retweeting – I do my best but my best honestly my best isn’t really very good. A twitter relationship is an odd dynamic for sure – but it has lead me to some really great people.

  6. I’m fairly new to Twitter, and I’m going on 67 years old, so I thought perhaps I was old-fashioned when I decided to only follow a few people (say… a couple of hundred) who interested me. I did this so I could actually interact with some of them, develop mutually helpful relationships and have some fun.

    I also wanted to promote my powerful aging blog (I so hate “anti-aging”)so I can help dispel the common myths of aging, and the fear most women have around it. I do very little promotion, preferring to merely do a single tweet about a new blog post. While I am an NLP Coach and Health Practitioner, I talk about that very infrequently on Twitter. People who read my blog will find that out. That means they are already interested enough to follow me further, off of Twitter.

    A few days ago I had a flurry of new followers – say more than 50 – and it was a pain in the a** to figure out it they were legitimate followers. Most were not, but a few were real finds; people of a like mind, or just different enough to be quite interesting. The majority were out to SELL me. ICK! I’m not sure how it happened, but it proved my point. Quality trumps quantity any day.

    At my age, I know better than to cave in to doing what’s “expected”. That’s something I value about aging; no longer having to follow others rules.

    Thanks for the great post. I will re-tweet it. It’s incredibly valuable for the newbies like me.

  7. It seems that twitter is quickly becoming too “glittery”, and less intimate. I agree almost 100% with the post, but I’m not surprised this is happening. Twitter is stock full of desperate people trying to promote their business,blog,and products. That alone is (obviously) going to lead to problems.

    All in all, I like Twitter, and I’ll keep mine for the time being, when it gets too ‘fake’ I’ll let it go and move on to the next social craze..

    Great post,
    Tristen R.

  8. Its interesting that you choose to call people who dont know you or dont like you snobs. It sort of implies to me that you think random following is ok for everyone who is not a snob but then you say you don’t randomly follow.

    I imagine you see yourself as a Frugal Follower as you painted them in quite a nice light.

  9. Good post. :)

    I started using Twitter last year and was amazed that I could tweet someone a reply or a question and get no response. Fortunately I’m a “wait and see” kind of person, and over time I found some people who would reply fairly regularly. I follow those people most closely by doing a search for @someone and then adding that search to my favorites so I can quickly check up on everything they’ve been up to.

    I had been following about 250 people at one point (and Twitter seemed pretty cozy) when all the buzz was about “how to get more followers” and how we should or shouldn’t have to follow those who follow us. I zoomed in on SEOs and SEMs and Small Business Owners and in no time was following 1700 people who were following me back.

    My Twitter stream quickly became a blur of spammed repeated Tweets to get a free e-book, sign up for my e-newsletters, refinance my loans and so much more useless clutter. They largely ignored my tweets to them, and never made an effort to comment on their own to me… and when I checked the profiles of most of the people I was now being followed by and I was following back I saw that they were following and being followed by tens of thousands of people.

    No wonder they didn’t respond. How could they be reading and posting links to pages of interest and simultaneously read the tweets and follow the links of those they were following?

    I then spend a few days unfollowing almost everyone who was anonymous to me so that now I’m only following just over 100 people. I still have over 1,000 followers, but that number is ever so slowly inching downward. The good news for me is that now I actually enjoy Twitter again. I read the tweets of the “good guys” I follow, read their blog posts and retweet them. I never look to see who has decided to follow me anymore. If they want to be followed, all they have to do is start a conversation – tweet me and I’ll tweet you back. I’ll click on your @message to me a few times over the next few days and tweet you if you’ve said anything interesting. I’m using Twitter for social media now. Less is more. To me following too many turned Twitter into a largely anonymous blur of spammers.

  10. Great article! I don’t feel a need to follow someone just because they follow me. I follow because someone’s tweets appeal to me.

    I have found that many are only following someone in hopes of getting followers themselves. They are using the number of followers as an ego trip, even though a huge amount of them are not actually interested in anything you have to say or share. These number-hounds are not what I refer to as “legitimate” followers. I prefer quality over quantity.


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