Heidi Custers

Download vCard

Heidi Custers

Johannesburg, South Africa
Heidi Custers

How to lose Twitter followers in 10 steps

17 March, 2009, by Heidi, category Rants, Twitter

After the runaway success of the article @Shebeegee very kindly allowed me to write for NerdMag, I thought I’d put it up here, so if you haven’t already read it, enjoy. (Please keep in mind that this was written as a cheeky humuorous article and should not be taken too seriously – a bit like me 😉 )

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Since the advent of Twitter, and more recently, Qwitter, we have all been able to feed our strange compulsion to know exactly how popular we all are. The race to see who can gain more followers has consumed some South African Twitter users way beyond what can be considered healthy. And Qwitter makes it worse. Now we also know when people un-follow us and what tweet caused them to take such serious action.

We have all read about strategies to get you followed on Twitter, but what about those that get you unfollowed? I’ve compiled a list of 10 things that are guaranteed to shed you some followers, gleaned both from my experience of people unfollowing me and from people I’ve had to stop following to prevent me from killing them. So if you’re brave (or stupid) enough, why don’t you try a few of them?

1.    Tweet about how many followers you have
No matter how excited you are that you just got to 250 followers, nobody else gives a damn. It also feeds our sick need to steal others’ thunder by unfollowing someone when they crow about their milestone.
“Oh, really? You have 300 followers? No you don’t, you have 299! Ha!”

2.    Constantly retweet someone who has the same followers as you
We heard what they said the first time – they have over 1000 followers, what are the chances we’re not following them? There is nothing more annoying than hearing the same thing twice, apart from maybe those delightful souls who retweet themselves. Um… Okaaaaay then weirdo.

3.    “@” someone to tell them you have sent them an email or DM
The great thing about email is that it lets you know when “You got mail” and if you have email alerts enabled it even lets you know when you have a DM. You do not need to “@” someone to tell them this. Not only does it make the recipient of the message feel patronised but it makes the rest of us feel jealous and left out. What are you guys talking about that is so private that you can’t discuss it in front of everyone but not private enough that you have to broadcast that you said it?

4.    Swear on Twitter
With the notable exceptions of people like @Exmi & @Tertia, swearing in tweets will get you dropped faster than you can say “Fu…” you get the picture. It is the SA twittersphere’s pet hate. I find it amusing as we all swear when we see each other “in real life” but it seems dirty (not in a good way) and disrespectful when done on Twitter.

5.    Tweet & retweet links with no context
Clicking on links in Twitter is great. You get to see what other people are thinking/doing and you get to learn a lot. But no matter how useful your links are, if you constantly tweet things like “This is interesting: http://tinyurl.com/dgj8g2” with absolutely no indication of what your link is about, I will eventually unfollow you. You have at least another 80 characters left – could you at least give us a clue!?

6.    Spam us with 20 tweets a day asking us to Digg your latest blog post
If the content is good, we’ll Digg it. You sound needy & desperate. Please stop.

7.    Write long essays that span over 3 or more tweets
140 characters. It’s a limit, not a guideline. We have all struggled with keeping our posts within this range but we manage, why cant you?

8.    Tweet more than 50 times a day
I don’t know about you, but it frustrates the hell outta me when I grab a few minutes to check my Twitter stream, only to find that someone has filled up the first 2 screens. It doesn’t matter how much I like you or how valuable the content, when you are so prolific that I can draw your profile pic from memory, my mouse starts moving uncontrollably toward the Unfollow button. Unless you are live tweeting an event, space them tweets out OK?

9.    Tweet nothing else but what song you are listening to
We can’t actually hear the music so we don’t care what you are listening to. It’s as simple as that.

10.    And finally, do all of the above combined.

Can you imagine someone who swears in 200 tweets a day which ask for Digg love in a series of “continued…” tweets with unexplained links? That person would be dropped like a bad habit before you could say “RT: @me @you Hey, I’ve sent you a DM telling you what song I’m listening to. & guess what? I have 300 followers, oh no, make that 299, 298…”


  1. Heidi |

    @Melissa LOL, Thanks Mel. I laughed while writing it… and I laughed even more while reading some of the comments on NerdMag. Sjoe, some people get really passionate about things! 😉

  2. Art2 |

    Great stuff! Yesterday someone sent me an SMS to tell me to look out for a tweet. HUH???
    No. 9 is my pet hate, along with telling me what you’re eating, apropos of nothing at all. And please, please, please (you know who you are)don’t tell me you’ve just woken up or left for work or arrived at work. Here’s a newsflash: the entire working population of your country is doing exactly that, at almost exactly the same time. You’re so damn special?

  3. Heidi |

    @Art2 Totally agreed! @Exmi and I will be writing a follow up: “Ten more ways to lose Twitter followers”
    and we’ll definitely include that one! 🙂