This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand

Twitter is awesome. It’s a great way to connect with people who share your interests, an easy way to keep them updated about your goings-on, and just all-around good fun. But there’s a downside too. Some seriously spammy and irksome practices have emerged.

Several weeks back, I wrote a blog post called “10 Facebook statuses to avoid, 10 to embrace.” People seemed to really enjoy the article and requested a follow-up covering how not to tweet. Well, this is that article.

The following are things that really annoy me when it comes to Twitter usage. These practices might not irritate others, but chances are they do. Please feel free to leave a comment on this post to add to my list. I’d be more than happy to post a follow-up article!

Here goes…

 

True Twit Validation Service

I HATE True Twit Validation. I’ve gone on rants about it before. True Twit is annoying and sneaky. It’s not a problem I have to deal with anymore, because I’ve turned off email alerts and no longer check my DMs (to be discussed later in the post at length). But when I was a newbie to Twitter, I’d get several emails per day, stating I had to follow a link and enter a RECAPTCHA to verify such and such user. Who has the time for that? True Twit also says, “hey, open an account with us and you won’t have to verify people anymore.” But guess what? If you do that, then YOU send out these annoying messages to everyone who tries to follow you. At first, Twitter newbs might diligently perform the task, but eventually, they too will grow frustrated and quit validating their follows with True Twit. If you have this service activated on your account, it will cripple your following. Not a good practice.

 

Who.Unfollowed.Me

Who.Unfollowed.Me is another app that I seriously hate. Do you ever get those @ mentions:  “@novelpublicity @emlynchand @authorkarma unfollowed me today?” Why on Earth would you want to publicly tweet that? It does nothing of value and makes you look like a loser. Do you think by tweeting that the users will feel bad and follow you back? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I wish I could unfollow you twice for being so annoying.

 

DM spam

The DM (or Direct Messaging) feature on Twitter is actually really cool. I once used it quite a bit, but no more! When you amass a large following it just becomes too difficult to keep up, because there is so much DM spam circulating. What’s DM spam, you ask? Well, there are the accounts that are hacked and send out messages like “Better read this, it says really bad stuff about you…” and “I laughed when I saw this picture of you…” Then we also have the auto-DMs as well as users who send auto-DM-esque posts but haven’t figured out how to automate. These posts are often silly or boring greetings “Thank you for following me, I look forward to reading your tweets,” “Glad you’re following me! I LOVE TWILIGHT! I’m going to marry Edward one day,” or a link to a book purchase page, blog, or Facebook fan page, telling you to connect with them there. I can’t use the DM feature at all anymore, because it’s too cluttered with all this junk.

 

Asking people to follow you back

“Hi @novelpublicity I just followed you. Follow me back please! #teamfollowback” Really?! No, I’m not going to follow you back, because that’s obnoxious. A better approach might be:  “@novelpublicity I just discovered your website and really enjoy your advice for writers. Am following you now.” This shows that you are actually interested in making a connection, not just in building your following.

 

Scheduling redundant posts

There are many really great apps that allow you to schedule posts:  HootSuite, TweetDeck, SocialOomph are just a few of many. There are also RSS feed schedulers like TwitterFeed, NetworkedBlogs, Triberr, and the Tweet Old Post plugin for WordPress. Be mindful of how often you are sending out the same message. Setting an RSS feed to run every half hour or even every hour is way too often. Sending out the same message, announcement, or request over and over again won’t sit well with your tweeps. If you tweet 20 times per day and more than half of that consists of RSS links and repeated announcement-style posts, that’s just not good. Tweeting too many links will also get you flagged by TwitCleaner for misuse.

NOTE:  TwitCleaner is a free app; go check it out now! You can run a scan of your Twitter account and find out if you engage in any spammy behaviors. TwitCleaner will tell you what you’re doing that could be perceived as misuse and how to correct it. You can also use the app to sort through the tweeps you follow and remove the spammers. The app has over a dozen misuse classifications and is a fantastic tool!

 

Posting tweets to Facebook

Don’t post your tweets to Facebook. Seriously, don’t do it. The tweet and the Facebook status updates are different animals. They’re different lengths, have different looks to the URLs, and most importantly require different post frequency. I can easily tweet around 50 times per day, which is definitely on the high side but is also okay on Twitter. I hardly ever update my Facebook status more than once or twice per day. If someone posted on Facebook 50 times in one day—I don’t care if that someone was my own mother—I’d probably unfriend or unlike ‘em.  Some people have vehemently protested this point, saying it’s okay to post tweets to Facebook in order to save time. Nope, I disagree. Ultimately, it’s your call to make. Personally, I’ve disabled Twitter and all Twitter-related apps on Facebook, so I’m not going to see any of your tweets there anyway. Others might have done the same thing, so that’s something else to consider.

 

Indecent language

This point is two-fold. First, it’s not a good idea to use overly sexual or profane language on Twitter. Twitter is public access. Your tweets don’t just disappear into the interweb matrix. They live on forever and are searchable. Forever. Consider that. You also can never be too sure who is following you. There could be young children or someone from your personal life like your mother or an old flame. Just be careful about using expletives. If you’re a writer, you have another layer to worry about. Be personable, yes, but be mindful of your grammar too. Making constant spelling errors or resorting to text-speak might not cast you in the best light for potential readers.

 

Insulting other tweeps

I’ve had people hurl insults at me through Twitter a few times, and I’ve seen it happen to others. That’s not what Twitter is about. You don’t have to like everything everybody says, but you shouldn’t start a public battle either. If you really feel the need to be heard, try to find the person’s email address or send a DM, but don’t @mention them and then start your tirade. This is against the spirit of Twitter, and it makes you look like a jerk. If you find yourself the subject of an attack, try to ignore it (I know that’s hard).

 

#FF and #WW chains

This one probably surprises many of you. What Novel Publicity doesn’t like Writer Wednesday and Follow Friday? It seems like exactly the time of thing they’d like! Yeah, it seems like it. And I actually really like getting #WWs and #FFs that are written just to me or to Novel Publicity. Tweets like “#FF @novelpublicity their article on how to set-up a Facebook page changed my life! Lots of awesome advice on their site.” I almost always respond to these tweets with a thank you and throw an #FF back at the tweep who sent it. These heartfelt Twitter testimonials are very touching. What I don’t like is this: “#FF @novelpublicity @emlynchand @authorkarma @novelducky @etc,” but this is what I see the most. Just giant chains of Twitter user IDs with an #FF tacked on. I’m sorry, but that’s spam, people! Tell me you disagree, I dare you 🙂

 

Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book!

Yes, I saved this one for the end, because you all knew it was coming. Too many authors assume it’s okay to constantly spam people with requests to buy their books. Why would anyone listen to you unless you try to build a relationship with them first? Twitter is about interaction. It can be a powerful sales tool, yes. But your efforts aren’t going to be very effective unless you build real relationships. There are a lot of cool people on Twitter. Get to know some of them, why donthca?

While I was writing this article, I was tweeting. I’ve asked my tweeps to tell me why they hate it when someone tweets BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK. I leave you with their responses.

LorcaDamon:  If you're a writer, tweet clever, profound things. THEN I'll check your profile to see if you have a book for sale!

AuthorAPrice:  I hate it because 1. I'm not their target audience, 2. It makes them seem 1-dimensional, & 3. Who honestly *likes* spam?

LindsEBrown:  There's a big difference between personal branding & narcissism.#whybuymybookgetsannoying

vBartles:  I recently “unfollowed” someone who kept tweeting “buy my book” because I felt like she had nothing else to say. I skip commercials on tv with my dvr. I don't want them on twitter! I prefer when someone else recommends a book.

Cecilia_Ryan:  Because if you can't say something more intelligent than ‘BUY MY BOOK', it's clearly not interesting enough to pay for.

EliaHawthorne:  It reminds me of the “headon” commercial that no one likes. I don't like being yelled at; the book should speak for itself.

EvangelineHan:  I hate it when authors do that because it isn't professional behavior. No self-respecting author would do that, IMO.

OceanDog:  How many bestsellers r sold via twitter? Repeated ‘BUY MY BOOK' & ‘READ MY BLOG' tweets r spam, desperate & self defeating.

Grmarlow:  I hate it because it's not like I forgot the person had a book since the last time I saw a tweet about it.

 

Emlyn Chand, President of Novel PublicityAbout this post's author:

Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and is of the YA genre. Learn more about Emlyn at www.emlynchand.com or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or GoodReads.

About the Author

  1. Thanks for commenting, Rodolfo. You’re right. I only dislike the chains that string a bunch of @mentions with #WW or #FF. I really like seeing recommendations for only one or two users with the reason why they are being recommended 🙂

  2. The secret. I’m guilty of a few of them too (or have been in the past). It’s hard to run a perfect Twitter game, but there’s a lot to be said for trying!

  3. The other thing that annoys me is posting Facebook status updates to Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are and should be for different audiences, and recycling the same content on both is hardly the mark of a creative person.

  4. I’m okay with #ff and #ww when they include a reason they think the person is worth following. But when it is just a hashtag and a bunch of usernames with nothing else… no thanks. Otherwise I agree with everything except the Twitter -> Facebook. I hate FB and refuse to login / post there unless I have to. I cross-post to FB just to stay (marginally) active there since it’s the only place I’m connected to some people and don’t feel like posting in 2 places.

    Lately I’ve linked my G+ to both twitter and FB (and unlinked twitter to FB).

    To many places to keep up with…

  5. Hi, Lenny. Thanks for your comment. Of course, I’m not suggesting that one NEVER attempt to promote their books, just do it sparingly and stay sociable while on social media.

    The karmic chain phrase on Facebook was implemented to help protect the participants from landing in Facebook jail and also to serve as a mark of who’s actively participating and who isn’t. I originally wanted to have the post read something like “I’m participating in Karmic Friday and promise to get and give likes,” but some people didn’t feel comfortable with that, so we kept it general.

    I’m the first to admit that we don’t follow all the rules all the time, but we certainly try! I’m very mindful of spamming our followers. Do onto others…

  6. I definitely agree with you on this point, but it seems many people don’t! Sigh…

  7. Thanks for sharing, Vic. I’m glad to hear that Who.Unfollowed.Me doesn’t force tweet announcements. I don’t really monitor my unfollows, but I do have a Formulist that keeps track of them. Just never look!

  8. You’re absolutely right. #WW and #FF are the number one offenders, but there are other exercises that are overly hashtagged and @mentioned (yeah, they’re verbs now).

  9. I haven’t tied anything into G+ yet, but it’s no small secret that Google+ is my *favorite* social network. So much more valuable interaction there!

  10. Always glad to shed some light on Twitter’s many intricacies. At first I felt bad about bowing out of #ww and #ff, but now I don’t really care 😛

  11. I agree that Lorca’s statement is wonderful. And yes, much of this spam can be avoided through filters (but certainly not all of it). I hope this article will help users who engage in some of these behaviors to reassess and stop doing things that might get them unfollowed or blocked. Some of these may be personal preferences (I especially think posting tweets to Facebook and engaging in #WW chains may be argued by some people), but I’ve talked to many others who agree with the issues raised. All might not agree, but many do, and that’s something worth considering.

  12. I agree with most of your points. The two rules I do break are “buy my book” and “redundancy.” As a writer, I’m sure I can do better with the redundancy, but I have noticed on days I don’t promote myself, both my book sales and website traffic fall precipitously. So, I’m not sure what the solution might be. The reason I enjoy Twitter is to learn about new books, new blogs, new websites, etc., and if those I follow didn’t engage in shameless self-promotion, I would miss out.

    Thanks for your post. I, um, tweeted a link to it!

  13. Hi Devin! I responded to you on G+, but I’ll tell you here too: If you have advice about how to tweet BUY MY BOOK without being annoying and spammy and in a way that actually helps sales, by all means, please (I beg of you), submit a guest post to our blog 🙂

    Submission details are at http://www.novelpublicity.com/guest-post

  14. As someone who is new to twitter I am still trying to figure out what is appropriate. I don’t want to be obnoxious and yet at the same time I have a project up on Kickstarter that needs support. It’s definitly a balancing act.

  15. #FF and #WW are really great tools for hooking people up. But people don’t want to know only whom to follow, but why. That’s why the chains don’t work. If you feel the urge to make a #WW or #FF chain, just create a Twitter list and then link to the list. If we’re interested, we can browse the bios there and choose tweeps to follow.

  16. Excellent tip, Andy. Thank you 🙂 I need to write a post about lists one of these days. If you’d like to tackle the subject, you are hereby formally invited to guest post for the NP blog 🙂

  17. It’s definitely a balancing act, yes. Especially once you get involved in several social media sites. Welcome to the Twitter party, Bridget 🙂

  18. You’re welcome, Sharayah. You’re one of my favorite support-system tweeps. So glad to have you in my twittersphere 🙂

  19. Yes, absolutely! It’s okay to do the BUY MY BOOK thing *occasionally* especially with a new release. But keep it occasional, gosh darn it! I also post excerpts on my blog which my RSS sends out whenever there’s a new post and my @triberr tribe tweets those too.

    It’s always good if you can have someone else encouraging others to check out your book, and by being a sociable and awesome tweep, that’s much more likely to happen 😉

  20. Thanks for jumping in, CORWINATOR! I always value your opinions – you’re just awesome like that. And this list was developed with the help of my tweeps, so I’m not shouting in a vacuum here. No sirree 😛

  21. Hi, Katherine, and welcome to Twitter 🙂

    I know so people who do like to thank new followers–some by DM, some by @mention. I personally don’t find this necessary (but I have 4 accounts with the largest having 12,000 followers and the smallest having 4,000, so it would be incredibly time-consuming). If you do want to say “hi” to your new tweeps. Make it personal. Don’t just say “thanks for following me” or some other generic line. Say “hey @emlynchand I love your bio. Were you really born with a fountain pen in your hand?” That shows you’ve paid attention and are trying to make a genuine connection. Stringing @mentions together does not.

  22. Thanks, Valerie. Like you said, the rules are always changing. When I first started Twitter, I did the #ff chains. I also did auto-DMs back in the day, but I’ve reassessed what the rules are and changed my tweeting accordingly 🙂

  23. You’re absolutely right. Participation is key! It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason 😉

  24. Am I curious? Not at all. I sometimes get curious about a book I see on Facebook. Sometimes. I often get curious about a book I see on GoodReads. I never get curious about a book I see on Twitter. Maybe that’s just me, but seeing an image of the book cover really helps 🙂

  25. Yes, I try to ignore the annoying people and engage with the fun ones, but sometimes there are so many annoying people, you miss out on the ones you actually want to talk with! An example would be the DM spam drowning out any legitimate DM messages I might receive. I can’t use the feature at all any more 🙁

  26. Good to hear! I run TwitCleaner regularly to clean out spammy tweets. It just gets too hard as your following grows. Gotta time manage 😉

  27. I saw your post just as I was contemplating doing one or two things on your list of no-nos. Yikes! Great post. Thanks!

  28. That’s what we’re here for. We’re like the geeky hall monitor kids that everyone has to listen to 😉

  29. I’m only half guilty of #FF chains. I do put more than one name per Tweet, but I put more than the name, like “Helpful agents who Tweet you back @mention @mention @mention” “Authors whose books I’m liked @mention @mention @mention.” That way people know why I think that group of people is worth following. I may have to change that now to one though.

  30. I’m glad to hear that Who.Unfollowed.Me has a good side. I don’t use it, so I only ever see the tweets. I feel like these should be changed to something generic without @mentions like “I just found out which followers I lost using who.unfollowed.em” or something like that.

  31. Eliabeth, what you do still sounds okay. At least you’re providing some context for the tweep chain 🙂

  32. Wow! Thanks for stopping by, Si 🙂

    I’ve been a fan of Twit Cleaner for a very long time. This is actually my second time mentioning it in a blog post. I also gushed in the blog about 5 Twitter unfollow apps and why you need to use them.

    I’m thinking of starting a Twitter app spotlight on this blog, which will provide an overview of the app and an interview with its founder. Would you be interested in getting interviewed for this?

    I’d love to have you!

  33. To each her own, Marie. But Twitter isn’t just full of static status updates and announcements. We have lots of group discussions there. The real value of interaction lies in bringing the friends you make on Twitter to another (less character-restricted) platform: Google+, Facebook, email. I’ve made almost all my writer friends first through Twitter, and my business grew straight out of Twitter. It quite literally changed my life 🙂

  34. Thanks, Petra. I’m happy my advice is both informative and entertaining. Huzzah! (Yeah, I’m a big ol’ dork)

  35. I use who.unfollowed.me to find out people who unfollowed me who I followed back in the first place simply out of courtesy. That way I can find the people who just mass-follow others so they’ll get people following them back before unfollowing the person they followed. Man, that’s a mouthful. I don’t tweet my findings, though. I’m enough of a loser already without the extra help.

  36. Like Ann Elise, I find Who.Unfollowed.Me very helpful. You can track back and see if a particular post cost you followers and then ponder upon why. I would never check the box that tweets your unfollows though. It’s also helpful because Twitter will sometimes bump off a Follower on its own accord. That’s happened a couple of times and enabled me to contact that person. (I was fairly certain they still wanted to follow me, lol.)

    Automatic DM’s are my pet peeve. grrr

  37. Oh, and on the no Twiiter to Facebook point –

    I’m an administrator on a ballet foundation page, and was told my tweets were landing on that page. Mortifying, I tell you. And I immediately severed the Twitter – Facebook interface.

  38. I had someone dm me with who unfollowed, so I said of course I did, you never say anything but who followed/unfollowed you. That means you’re not going anywhere, so why would I follow you? Of course, had I read this first, I would not have insulted him. Thank you for this post by the way, I do appreciate being led to being a better marketer and a better writer.

  39. Be yourself. If your online persona is a sarcastic firecracker, be a sarcastic firecracker!

  40. I’m relatively new to Twitter so this information is useful and informative, thank you.

    I read through the article with a great deal of relief, thinking “I don’t do that…” thankfully.

    Thanks again.

  41. So many of these are huge bugbears with me. The ones I detest most are:

    1. This person unfollowed me and I know who you are. What is that? Some kind of threat? Naming and shaming? Are you so egomaniacal that you think that everyone cares that someone had the temerity to unfollow you? I think this is nothing short of bullying and mind-games. People may think it’s ok but it’s sinister in my books.

    2. I have x amount of followers and I want more, can you RT? No bugger off and just for your sheer desperation I’m going to unfollow. It’s not a popularity contest, these people aren’t your friends, you just want to boost your numbers.

    3. Get this trending/let’s RT – this person has this illness donate or you deserve to forever burn in hell. Ok maybe they don’t say quite that but it’s not far off. It’s another form of bullying. I don’t go on twitter to be harassed by people trying to make me feel awful because I can’t donate or for whatever reason, and trust me, sometimes I do feel bad because I’m a compassionate human being but then I remember, I have no money: I’m a poor student, who is living below the breadline, with my own health issues (albeit non-terminal). I just want to talk to my friends without the emotional blackmail.

    4. Slacktivism. Let’s get this person: e.g. Kony campaign. I detest the faux outrage that is prevalent on twitter and facebook. One day people are outraged, horrified, disgusted, demanding vengeance and the next day something else comes along and all those words melt away and they forget about it, but hey it made them feel like they were doing something – covering themselves in glory for 2 minutes and not bothering their backsides to get up and do anything about it. As long as they don’t have to move outside their door, it’s all good. The usual response is, “but we’re doing our bit and highlighting the issue”. Yes, for two seconds but the men in charge know that you’ll get bored because you have the keyboard equivalent of ADHD and it all gets buried among the million other campaigns out there. I have nothing but huge admiration for people who actually get off their backsides and do something or for people who, even online dedicate themselves to a cause, but anyone can write something just to salve their consciences.

    6. Followers who are just trying to plug something – I mean, it’s all they do, no engaging their audience. Detest it. Immediate unfollow. I hate that initial DM of someone you followed, introducing themselves and linking to their product – unless I have followed a charity.

    I know this makes me seem like a grumpy, uncaring person, but as I said I detest bullying, intimidation, emotional blackmail and sheer vanity.

  42. Great list here, Heather. These are things people need to know! If you’d like to expand ever so slightly and submit this rant as a guest post to our blog, we’d love to have it! 😀

  43. I really hate the validation as well – and I won’t follow someone that requires it.
    I used to cleaner and I’m good – yay! but have a ton of people with bad habits on my follow list. I did have my stuff going to facebook – but decided to take it off after reading your post. I don’t want to annoy followers. 🙂 Thanks for this brilliant list.

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