Twitter abuse (Part 1): Gain followers the right way

You want higher follow-to-follow ratios;

You want your followers interacting (AKA retweeting, replying, recommending you); and

You want more overall follows.


All these are popular wishes for Twitter users (Tweeters), yet not all reach this success. I by no means am a Twitter miracle story or genius, but I have happened to grow my following list by about 150% in the last 15 days.

This started because I read an awesome post by @ceebee (Claude Bauchard), a self-published author who currently has over 271,000 followers as of publication of this post. [Note: I oppose his useless DMing. “Why” below.]

The problem, though, with you is:

–   the ratio of Tweeters following you is much less than Tweeters you follow;

–   your followers rarely retweet or recommend you;

–   tweeters aren’t following you; and

–   people actually – gasp! – unfollow you!

I know why this happens. It’s because:

Sooo true!

1. You automate a Direct Message (DM) a second after a user follows you

THIS HAS TO BE THE MOST ANNOYING THING. That was a virtual scream at those who abuse Tweeter-to-Tweeter connections.

To put this annoyance in perspective, I usually have 60 or so books on my To Be read (TBR) pile on Goodreads at any given time. I also have to fit in tweets, Facebook posts, blogging, reading, and my personal writing and editing around my 8.30-4.30, 5-day-a-week job. Also, I have a boyfriend, puppy, friends and mum and dad to pay attention to. Plus housework.

You get my point?

I do not – I say this unapologetically – care, not one *bit*, about your new, new! book! Or new, new! services. Or website. Etc.

I’m not a rude person, a DM to a stranger IS the rude thing to do.

Solution: tweet an individual, thank you message to the person for the world to see. No hiding. (Are you ashamed?)

We are all people. We want to feel cared about. Mass, scheduled messages do NOT say that.

2. Your tweets are almost all self-promotion

I’m here. HERE!

People care more about satisfying themselves than a stranger who happens to be an author selling their book. Shock? No, didn’t think so.

“Hard sells” and “constant self-promo” are the worst thing any author can do – self-published or not.

Solution 1: retweet other Tweeters’ tweets (what a mouthful). Balance this with your own tweets. Even 70/30 is better than 95/5.

Solution 2: you will make more sales by interacting with potential readers about their interests, problems, tweets. Get the link? If you make your tweets and interactions all about other Tweeters, suddenly people gain interest.

“Who’s that author that always helps me?”

“I wonder what types of books this kind, thoughtful author writes?”

This means you’ve put the choice in their court. Humans hate being forced. Tell them they must read/watch a book/film and it’ll change their life and they will not do it unless they choose it on their own accord.

And it happens that making a potential reader gain interest in your book on their terms does just this.

Stay tuned for Part 2, about writing effective tweets. >> What are your tips on gaining followers?


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56 thoughts on “Twitter abuse (Part 1): Gain followers the right way

  1. Excellent post. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. And I really do try to send individualized messages to as many followers as I can. Of course, even those individualized messages seem rather cookie cutter after a while. But you make some very good points.

  2. Good post. I’ve just started the early stages of my Twitter campaign, and use the website to share useful, relevant links, this one included. I think people need to remember that self-promotion is incredibly irritating. It might earn you a sale or two, but it’ll lose you a potential fan or twenty in the process.

    It’s all about giving before you can take… which brings me to my website. ;) Feel free to check it out if you’re interested!

    • As a reader and viewer, I can vouch that self-promo earns you a tonne of non-responsive followers and deletion by followers who would have responded.

      And I can confirm you eased into your website well. Awesome lead-in … By the way.

      Thanks for reading, Ryan.

  3. Pingback: Twitter abuse (Part 2): writing effective tweets | Novel Girl

  4. Great post! Those automated DMs completely turn me off. It’s such blatant self promotion, I no longer want to learn anything about the writer. Or rather I’ve learned enough to know I don’t want to know more. :)

  5. Hi again Rebecca. Been trying to tweet this yet nothing happens. Hope multiple tweets don’t appear. Can’t figure what is wrong. Ironic, since we are talking about repetitive tweets—oops.

    • Lolol! Well you’re forgiven, in case you were wondering. Sorry about the problems :(

      I’m just glad to hear you don’t have the horrid illness that is Auto DMing!

  6. I absolutely agree people should treat other bloggers as humans with interests and feelings. Auto DM—sounds like a horrid illness. Great post. Thanks.

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  8. A big-time author followed me earlier this week, and the SECOND I followed her back, I got a DM saying, “Hey, ‘Like’ my Facebook page!” I unfollowed so fast, I might’ve left skid marks on my keyboard.

    I love your site!

    • Good job. Sort of. That author should have personalised the request by chatting to you first. THAT has a better chance of working.

      Thanks for the compliment about my blog. Hope to see you again soon.

  9. I wholeheartedly agree with every point! I just did a post like this a week or two ago. I wish I could take our rules, print out a million copies, and put them on the windshield of every car in the world.

    • Above all if you be nice to people you’ll do better in the long run than trying to gain followers without being nice. May sound strange but it’s true. Or maybe that sounds right. In which case, great!

  10. Thanks for the reminders, Rebecca :) I’m all for not being spammed, but I don’t usually have time to log on and do the True Twit validation. I agree with helping out other authors and friends with retweets!! Always good to pay it forward. xx, Lauren

  11. I agree :-) I love helping others…it’s actually my day job assisting individuals with disabilities…

    I can’t wait for part 2!

  12. I’m happy to see that I don’t do the things you listed. Thanks goodness!

    Although I’m not sure I agree that you should follow back everyone who follows you. I think (and perhaps I’m wrong) that you should follow whoever you personally find helpful and/or interesting. And I won’t be offended to those who do the same to me. Otherwise, your stream is flooded with tweets that don’t always interest you, and it becomes really hard to find those that do.

    What do you think?

    • I used to think the same as you. I only wanted high quality Tweeters and useful followers. “No Flooding!” However, doing it this way takes time and building a large following already takes lotss of time!

      By adding anyone who is a writer, reader, editor, blogger or publisher I’m allowing the maximum amount of people access to my book when I finally get published. I want absolutely everyone to at least have the chance of seeing my novel. Then they can decide what they want to read. If I limit the exposure it only drives down sales.

  13. Thanks, Rebecca, for this excellent post. I was almost afraid to read it, but was relieved to discover I’m doing most of what you recommend (or rather not doing what you don’t recommend – this is why negatives are so confusing!). Looking forward to Part 2.

    • Haha yes, this is why double negatives are frowned on by editors.

      I’m relieved to hear you aren’t p!ssing people off on Twitter. Remember: relationships first.

  14. Oh my days, is there anything more insulting than an auto-DM? Like we’re supposed to believe it was personal and heartfelt?

    I was followed by some American dude- quite a big name by all accounts, albeit one I’d never heard of- and, as soon as I followed him back I got the “Hey! Thanks for the follow! I look forward to learning more about you! Have a nice day!”. Bleurgh. Maybe it’s the British in me, but is there anything more nauseating than the overly nice and polite American?

    As always Rebecca, you leave me hungry for Part 2.

    Oh, I almost forgot…Hey! Thanks for the follow! I look forward to learning more about…oh fuck it, I can’t manage this.


    • Ahh the “personal and heartfelt” aspect. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      … Yeah, and I can write a novel in one draft.

      As a fellow non-American I like your question.

      You will manage but it takes time to fall into your groove and find how it works for you.

    • DMs have lost their meaning and value. It’s an avenue for people to appear nice while introducing themselves and asking you to “Check out their book/website/FB/services”.

  15. Thanks again, Rebecca, for some more great advice. I’m still a noob when it comes to Twitter (you may have noticed! Or not.)
    Perhaps I’m being cynical but in my case at this stage I have very few followers, tweets and follow relatively few people (hopefully only because I’ve been at it a fairly short time), therefore apparently have little to offer at this point, I get the feeling that some, not all, my followers have joined me simply in the hope that I will reciprocate the following and increase their own numbers.
    Having said that, I guess if I increase my output of useful, interesting and entertaining tweets that may change.

  16. Yeah, DMs are annoying, and I rarely read them. It doesn’t help that the site doesn’t notify you have DMs unless you open the menu it’s in.

    Not to mention the “rumor” spam.

    • Oh, if you go to settings/options you can activate a notification email to warn you when you get a new DM.

      And you’re forgetting the latest scam: “I lost 10 kilos in X days.”

  17. You couldn’t have said it better. The DM “tactic” is SO annoying. I have started unfollowing people who DM me incessantly. It also gets super irritating when your feed is constantly bombarded by the same quote from an author’s book.

  18. 100% agree. It’s about manners, empathy and ultimately treating other people the way you’d like to be treated yourself. My twitterfeed is growing incrementally on that basis. It’s not in the millions, but I always try and thank someone for following me and instigate a wee chat, but if they don’t acknowledge that then I know that’s not a soul for me.

    I’d rather look at the names in my feed and have a rough idea of who they are and what they’re about then be seduced by a huge number in my Following box. It’s pointless! I run all my social media on that basis. Relationships matter. Numbers to some extent, do not. I also don’t follow randomly without a tweet to introduce myself or the reason why I’m following. I wish more people did that with me to be honest. I’d really like that.

    • If people could learn one aspect of Twitter these days, it’s kindness to others, as you pointed out. Seems everyone has the “numbers” side down-pat but somehow the message of treating humans with humanity become lost (and trampled on).

      Social media is about relationships! Not numbers. I don’t care what anyone says. Treat people with enough respect and you’ll gain interactive followers as well as huge numbers.

  19. Be positive and friendly at all times on Twitter. I never feel engaged with someone who is negative or falls out with others on there, and am surprised when people do it!

    • Oh, yes. They only way to be genuine is to actually be interested in other people’s needs. Sounds shocking in this age, doesn’t it? I do love real, caring Tweeters :)

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