hashtag-1120301_1280When people don’t follow you back on Twitter, you may wonder, “Is it something I said?” Maybe. But some people may not even get far enough to read your tweets. Here are, in my humble opinion, the top five reasons why people don’t follow you back. (Of course we’re assuming you’re not a spammer or porn star. And let’s also assume that you know why you’re on Twitter, but that’s fodder for a future post.)

Screenshot 2013-01-31 10:57 PM1. You show the egg in your profile.
If you take the time to add a simple profile picture, you appear to be a genuine human being, which is what you are, right? People follow those they know, like and trust. It’s hard to know, like and trust an egg. Unless you’re a chicken.

2. You have no bio.
If you don’t complete your bio, the people of Twitterland don’t know who you are. Share a little about yourself and why we should want to read your tweets. Include a link to your blog or website. Twitter gives you 160 characters for your bio (vs. 140 for a tweet). Use them. Take a look at what my friend Bonnie Dean has done with her bio. (Click image to enlarge.)

Bonnie Dean Twitter profile

3. All your tweets are in broadcast mode.
Unless you’re a Twitter superstar (hello, @GuyKawasaki), people expect to see engagement in your tweets. Try @ replying to people and retweeting others’ tweets. Your Twitter stream shouldn’t all be about you, you, you. Make it interesting.

4. Worse, you haven’t tweeted anything at all.
Don’t commit the newbie error of following people on Twitter before you’ve squeezed out a single tweet. Be sure there are at least a dozen bits of brilliance in your stream before you begin following. We want to see what you’re tweeting so we can determine whether to follow back.

5. We don’t speak Dutch.
Some of the people who follow me write exclusively in Portuguese or Dutch or other languages I can’t read, so I won’t follow back.

So how do you encourage followers?

  • Add a photo and write your 160-character bio.
  • Show your personality.
  • Tweet interesting content; engage with people.

Do you have other reasons for not following back?


  1. I think it’s funny that people EXPECT to be followed and get upset if they don’t. There is no law that says because you follow me, I must follow you. I never automatically follow a new follower, nor do l expect the same. I do check all those things you mentioned — a real photo vs. an egg, a profile, and what a new follower tweets about.

  2. Boy where do I start? I am not best at Twitter myself, but I tend to unfollow people who tweet just about anything – I feel like they don’t have a focus and are not able to filter just the important information for me.
    I also unfollow people who tweet too much about unimportant things e.g. Off to another meeting. I’d like to throw a question here: What do you think of quotation tweets? Doesn’t it turn you off when people post quotes of famous (usually dead) people?

  3. Ah, that’s a good question, Andrea. Yes, some people on Twitter are not focused at all.

    I do like the occasional inspirational quote. Some people tweet ONLY these quotes, and that’s fine if they identify their Twitter stream as quotes only. So you can choose to follow if that’s your “cup of tea.” Other Twitterers seem to share too many trite quotes within their normal stream. I usually unfollow after a while.

  4. Thanks for this post Donna. If people meet your first two criteria well, I’ll often follow back. However, in many cases, I unfollow immediately (like annulling a marriage), if they respond with a direct, hard sell tweet. If they are in a line of work outside communications or marketing, I may give them them the benefit of the doubt but when they claim to be “social media experts,” their credibility disappears in a tweet.

  5. I appreciate this Donna. As someone dipping a toe into Twitter (but hopefully more than that) this is useful advice. Thanks for sharing, and I will, too, as my comfort level with Twitter rises. One hesitation I have is the non-desire to appear “light” or “off topic” – but that’s a standard neurosis most people have, so I think I can get over it!

  6. Roger, you raise a valid point. I think it’s fine to be “off topic” once in a while, to tweet about something close to your heart, or something that makes you laugh. I believe it’s good to show our human side, not just business all the time.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. Oh dear, I have just committed newbie error #4. How do I fix that? Unfollow them all, squeeze out some engaging tweets then follow them all again? Or just carry on, taking my newbie error in stride? Thanks for a great article, Donna – wish I had seen it 7 days ago!