how to not be annoying on twitter

I’ll start this post off by saying that I categorized it under “imperfect” and “crawling” because:

1.) I’m not a Twitter star. I have less than 500 followers. I’m not on Twitter every day. And I personally have room for improvement in many of the areas that we’ll be discussing today.

2.) I’m super sick right now. I got the flu on Monday, which became a sinus infection over the last few days. I had so many customers remark on my condition while volunteering at the library today that I felt like saying, “You wanna take my place behind this counter? Because last time I checked nobody but me likes volunteering on the weekend.” So, yeah, I’ve been cranky, and some of that crankiness is sure to shine through in this post.

Before we begin, I encourage you to hop over to Delilah S. Dawson’s blog posts on this topic here and here. Her philosophy on social media is similar to mine, so I consider reading her posts to be a prerequisite to reading this one.


The idea for this post has been brewing in my mind for a while now. I’m glad to finally be jumping into writing it. Let me start by saying that a social media account should not be a numbers game. If you only look at it that way, you really should stop reading this post because we clearly don’t have the same philosophy on this. To me, a social media account is a chance to connect meaningfully with others in a way that wouldn’t be possible without said social media account.

Twitter is the largest social media platform for writers, and many bloggers out there agree with my saying that. I know multiple ones who’ve switched their focus from other platforms to Twitter. And with that in mind, here are some pointers for how not to be annoying there.

Don’t buy followers.

There’s no way to avoid the solicitations of these spam accounts. Most of them are easy to spot; their company name and slogan do the trick of letting you know they’re a marketing firm. They follow you to make you feel special and like you owe them something. There’s no nice way to say this… when it comes to accounts that promise to get you more followers, you’re NOT special. You’re not special because these spammers follow the max number of accounts they can every day, hedging their bets on follow backs from users who follow back every account that follows them as a practice.

Let’s say you don’t follow them back. Well, they have your account information on their following list now. They will direct message you spam, either immediately or shortly after following you. They’re hedging their bets that people will fall for their message, click to learn more, and eventually spend some money. They say they can get you followers. That’s true. They will get you lots of followers, but most of them won’t be legitimate. It’s a game of circle jerk for these companies that follow each other, trick people into following them back, and then incessantly tweet spam.

If you pay for a company like this to get you followers, they will tweet advertisements for their company from your account. They will also re-tweet lots of random tweets as you, which quickly turns your feed into a bunch of nothing new and makes it seem disorganized and RANDOM. Let me promise you that any legitimate followers you had will quickly unfollow you, angered by your spam. Because that’s what it is. You’re paying for a company to turn your social media account into an advertisement for their company. You’re paying for them to tweet random things that say nothing about who you are or what you have to offer the world as an individual with your own thoughts and opinions. Like I said before, legitimate users of Twitter will be able to tell this in a heartbeat, and we will hate it. We will unfollow you. Some (like me) may block you.

If you follow my advice and avoid these “buy followers” schemes, then do yourself an extra favor and do more than avoid their bait. Block them. Report them. Educate other users that this is not the correct way to use social media.

An Internet friend Sylvia Heike had some points to add to this section. They are legit and definitely add to the conversation. Check them out below.*

Don’t spam people. Just don’t.

You can still be considered a spammer even if you don’t fall into one of these “buy followers” schemes. If you’re tweeting the exact same link or product regularly, that’s spam. “But it’s my self-published book!” That may be true, but if you’re spreading the same message over and over again hoping for clicks or a sale, then that’s the definition of spam. “But I don’t tweet my book link everyday, just every INSERT OTHER TIME FRAME HERE.” Look, I get it. You’re a once-a-week-er. A once-every-time-you-get-a-new-review-er. A once-every-time-someone-tweets-to-you-about-your-book-er. A once-every-time-someone-follows-you-er. Something triggered you to tweet about your book. Again. And again. And again. And hey, I’m unfollowing you. It’s not because I hate you or your book (I wouldn’t know if the book’s any good; me and pretty much everyone I know only reads books personal friends or trusted colleagues recommend). I’m just sick of your book spam.

Personally, when I publish a book, I’m planning on tweeting the purchase link ONE time and pinning it to the top of my profile, never to be linked again. If I tweet about my book after that, it’ll only be because there’s something new to say about it.

Well then how do I market my book?” That’s a very good question–so good that the Internet has hundreds of thousands of pages of content that tries to address that very question. Devote some time to learning about marketing strategies that actually work. And, in the meantime, stop spamming people.

Limit your re-tweets.

Re-tweets are cool because if someone said what you wanted to say and they said it better, then you can let them know that by clicking “Re-tweet”.

Re-tweets are awful because most users don’t think about re-tweets in the way I just explained them. They think of them as “likes”. I tweet that I wrote 1,000 words today, and someone re-tweets me as a way to say, “That’s cool! Congrats!” Well, all right. I get that. But unfortunately, if you’re re-tweeting something that insignificant, then you’re probably re-tweeting everything. You’re probably re-tweeting tons of shit every day. Your feed doesn’t become about what your voice has to offer the conversation, no, it starts to look like spam to me. And honestly, if other people have that much more to say than you do, then what does your account offer to me as a follower? Nothing. I can just go follow those other people instead of you to get a similar feed. And I will. Because I just unfollowed you, annoying re-tweeter.

Be purposeful in your hashtag use, not random.

Hashtags are cool because if a lot of people want to discuss a certain topic, they can do so, using a hashtag and then clicking on it to read the discussion.

Hashtags are awful because most users have no idea what they are. They’ve never clicked one. But they see everyone else using them and think, “Better get in on this.”

The other day I saw an account hashtag the word #huge. I’m not even joking, God, I wish I was joking. Tell me, what am I going to find when I click that hashtag? Not an interesting global conversation about the topic of #huge. Because #huge is not a topic. It is a word you #hashtaged #because #you #don’t #know #how #to #hashtag. And I’m not going to @mention you explaining what so many others have taken the time to figure out. Nope. I’m going to unfollow you instead. Because you’re annoying.

Limit your mentions.

Mentioning someone in a tweet is cool, either as a way to reply to something they tweeted, or as a way to tell them, “Hey, I think you’d like this tweet. It’s up your alley.”

Mentioning has become annoying, though. Because guess what? People have figured out how to use the mention as a tool for spam. Yep. More friggin’ spam. I have seen accounts with literally NOTHING ELSE on their feed besides mass mentioning rampages.

Yeah, that’s a great way to describe it. They go on these journeys where they @mention @lots @of @people @in @one @tweet, and then don’t actually SAY ANYTHING in the tweet. Users see that they were mentioned, it gives them a dopamine hit to be recognized, and they like it (or worse, re-tweet it).

Writers have come up with a hashtag that does this well. #FF stands for Follow Friday, where every Friday my feed is full of FIVE MILLION USERNAMES, and they’re expecting me to follow all of them?? Guys, I don’t go on Twitter on Fridays anymore! Seriously, Fridays are out of the question now due to spammy mentions.

If you’ve mentioned me this way before, and you’re reading this blog going, “Oh shit, Rebecca’s so mad at me. She thinks I’m so annoying.”… well, yeah, I won’t lie. I wouldn’t be including it on this list if I didn’t think it was annoying. But I forgive you, because maybe you legitimately find people to follow using that method. Personally, I don’t. It’s overwhelming to me. And annoying.

Avoid controversial trending topics.

People will disagree with me on this. Because after all, I just talked about how awesome hashtags are for bringing people together to discuss something. Yeah, half the time that discussion is about a controversial or political current event. People are using hashtags correctly to discuss it.

I don’t take part in these discussions. In fact, I now avoid ALL current events on my social media. Even the ones that are positive! Because to me, it gets annoying fast. Why? Herd mentality.

Here’s an example–when gay marriages were recognized across the US due to a Supreme Court decision, everyone flocked to social media to celebrate or groan, depending on their views. Then those in favor started rainbowing their profile pictures. I sat back during this shitstorm thinking, “Goddamn, this is annoying.

Yes, as a member of the LGBT community, I had a stake in that conversation. But I didn’t speak out. Because by that point the herd mentality had set in. Everything I could say had already been said. And God forbid any other news show up during those few weeks, because the herd was too busy feasting on the LGBT train. All aboard, folks, it’s an all you can eat buffet on here!!

Writer and blogger Adam Dreece said all this much nicer than I can in this post. The best quote from it? “I’m willing to have a more intense relationship with a smaller group of readers than a bland one with a larger group.” In other words, he wasn’t interested in the herd either. He found it just as annoying as I do.

Just be yourself.

At the end of the day, legitimate users will consistently interact with your tweets once you’ve truly grasped the concept of BEING YOURSELF online. If you’re trying to be a marketing machine, you’ll be considered annoying. But if you’re genuine and full of integrity in your online interactions, then you’ll start to receive genuine interaction right back. Give what you wanna get, folks.

When it came to blogging about this topic, being true to myself meant being pretty harsh about some of these things that annoy me to death. I could’ve dumbed this down, nice-ed it up, put the polite spin on it…but then it wouldn’t be what Rebecca finds annoying on Twitter, it would be what Rebecca would like you to please stop doing, pretty please. If I’m annoyed, I sound annoyed. That’s my tone in this blog for a very good reason.

So… what do you find annoying on Twitter? Comment below.

*Sylvia’s addition:

I have one correction for your post. When you talk about buying followers, it might be good to warn that it may get your account BANNED, and also, I believe buying content is a separate thing. When you (or should I say IF you’re foolish enough to) buy followers, you don’t (and almost never should anyway) give them your Twitter login.

It’s the companies that sell “curated content” and other services who every now and then post a tweet that advertises their company. And yeah, the “quality” of the content they post for you is mostly re-tweeting whenever someone mentions you or mentions a certain hashtag or simply anything tweeted by your followers, plus all the automated “thank yous,” “how I did on Twitter this week!” statistics etc. = A whole lot of automated spam with no actual value. These companies are, to my knowledge, usually more or less legit, whereas buying/selling followers goes against Twitter’s TOC.

Posted in blog, crawling, imperfect, intertextual, janus, novel, people, rambling about, states of being, states of motion, twitter, writing |Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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