Last year, having read illustrious articles like “How To Expand Your Online Reach”, and “Develop Your Author Platform Or Suffer Anonymity!”, or even “12 Routes to Achieving Online Omnipotence”, I made the foolhardy choice to follow every bloody writer on Twitter I could find, in the hope they’d follow me back.
Surely, with ONE BILLION FOLLOWERS, I’d be drowning in engagements and impressions and all those magical metrics of modern life!
It worked, to an extent. I’d post a blog, pin a link to my Twitter profile, then follow 50 writers I could find using hashtags or bio searches. Maybe two thirds of those would follow me back.
A week later, I’d do the same thing, but then unfollow anyone who hadn’t had the GOOD BLOODY GRACE to follow me back – the ungrateful gets.
Now, though, I realise this was not only a douchebag strategy – for which I am ashamed – but it’s also completely futile. Yes, I raised my follower count to over a thousand, but how many of those are genuine accounts? How many of those have real people behind them, tapping away on a keyboard somewhere and agonising over “Nurturing Your Readership Influence”?
And I’ll tell you for why.
They’re doing the same shit too:
Follow a gazillion accounts – wait for the follow-backs – unfollow the fuckers who ignore you.
It’s for the birds! These people don’t interact with you. They just set up some automation nonsense to retweet content they never see and promote shitty books they’ve never read.
I’m not going to retweet something to my followers unless I’ve read it and enjoyed it. I know it’s a bit late in this post to talk about integrity (ha!), but if there’s one thing you get from following me, it’s honesty in what I write and the content I retweet. I’ve read that stuff and deem it worthy of others’ attention. That’s the point of Twitter.
So, in an effort to diminish the slurry of content that became my Twitter feed, I made the foolish decision to place irritating Twitter tools on Mute, so the ones that followed me didn’t know I wasn’t reading their swill, and didn’t forsake my own fledgling account.
One has to ask – why the fuck is there a Mute button anyway? I follow someone, but I don’t want to see their tweets? Yeaaaaaahh, there’s not much use for that apart from to massage a few egos and make everyone feel their reach is much greater than it is.
And that’s a problem.
All this data that Twitter gathers, it’s all codswallop if your followers are a load of bots mining for hashtags or randomly engaging, like a room full of Roombas bumping into each other. What’s the point in Broadening Your Digital Fuckwittery if there’s no sentient wit to endure the wit-fucking? (Note-to-self: Mark that for inspiration poster…)
To rectify this situation, I turned to the tool that had caused it: Statusbrew.com, where you can see your followers, your unfollowers, your blocked accounts and the ones you’ve muted. Turns out, I’d muted 250 out of 1,200.
It’s damaging for a number of reasons to continue with this tactic. For one, I remain another +1 for the accounts that clog Twitter with inanity, endorsing that which I disagree with so vehemently.
Secondly, it clouds my own data with dubious numbers. I don’t have 1,300 followers really. Who knows how many I have? I’ve completely muddied my ability to fathom the audience.
So I’ve been unfollowing those muted accounts – and already they’ve been responding in kind, in all their efficient, automated glory. Forty accounts have unfollowed me in direct response. BYE BYE!
Thing is, it doesn’t matter – I finally realise that now. What matters are the increasing number of writers who I actually enjoy chatting with (some of whom, it must be said, I found through my bio searches). I get a lot more out of people who join in with a joke, or share their views on a piece of art, or who ask me a question, than I do collecting Likes from soulless automatons.
So, here’s a list of reasons I might have unfollowed you in the last few days:
Signs of automation
- Tweeting about Crowdfire or RoundTeam
- Clear sign I don’t want anything to do with you.
- Thanking every new follower
- This is so unbelievably irritating – both utterly inane and needlessly boastful.
- Retweeting badly edited books
- If the original author can’t string a sentence together for a marketing campaign, there’s little hope for the book itself. And there’s no way the ReTweeter has bothered to read it.
- Retweeting books with a seven-year-old’s cover design
- Hard to take your opinion seriously if you disseminate such laughable unprofessionalism.
- Retweeting porn
- Sort out your automation, mate. You’re spreading filth through a public, uncensored network.
- Repetition of scheduled tweets
- Some authors spend a day filling their tweet schedules with witticisms and quotes to tweet throughout the year. They inevitably repeat. That annoys me. It’s like having a chat with one of those pull-string dolls.
- 50+ tweets a day
- No one has that much to say, seriously. One account I’d muted had an average daily tweet count of over THREE HUNDRED. I’m fairly active, and mine is at 4.19. THREE HUNDRED!
These are things I’ll probably unfollow over, but it might not necessarily mean the account is automated. And these are purely my opinion – so you keep doing you, and I’ll do me, over there, on the other side of the internet, with the other cool kids.
- #FF lists
- If you want to introduce someone you like, fine, but a list of names is nothing but a machine-gun loaded with notifications. It’s actually worse when you get added to one, because you’ll get notified everytime someone Likes it or replies to say THANKS!
- Inspirational quotes
- They have never succeeded in inspiring me. They’re trite, irritating and usually pretentious.
- Ceaseless self-promotion
- We get it – you wrote a book/blog post/doting book review. You don’t have to tweet about it incessantly thirty times a day.
- .Openly replying to praise
- When people reply to praise with a full stop at the beginning of their tweet, it means all their followers see it as well. It’s like someone saying, “Hey, nice haircut mate,” and you turn to a room full of people and scream as loud as you can, “OH HEY, THANKS GUY, FOR COMPLEMENTING MY HAIR. HEY EVERYONE, THIS GUY LIKES MY HAIR. THANKS EVERYONE FOR ENJOYING MY NEW HAIRCUT – AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.”
- Facebook or Instagram links
- These links are automatically pushed from the other platform, so won’t include the picture for Instagram, or the full sentence for Facebook. It’s ANNOYING. The former, however, can be fixed using this recipe at IFTTT.com.
Even more subjective dislikes
- Believe what you like, but I’d rather you didn’t shove hocus-pocus into my unapologetically Darwinian eyeballs.
- As above. If your religion makes you think abortion is evil, you’re evil.
- Racism, misogyny, bigotry, homophobia, GamerGaters, Trump supporters, Ukipers
- Idiots, basically.
- Any praise for Mother Theresa
- Don’t tell me she was a saint. Don’t mention her, unless you’re a horror writer… The woman was a monster.
If I’ve unfollowed you recently and you think I’ve been harsh, I may well have been. After the first hundred, I paid less attention to the Muted accounts before hitting the Bye-Bye button. Just give me a nudge and say hello. That’s all I ever wanted, really. Just a hello.
I hope to “Enjoy Rewarding And Meaningful Interaction With Peers“.
(Sorry for swearing.)