How To Lose Twitter Followers

By Neuroskeptic | August 12, 2012 10:41 am

Inspired by David Allen Green’s How to lose followers on Twitter, I thought I’d share some tips on what to avoid doing if you want to be big on Twitter.

I don’t think there’s any simple formula for gaining followers. You just need to write “good” Tweets, where “good” is impossible to define and depends on what kind of thing you write about. However, there are some simple things that are pretty sure to lose you followers.

  • Send a Tweet. Every time you Tweet, expect to lose followers. People will unfollow you when they see your Tweets and decide they don’t want to hear more, and the more you post, the more likely they are to feel it’s too much. Dense “bursts” of Tweets, in particular, may make people decide that you’re taking up too much space in their time line. Tweeting is the only way to gain followers, but unless a Tweet actively gains followers, it will lose them.
  • Treat Twitter as a social network. It’s not. Or rather, it can be, and that’s fine if you want to use it that way. But if you care about your follower count, then you’re probably not thinking of it as one. Twitter is a microblogging platform, so treat your Tweets like blog posts aimed at your audience, rather than personal “chat” messages. Chat Tweets rarely gain followers… and that means they lose them (see above). It’s not an absolute rule, and if you never chat, it will cut you off from important discussions. But chat should not be your default mode.
  • Spam. There are various services that make cookie-cutter Tweets on your behalf. Usually they’re a round up of your recent Tweets, or a follower count. In general, avoid these. Your followers want to hear from you, not from a robot, and they want to hear your thoughts, not your Twitter stats. They can be useful, but think very careful before using these.
  • Be Bilingual. If you speak more than one language, that’s awesome. It means you can communicate with more people. But don’t try and mix languages on the same account. If half your Tweets are English and half are French, then half your Tweets are essentially just meaningless clutter, for any given follower. Make two accounts, one per language, and you’ll get more followers overall.
CATEGORIZED UNDER: blogging, media
  • Neurobonkers

    Just a point on using Twitter for one-on-one conversations. I only recently discovered that the key is to place the @xxxxx at the very beginning of the tweet. This way the tweet only gets seen in the timelines of people that also follow the person you're tweeting to.

    For the same reason if you want people to see a tweet beginning with @xxxxx then put a symbol before it.

    This is why you often see people beginning tweets with: '@xxxxx

  • Neuroskeptic

    Yeah that's handy. Still I think too much chat puts people off.

    When I'm deciding whether to follow someone, I avoid people with loads of tweets because they'll probably clutter me up. Whether or not they use @x it still raises the tweet count.

  • Alex

    How do you determine what counts as “loads of tweets”? Surely that's a function of how long they've been on Twitter? There's up to 6 years' difference right there.

  • Neuroskeptic

    Alex: Well, if in doubt, my rule is, if they have more Tweets than Followers, don't follow. But of course I make exceptions.

  • Cathy Shouse

    Alex, it isn't your total number of tweets you have ever made that puts people off. It is the number of tweets you post during the day. I once followed someone because his tweet that appeared on someone I follow intrigued me. He made a dozen tweets in an hour, for several hours throughout the day. I dumped him.



No brain. No gain.

About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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