Twitter Netiquette: 10 Reasons to Unfollow Someone |

Twitter Netiquette: 10 Reasons to Unfollow Someone

By Tad Chef / March 2, 2011

It’s 2011 and by now I expect most people to know what Twitter is and how it works. Still, many people who should know better commit unpleasant mistakes – or rather they ignore the Twitter netiquette. They do things that make me unfollow them.

I’m on Twitter for business and I expect to get valuable information from it, as well as some serious social networking with my industry peers. What I do not want is a lot of:

  • noise
  • low quality
  • off-topic content
  • ads
  • automated messages.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

In the past week I had to unfollow people for a variety of reasons. This is a shame, but sometimes a readable Twitter timeline is more important than particular users who don’t care whether they steal my time, confuse and frustrate me.

I’ve collected a few examples and generalized them in order not to point the finger at actual users. You know who you are, or least I hope so. Why? It’s not just me who unfollows someone for these reasons; other people do as well, but they don’t care enough to tell you. So what are the actual reasons I would unfollow someone?

1. Autofeeding every single Mashable post. If I want to read every post by Mashable, I can use my RSS reader or follow them. Autofeeding by itself is annoying. I want people to read posts they recommend to me manually. Posting everything Mashable publishes automatically is even worse, as there is not even a discovery involved. Everybody knows Mashable.

2. Retweeting ads using UPPERCASE TO SELL SOME AMAZING PRODUCTS YOU HAVE TO BUY NOW!!! Uppercase is the equivalent of shouting. Don’t shout at me or don’t use loudspeakers to make other people’s shouting even louder.

3. Frequently tweet old content aka “random post” or “from the archives”. Just imagine somebody coming up to you saying something like:  do you already know yesterday’s news? Have you heard what I wrote two years ago? You haven’t yet?

4. Tweeting every single posts of yours instead of just the best ones. Self-promotion is OK to some extent, but by force feeding me every single article of yours even when it’s mediocre, it’s awful. I follow you personally, not your publication or brand, so don’t make your account an RSS reader or mail subscription.

5. Sending me mass DMs requiring me to vote for off-topic stuff where I don’t have even a clue what it means. I know a lot of people who do SEO and social media marketing. Heck, I do it myself! Yes, even I send some direct messages sometimes and ask for votes on social sites. I do it personally and rarely. Don’t send me three of them a week without even addressing me personally.

6. Cross posting 10 tweets in a row from Friendfeed or other tools. Using third party tools to post to several social sites is OK as long as you don’t cross post everything everywhere. Also, some tools do it wrong – they collect the items and then flood my timeline with 5 or 10 in a row. Don’t do it!

7. Retweeting bad news throughout the day. I don’t want to read about war, the latest plane crash or some other awful news. Don’t tweet it unless you are yourself in the earthquake. I try to limit bad news as much as I can. It’s not that I am ignorant or I don’t care. It’s the other way around. I care so much that it breaks my heart. I sometimes feel downright devastated by all the bad news. Please don’t make feel like that at work.

8. Posting off-topic messages in large numbers. I’m on Twitter as an SEO, social media optimization specialist and a business blogger. I blog and tweet about these topics. Occasionally I add something amazing, like the discovery of 1235 potential new planets. Adding off-topic tweets all the time is too much though. I most probably follow you because of the topic you blog about, so don’t change it.

9. Tweeting in other languages too much. I’m from Poland, living in Germany and working for an English publication. I socialise with the international SEO industry in English. I have a few followers from Germany and even some Poles follow me but I try to limit my German tweets so that people can understand me. Tweeting in a different language from the one you have chosen is really rude. Just imagine talking in German at a party when barely anybody can understand it.

10. Tweeting dozens of links a day. While in a way it’s part of my work to use Twitter, I don’t use it as a full time job. Posting more than a few links a day really overwhelms me. If you post more than 10 of them, I’ll most probably have to unfollow you just to stay sane. I’m on Twitter to find out about the few gems, not to get bombarded with every single post someone has written on a given day.


I know some people have unfollowed me due to my brutal honesty. I told them that I can’t bear the Mashable automation so they unfollowed me as well. This is killing the messenger. I am not your problem because I might sound rude. I’m the guy telling you what the real problem is. Twitter netiquette is not rocket science. Keep it in mind and Twitter can be very valuable for business people.


* Image by Benson Kua.

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