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Stop Annoying Twitter Usage Trends

Wendy Piersall, CEO of SparkPlugging just published The Five Most Annoying Twitter Usage Trends, and I’m cheering.

I probably added about 700+ new people to follow – and it was really interesting to go back to my email inbox and see my Twitter emails folder stuffed with Direct Messages (DMs) from these people thanking me for following them. But what was really interesting was to see who seemed to “get” Twitter – and who I went out and immediately unfollowed.

It got me thinking about some of the other annoyances I’ve had on Twitter. Really – some people just don’t get it. Now, I’m not one to tell anyone how to use a social media tool – in fact, I really like some of the people doing some of these annoying things. I’m just saying that I think they are extremely annoying – and maybe *other* people using Twitter aren’t so forgiving as I am.

I was a lurker for a long time on Twitter, trying to make sense of all the nonsense. While there is tremendous value in , the humans who use it need to get a few knocks of common sense in their heads on how to use it wisely and well.

One of her top five complaints of Twitter abuse is also one of mine:

I can’t tell you how many messages I got from people after my following binge that said something like “Thanks for following me back! Want to make lots of money? Let me show you how”.

SERIOUSLY? Is that the very first thing that comes out of your mouth at conferences or networking events? No? Then why the HECK would you do that on Twitter?!

Seriously, lacking common sense here. Twitter is great for marketing, networking, and building up those connections and relationships, but why be spammy.

In one response to my follow, someone replied that they had honestly visited my blog 3298473 times. While it might be a spammy reply, it was fresh and unusual and caught my eye. THAT carries more weight that slamming your sales pitch right in my face – no matter how well you think it is working for you.

The problem with hard sales pitches is that they work. I wish they didn’t, but some people can’t help but move to the link when ordered to do so. I wish we were all smarter than that. Don’t give in to the pressure!

If you want to really build quality relationships with your customers, fans, and readers, then take a milder and gentler approach. It’s a microblog and communications tool, not a method of sharing your bathroom habits and demanding our business. Stop using Twitter like a baseball bat and annoying the rest of us.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted October 10, 2008 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Oh great now I regret sending you the DM…haha. No, I agree with you 100% Lorelle. Like any new social media/networking tool best practices take a while to emerge. People approach social engagement with the same “here is my message…smack, smack, smack” approach. It’s not an effective nor value building approach, some people will never get it. And sometimes people are receptive to change, and it is awesome when it happens.

    Self promotion is okay, its not inherently bad to promote yourself…it has to happen somehow…

    Best practices still need to emerge (and will) over time.

  2. sudipta
    Posted October 10, 2008 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Lesson learned. Don’t follow indiscriminately!

  3. Posted October 10, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    My favorite is when people tell me they’re twittering FROM the bathroom.

    On Wendy’s, I think my favorite was the bit about folks who create multiple identities to retweet their own stuff. That cracked me up. I’m pretty crazy, but even I wouldn’t have thought to do that…

  4. Posted October 10, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Things that annoy me on Twitter:
    – they hog me with 5 or even 10 tweets per day. I don’t just follow them but scores of others too. How can I see the rest then?
    – tweet for the sake of tweeting. hey, we are not trash bins so give us quality.
    – the guy has many followers but zero following. Wow, he’s so proud of himself.
    When a twitterer falls into one of the above, I go hit that “remove” button in a flash. Done.

  5. Posted October 12, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I would hesitate to take advice from anyone who “added 700+ new people to follow.” While they may, in this case, have done this in good faith, far too often I see people following me with 1000+ (or 700+) ‘followed’ and just a few following, and they turn out to be spammers. I’m more likely to block them than to follow them back.

    Rather than listing things that annoy me, here are my suggestions (I don’t presume to make ‘rules’):
    – Let your follow/follower lists evolve over time. Don’t try to take a shortcut – you’ll likely get overwhelmed and write the tool off without giving it a chance.
    – Follow people who you find interesting, who you may learn from, who you know or who you want to know
    – If you’re looking for people to follow, look at who the other people you follow are following. Follow a few at a time, and see whether you find them interesting. If not, unfollow. No big deal.
    – BE interesting and useful. Do that, and people will follow.

    My two cents.

    Lorelle – love the site. Keep up the great work.

  6. Posted October 12, 2008 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    @ davefleet:

    I totally agree with your advice. However, I just moved to Portland, Oregon, and decided to follow a bunch of the popular Twitterers in the area to find out what they are up to and what the scoop is on the area. That boosted my numbers by a couple hundred – and then dropped it as a few of them gave me spammy auto replies and ended up being junk. Not many, but some. It doesn’t take long to spot them in the list and out they go!

    I wouldn’t presume to add hundreds and hundreds, but there are reasons to add large groups.

    And I’m on board with your suggestions!

  7. Posted October 12, 2008 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    i’ve heard twitter so many times but i have no time to register. now i will take time for it

  8. Posted October 13, 2008 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    I tell my writing students who are learning to social network and market their books: If someone greets you on the street and says, “Hi, how are you?” you wouldn’t immediately ask them if they have gone to the bookstore and bought a copy of their latest book. Well it’s the same thing online. You must engage, communicate and be human…not some selling machine.

    Twitter is a wonderful resource, but like anything else it can be easily abused by those who don’t “get it.” You must be a friend to keep a “friend.” It’s the only way to succeed.

  9. Posted October 13, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Permalink


    Wow, thanks for the timely post/tweet. Still kind of new to Twitter. I just found Tweet Later after someone DM’ed me after I followed them. Thought it was the coolest thing – clicked on their link & liked the content & actually started a dialogue with them. I actually just tweeted about it.

    Your tweet to this link came soon after. After reading your post, definitely see the potential for hurting rather than helping & how it can actually be an annoyance rather than a good thing. Definitely didn’t intend to spam but may abstain altogether after hearing your take.



  10. Posted October 14, 2008 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    some great advice here – especially the ‘allow the list to evolve’, which was my instinct.

    as a newguy, i really saw the major inherent value of twitter when covering the protests and events during the RNC and DNC – people were able to warn us when and where different factions were converging, where the arrests were being made indescrimiately, and where other events were happening.

    before the convention weeks i was following 20 people and had 10 followers – at the end of the 2 week cycle i had filtered and was following 229 and had 125 followers and consider them all high value for my niche.

    again, if used properly it’s a fantastic tool. is a great matrix of your user efficiency etc.

    and is a fun twitool for voyeurs with time to kill at work.

    thanks for your commentary all, and appreciate the info for new wordpress ‘tards like myself


  11. Posted October 14, 2008 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with you Lorelle. They should have some kind of short acceptance quiz for some of these sites to filter out the people with no clue. Or at least some required reading before your allowed to blast your links out 50 times a day.

    I just signed up for a few days ago and set up the automated “thank you” note then I added some one and they sent me one back, only their’s had a link in it. At first I thought I should do that too, but after reading this I see how tacky that is.

    Thanks Lorelle

    Oh yeah, @Parantar Are you kidding? It takes about 3 seconds to sign up.

  12. Posted October 15, 2008 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    I took a long time to realize why I needed Twitter in the first place too. I have read countless articles on how people use their Twitter account — e.g. update their blogs, keep in touch with friends, etc. and I have figured out the best way it would “work” for me.

    I am not using Twitter to spread awareness on a number of things — charity, conservation, environment, health, volunteerism, and many others in between 😀

  13. Posted October 15, 2008 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    I signed up for Twitter and thought it was cool for the first few days. That was a few months ago and I havent thought about it until I read this post…! For those few wonderful Twitter days, I was exactly that: a twit and followed anyone and everyone I could. Now I m goin to have to log into my account and see what is going on. Thanks for reminding me ;o)

  14. Posted October 19, 2008 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    But I never had a best plugin for it on my wordpress, one tips please?

  15. Posted November 1, 2008 at 11:05 am | Permalink I use Twitter Widget Pro for twitter feeds from

    There’s a lot to choose from if you just search for “twitter” at

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