Please Don’t do that! Please don’t drop your head into the palm of your hand and moan, “Oh gawd, please not another one!” because of this, I promise you, is not ‘just’ another one. I’ve been making mental notes about the activity that I have found disspiriting regarding Twitter for several months, and I decided today, after seeing something that really annoyed me, that it was time to speak up. Although I joined ‘Twitter Nation’ in May of 2012, I did not become a serious Twitter aficionado until the last 18 months or so; and during this time, I have questioned a lot, but I have also learned a lot, and namely the difference between tweeting with and without etiquette.
Some time ago, perhaps a month, or so, I read a tweet that left me feeling disheartened for the tweeter. She tweeted something to the effect that the saddest thing that had happened to her on this particular day was that she had been followed and unfollowed by the same person, and on the same day. While I knew what was behind the act of following and unfollowing, I did not understand it fully until today when I came across a blog post titled “How to Use Twitter.”
Have you heard of “churning” on Twitter? Well, it’s Twitter speak and was apparently what happened to the user that was followed and unfollowed on the same day. Churning is when a Twitter user follows and unfollows a large number of other Twitter users in a short period of time. It’s absurd, but thankfully @Twitter monitors this type of activity; those that get busted ‘churning’ get their accounts suspended. If you utilize programs and/or APPs such as Unfollowers, TwUnfollow, etc. (there are a myriad of programs) to monitor your Twitter account activity, you can see what users have unfollowed you. You also get to see how many of these users had their accounts suspended, but the suspended user’s name will not be provided. Apparently, it’s illegal to provide the Twitter user’s name. I say, shame them, show us their names!
I had this happen to me once and I called the user out on it. The Twitter user had followed me, I followed back because he was a writer/poet and less than a week later he was following me again. I sent him a direct message and told him that I believe he had just mistakenly followed me for the second time because he had only days before unfollowed me. He told me that he had not meant to unfollow me, that he had accidentally unfollowed me while he was unfollowing other users. We messaged back and forth with friendly speak for a while and I told him that now that we were ‘Twitter friends’ he could not unfollow me again. He assured me that he would not unfollow me. And true to his word, he did not unfollow me, immediately, but one day he disappeared and I assumed (yeah, I know, but I assumed anyway) that he had been suspended. Eventually, he showed up again, but he had changed his username and his photograph. The little trickster had unfollowed me, again, but it did not surprise me, nor did it hurt my feelings; after nearly 28 years in the military – I had no choice but to grow a thick skin, it takes a lot more than someone unfollowing me on Twitter to hurt my feelings.
I don’t understand the “churning” or those who buy Twitter followers. As far as I’m concerned, it means so much more to build a following. I don’t interact with everyone I follow or everyone that follows me, but I do interact with as many Twitter users as possible. We are people – we are not numbers. My ‘thing’ is writing; I am going to follow and follow back anyone that is connected with writing, and this includes readers, editors, etc.. I have, on occasion, prematurely followed some Twitter users back that had great literary names but now I make it a point of checking the users thoroughly before I follow anyone back. I do not want to be associated with users that have great quotes but post crude and nasty photos, of any sort. Now, I must, in full disclosure, admit that I do follow God on Twitter, but when he’s not being rude, he can be rather funny and everyone needs a good laugh from time to time. So God stays.
Since I brought the unfollowing programs up, I’ll continue on this topic long enough to make a couple more points. When I first started using unfollowers.com, I set up an automated thank you message for new followers that would go out automatically, but the automation always bothered me because it was too impersonal. It also welcomed users that I would not typically welcome, so I stopped the automated messages. Like the rest of earth’s inhabitants, I become busy with life and I am shamefully neglectful when it comes to acknowledging and thanking the Twitter users that follow me. I should work on this more but from time to time I do send out a tweet to thank all the new Twitter followers for following me, as well as those who continue to follow me. I am not saying that using the automation to welcome new Twitter followers is wrong, I am saying it’s too impersonal for me.
I feel the need to share with you what really annoys me. It annoys the beetle-juice out of me when Twitter users that are using the automated messages also set up automated messages when Twitter users unfollow other Twitter users “for no reason,” other than to build their number of followers. Why does this matter? Twitter users get the information and know how many Twitter users have unfollowed them, as well as who they are unless the user has already been suspended, so why are you tweeting this? I am not going to follow someone when I see this because it feels too much like Twitter bullying and intimidation. There appears to be a lot of Twitter users that wrongly believe that the more followers they have, the better odds they have of being certified by @Twitter. Those of you that believe this, are you listening? This is not true. It’s not going to happen. Your numbers have nothing to do with whether or not you get certified by @Twitter. Remember when I said that Big Brother watches? Trust me, Big Brother is watching and if it appears that you are playing the system, don’t be surprised to find yourself added to Twitter’s No Fly list, which will keep you from ever being Twitter certified. I’m just offering advice and the wise will heed my advice.
So yes, I have another pet peeve. Why in the world would you opt to not follow someone, but have the nerve to send a DM and say, “Hey, thanks for following me!” “Connect with me my FB page,” or words to that effect. The unfortunate, or fortunate in my case, about this, is that you cannot respond to the DM message because the user did not follow you back. It’s probably a good thing, for me anyway. I’m not an expletive type of gal, but DMs like the one I just used as an example can light a fire, depending on the day I’ve had. Are you tracking?
I like Twitter, and aside from the nuances I’ve addressed in this post, I enjoy the time I spend on Twitter. Like all social media, Twitter is time-consuming, but as a writer, I enjoy being challenged by the 140 character limit tweets. This provides me with the opportunity to play with words, and I love connecting words. I also enjoy interacting with like-minded people, sharing information and supporting published and unpublished authors, editors, publishers, readers, etc.. One Twitter user that I have become friendly with responded to one of my tweets with, “We are all in this together.” She’s right. If we are not following Twitter users that are part of who we are then we are abusing this social media venue. “We are all in this together,” we shouldn’t waste each other’s time. Be honest, tweet honest, follow honestly, retweet, support and be kind. Happy tweeting!