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Updated 11 Mar 2016

Why People Don't Follow

Once you've learned the ins and outs of what inspires a twitter user to click on the 'follow' button next to your profile picture, it's time to look at some of the possible ways you might be turning them away. Here are some potential roadblocks to growth.

They Don't Know Who You Are

An all too common mistake is neglecting to feature your name prominently in your profile. Whether your personal given name or the name of your business, the name you display under your profile picture (as well as your username) should make it clear exactly who is operating this account. If someone were to Google exactly what is written in that spot, any information about you or your organization on the web should be readily available to them. Your tweets are the place for you to be clever - your name is the place to tell people your name and nothing more.
Another common mistake is choosing a profile picture that is not an image of you or a representative image of your organization. You may really love the picture you took of a sunrise from your back porch, but it doesn't create a personal connection and familiarity with you. Users don't want to follow a faceless entity. The only thing worse than this is leaving your image set to the default 'egg'.

They Don't Know What You Are

Users may also be turned off following if they don't have a clear understanding of exactly where you fit into the world. Unclear bios that don't accurately convey what it is you do, or worse, bios that try to claim you do a million things at once, are a huge turn-off to potential followers. Users want to immediately be able to look at an account and see what the user is all about.

screenshot of twitter profile

Additionally, if your branding on your feed is inconsistent or unclear - for example, if your profile picture features a highly-stylized image of you looking like a rock star but your header image shows you standing in an office wearing a conservative suit - potential followers will be equally confused.

Your Tweets Are Low-Quality or Boring

Surprise! People don't want to follow accounts that post boring or useless content. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the truth is that thousands of users slog away posting targeted tweets and wonder why their follower numbers aren't growing.
They've devoted all of their energy to grabbing the attention of their target audience by posting content that references their field or interests, but failed to capitalize on that attention by delivering content that's genuinely meaningful or engaging. It's like shouting loudly in a crowded room until everyone looks at you, only to announce that you're hungry. You've got the attention, but you haven't held it.

screenshot of a boring tweet

Likewise, you're not going to gain followers simply by inserting relevant buzzwords into your tweets. Users will arrive at your feed, quickly fall asleep, and then immediately click away once they wake up.

Your Feed Reeks of Spam

The average user reads less than five tweets before deciding whether to follow an account or not. If your ratio of self-promotional tweets to genuinely valuable tweets is too high, the stench of spam will chase away potential followers.
Space out self-promotional tweets with a ratio of about one for every three non-promotional tweets. When you do self-promote, use unique language each time to show that you're not simply a crony pumping out content to get noticed.

You Might Be a Robot

Twitter bots are the bane of users everywhere. They post repetitive content and don't reciprocate follows or attention. Don't give off the impression that you might be a robot. Make your tweets unique - never copy and paste one tweet to share the same information. Even if the basic message or content is the same, always switch up the phrasing and add a new spin to your words. No one wants to follow a robot, or a human who tweets like one.

screenshot of twitter spam

You Don't Tweet Enough

Imagine there was a restaurant that served your favorite french fries. You would go every day and pick up a large order on your lunch break and eat them in the car. But one day, there were less fries in your bag than the day before. Every day that week, the restaurant gave you less and less fries and expected you to keep coming back.
This is essentially what you're doing to your followers when you don't post often enough. People won't want to follow if your feed looks like a ghost town. Yes, your posts should be high-quality, but a handful of daily posts are better than one incredible post a week. People follow to read tweets, so get tweeting.

You Tweet Too Much

Yes, over-tweeting is just as unforgivable as under-tweeting. Flooding the twitter-verse with every single thought that pops into your head over the course of the day comes across as over-indulgent. Think Kanye West...

screenshot of Kanye West's tweets

Even if your ratio of promotional to non-promotional tweets is spot-on, you'll still be looked at as being 'spammy' if you tweet too much. No one wants to look down their feed and have every other post be from the same account. If your average daily tweet count is in the double digits (not counting @replies), it's possible that you might want to look at your tweet frequency as a potential culprit for turning away would-be followers.
Stick to thoughtful, engaging tweets about relevant topics that your audience will find interesting. The occasional burst is fine, but watch out for over doing it. If you are pre-scheduling some of your tweets then you can get a few more in each day by using some early and late hours too.

Your Tweets Are Offensive

Yes, tweeting outrageous, inciting or offensive content might seem like a great way to pick up some attention. But believe me, this kind of attention is not the kind you want for long-term success or exposure and it won't provide you with the kind of meaningful followers that can make your twitter account worthwhile.
Celebrities can get away with this, but you will probably just be labelled a troll. They also tend to focus their abuse at other celebs, who have thick skins and also benefit from the elevated exposure.
Even if you're not deliberately trying to stir up trouble, always proofread your tweets with the mind-set of a public relations professional. Think to yourself, is there anything in this tweet that would make my target audience uncomfortable and unwilling to follow my account? If the answer is yes, you might want to think twice about posting.
All of this is not to say that you should be constantly toeing the line so as not to say anything that someone might disagree with - having strong and defined opinions is a great way to establish a unique voice that's worth following. But there's a difference between having strong opinions and, well, being a jerk.
Remember, posting something offensive and wetting your pants both gain the same kind of attention. People might remember you, but not for the reasons you want to be remembered.

No One Sees Your Tweets

This item might seem a bit cold and dismissive. You might be thinking, how can I help if no one is seeing my tweets? But the truth is, there's a great deal you can do to make your feed more visible.
These concepts will be covered in depth in other parts of this guide, but just remember the basics - use hashtags (particularly ones that are trending), @reply to interesting posts, retweet and quote tweets from other users, and engage with as many active users as you can. These actions, when sustained at a consistent level, will direct visitors to your own feed and ultimately lead to increased attention and more followers.

You Don't Offer Anything New

Some users believe that the easiest and fastest way to gain followers is by acting as curators - constantly retweeting other users and linking to outside articles, news stories, and media. But this is why users follow news feeds like CNN and aggregators like Buzzfeed.
Why would they follow a random individual who has taken it upon themselves to be a content gatherer? Even worse than being useless, these accounts also come across as automated. Refer to the above section about bots. I've got nothing against The Biebs, but do we really need a few thousand Bieber News feeds?

screenshot of Justin Bieber News profiles

By all means, you should do some curation, but it should be heavily filtered. It can't be the only reason you give others to follow you. Try and make your curation about sharing some of the best things you discover during the week. Like finding a gem amongst the stones, and giving it to your beholden followers to examine. If you are filling your Buffer with anything you find just to fill it up then you may want to rethink your strategy.
Of course, this is all just advice. If you tweet with character, consideration, and clout, you can break these rules occasionally and get away with it.
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