Sunday 8 May 2011

Why did somebody unfollow me on Twitter?

I'm sure it's happened to us  all. One day you notice that you have, say, 500 followers on Twitter. The next day you only have 498. Where did those two go? Have you offended somebody? It can be quite alarming and worrying to see your follower count go down. But don't be depressed by it - there are many valid reasons for somebody unfollowing you. Let's have a look  at them:

You said something that offended  them Yes, people do unfollow for  that reason- but most of the time when their temper has cooled, they'll be back. If they aren't, then  they probably weren't the sort of friend you wanted anyway. We always tend to assume that this is the reason people unfollow us, but unless one day you lose your temper and indulge in a foul mouthed rant, it's much more likely to be for a  different reason such as one of the following ones.

They followed you out of curiousity Maybe they had seen a RT of one  of your messages or a friend had mentioned you or given you a #FollowFriday shout. So they followed you for a while but found they weren't really interested in what you were saying. Fair enough, you can't please everybody!

They only followed you to get you to follow them back This  is probably the most common reason for people unfollowing you. A business looking for new followers may well go through the follower list of some of its fans, on the assumption that their followers will be interested in the same things. They then follow you in the hope that you will follow them back. If you don't return the follow within a few days, they will unfollow you to free up space in their follower count and move on to follow somebody else.

They weren't a real person in the first place spammers set up multiple accounts that use bots to automatically find and follow as many accounts as possible, again in the hope that YOU will follow THEM so that they can send you things be Direct Message that might get their accounts closed if they sent them as a normal tweet, such as links to porn and  gambling sites. If you don't follow back within a certain time, they will unfollow you. And good riddance to them!

I like to think bots all look like this.

Their account has  been suspended or closed  Maybe Twitter has closed their account, or maybe they have decided to leave Twitter or close an account and open a new one.

They are close to Twitter's following limit unless you have 2,000 or more followers, Twitter will only let you follow 2,000 people. When you reach that limit, you have to unfollow  some people in order to free up space to follow more - and you drew the short straw. But if the person has added you to a  Twitter list, they will still  be  able to see your tweets, just not in their main timeline, and may well continue to chat with you and keep in touch just as if they were still following you.

The reason for them following has passed Maybe you have been running a competition - there will always be people who follow you just to enter and then unfollow when it finishes. Similarly if you win a competition,  the business or person running it may follow you just for long enough  for you to send them your address by direct message, and then unfollow you once they have your details. Or maybe they wanted to contact your business  about something, perhaps to send a message of complaint, or  -if you are lucky- praise.  Or perhaps they were enjoying sharing your tweets about a topical event which has passed.

They haven't unfollowed you - or at least not out of choice Twitter is  a capricious little bird and  sometimes likes to give us surprises like unfollowing people on our behalf  without telling us, or telling us that people have unfollowed when they haven't. So if you are surprised to find that a particular person has unfollowed you, send them a polite message asking why. You may find  they are as mystified as you and will re-follow.

If you really want to know who unfollows you and when they do it, there are all sorts of apps  that will tell you. and maybe even send you an email each time it happens. One of the most popular is  but I strongly suggest that you don't use it - worrying about every follower you lose  can lead to worry, depression and paranoia. What a pity to get so stressed about losing followers who were probably spammers or bots in the first place!  Instead of worrying about the followers that you lose, concentrate on interacting with the followers that you keep. That way makes Twitter a far happier, more rewarding experience.

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