Please read the unfollowing carefully…

4 Jul

I suspect that a lot of you reading this will think it’s a load of Ed Balls. I hope that it will resonate with some of you, at least.

As a full-time resident of twitter I am naturally fascinated with its workings and how other people do their twitter, because we all do it our own way. I’ve noticed there is one area which always evokes a variety of responses, and that’s being unfollowed. And talking about being unfollowed – which I do occasionally – is almost a taboo.

I’ll level with you here. I am interested in getting more followers. There. I’ve said it. Yes, I do want RTs. I confess: I do want people to like me. That makes me a terrible person, doesn’t it? Well, no, I don’t think it does. You see, I make art for a living. I’m a creative person and like almost every creative person I can think of I want an audience. Twitter is part of what I do, so of course I want to reach a wider audience, I don’t think there’s anything odd about that. I want as many people as possible to read and enjoy my tweets.

Of course sometimes people don’t like what I do and I’m absolutely fine with that. Most of the time as an artist you’re unaware of people not liking what you do because they don’t come up to you and say “You’re crap so I’m not going to look at your work any more”. Ha ha. Does that sound familiar? Of course; on twitter occasionally somebody will say just that to you. It hurts a bit, I’m a human being for God’s sake. But I can take it. The little coils of poison I feel in my stomach on such occasions are not personal, though, it’s just that feeling you get when you realise you’ve met a really unpleasant person.

On the whole people quietly unfollow me, and that really is just fine. Occasionally I will lose hundreds of followers over a week or so and that will definitely give me pause for thought. And I will sometimes comment on this puzzling departure en masse, although I kick myself later for it. Because, if I do comment on being unfollowed, the responses I get are along the lines of “Oh, if I lost that many followers I would be in negative numbers *sad face* . I usually point out that it took me 18 months to get to 100 followers. Or ”It’s their loss, we still like you!” which is a bit like being told to be brave when you stub your toe. It’s still your pain and while I appreciate the sympathy, I find it frustrating that I can’t talk about it objectively – and that’s the key point – without people thinking that I’m fishing for compliments or being rather self-pitying.

At the time of writing I’ve got about 30,000 followers. It seems amazing to me. The number is irrelevant really, because I probably interact with no more than 100 of those from week to week. This is what’s important to me. I was frustrated when I only had 50 followers and I hoped more people would see my tweets. I can remember being ecstatic when I reached 400. At that point twitter became properly interactive and really good fun and I fell in love with it.

So, if I talk occasionally about being unfollowed, please don’t worry about me I’ll be just fine. I’m just curious, that’s all.


As a footnote I would like to say that occasionally I get followed by somebody I admire. I never thank people for following me. I have done in the past, but it tends to be a bit embarrassing when a week later you realise they’ve unfollowed you again. On the other hand a year later you get a tweet from them and you realise they’ve been there all the time, and that’s a nice surprise.

Finally, I do unfollow people occasionally. Usually it’s people I don’t interact with and it’s because I have found them dull or too moany. Sometimes I unfollow people I like because they’ve said something too offensive. I’ve ended up following far too many people to read my timeline any more. Sometimes I will flick through looking for the people I like if I have time. Most of my interaction happens in my replies, which I can barely keep up with anyway. So please don’t be offended if I don’t follow you or have unfollowed you. At least you know why.

A further footnote based on some comments on twitter. Apparently there is an ‘unfollowing bug‘ which accounts for some loss of followers. Also twitter clears out spambots occasionally. However the truth is I tend to lose swathes of followers just after I’ve gained swathes of followers (usually following an #ff from someone with lots of clout). I’m fairly sure these are people thinking “What the hell was that person with lots of clout talking about this? This chump’s rubbish and obsessed with ducks! I HATE DUCKZ LOL!”. Something like that.



12 Responses to “Please read the unfollowing carefully…”

  1. Sara July 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Please help me with a question I’ve been trying to find the answer to. I saw you complain about bakery related puns – but why are you getting them? Where is the bakery connection?

    • mooseallain July 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

      It was just me being silly. I made a pun about something, can’t even remember what, bread related anyway, and it triggered as is often the case a string of replies, all more or less making the same joke. Everyone means well, but sometimes having the same joke tweeted at you 30 times can be exasperating, so I got a bit grumpy and asked people to stop. People being people, they sent me more – as I should have predicted. I am a twit.

  2. Jeffw/@Jeffwni July 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Thanks Moose, that was very interesting.
    It is always nice when you realise that you’re not alone, that others think and feel the same way. In this case, the more followers bit, and the sharing what I do, and the unfollowing, AND my general behaviour on Twitter, and basically everything else.

    For me the real kick began around 250 followers, when the interaction became really good fun and when I realised that not ALL of my tweets went unnoticed.

    I don’t always get the “Twitter taboos” right. That might be my French side, lack of personal restrain and prone to ‘faux-pas’.
    I like to talk about follower or followees (is it gossiping? Probably…) and I’d love to understand the mechanics of the all thing better. It is just fascinating, exhilarating!
    I’m still at a stage were I crave for a bit more followers myself, as I’m still convince of the exponential nature of Twitter.
    I’m also at a stage where, even if it hurts a bit, I laugh at my unfollowing spells. They generally occur by packs of tens and when I think I’m “at the top of my game*”. It’s a good way to keep my feet down to Earth. It often happens when I’m not far of a milestone of sorts, which is so frustrating that I have to heartily laugh about it, even if a bit ironically.

    I’m honoured to be followed by extraordinary people. ‘La crème de la crème’ of Twitter, or at least an enormous part of its UK branch. I can’t explain it but it really does something inside. Pride maybe, but in a nice glowing, warming way.
    When, like what you mentioned, you are unfollowed by someone you admire, it is an different pain all together. It is weird and hard to describe. It happened to me not long ago.
    What really ‘kills’ me, is the incertitude: did he/she even noticed it was me they unfollowed?… and it just shows me how selfish I can be, so I move on.

    I love all the people I follow too, which is why I follow them. They interest me in so many different way! I crave for more of them too, even if the Time-Line becomes trickier to follow.
    Isn’t it what Twitter is all about?

    Once again thank you Moose, for this, and the rest. 🙂

    *which doesn’t say much

    • mooseallain July 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

      I agree with everything you say. It can be painful sometimes. I long ago stopped checking if people were following me – I actively avoid it now when I’m looking at the profile of someone I admire who follows me. It’s much healthier and more enjoyable that way. Just keep doing what you’re doing, I’m sure you’ll grow your audience.

      • Jeffw/@Jeffwni July 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

        Amen to that brother! ‘Healthier’ Twitter habits are quite hard to achieve but I think it’s the way forward to really enjoy the experience.
        I like to think that I share a kind of Twitter etiquette with my followers/followees, we all seem to be somehow of the same mind about a lot of Twitter “things”. It feels this way anyway, and it seems to be as good a mean of selection as any.

        Keep up the excellent work.

        And thanks for the kind word of encouragement.

      • Jeffw/@Jeffwni August 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

        It’s getting better by the way, thank you!

        But how can you not notice on someone’s profile that they have stopped following you? There are so obvious the dreadfully missing words “Follows You”.

        I’ve had a bad spell of high profile tweeters unfollowing me of late; some who were following me for a long time… So much so that I got scared to interact normally with my followers/followees by fear of finding out that them too left me.

        The turmoil of mix feeling is still puzzling, but I’m getting better at coping with it.
        Thanks once again for the inspiring words.
        Keep up the astounding work.

  3. Quinn (@moodysimon) July 4, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    “The little coils of poison I feel in my stomach on such occasions are not personal, though, it’s just that feeling you get when you realise you’ve met a really unpleasant person.”

    This made me laugh. As a fellow twitter user though, I don’t really understand the point of following more people than you can keep up with. I follow about 400 people and although I don’t have 30,000 followers I can at least enjoy my timeline, which I thought was the whole idea behind twitter in the first place. My timeline is full of funny, informative, interesting and sometimes silly people – if I were to remove that aspect of twitter it would be a great loss. Why not scale back to a manageable amount of follows so that you can start to enjoy that side of things again?

    “Sometimes I will flick through looking for the people I like if I have time.”

    Why not only follow people that you like?

    • mooseallain July 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

      Various reasons really. I can’t control the number of people who reply to me, so I try to deal with as many as I can. I just about manage to read them all, but not reply. So that’s my main interaction. I follow lots of really interesting people and I’m always interested in finding new ones. Occasionally I do find time to read my timeline. In the past I have tried to cut down on numbers I follow and EACH TIME people have tweeted me asking why, asking for me to follow again. It’s just not worth it. I find it easier just to ignore the people I find less interesting. Everybody does twitter differently. I don’t really use it as a ‘social’ network any more, i.e. to chat to friends, although I have made good friends through it who are now real life friends.

      I hope that answers your question.

      • Quinn (@moodysimon) July 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

        Yeah I guess. I think you’re right. I tend not to follow people unless we’ve either had a couple of interactions or I admire you/your work, so I guess that cuts down on that. Personally, I wait and follow somebody once I’m certain I want them on my timeline rather than follow them on a whim and have to unfollow a few days later… I guess because of exactly that feeling people get when someone unfollows them! But as you pointed out, we all use twitter differently and it adapts to each of our wants, which is part of what makes it so great!

  4. Rosie July 4, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    I understand what you mean about the nasty, unkind unfollowers, but I truly don’t understand why anyone would care a jot about the everyday unfollowers. I am never aware of my my followers or unfollowers, as I use my phone for Twitter and the homepage has to actually be “selected”. Sometimes I follow someone and then find, a few days later, that are are not what I expected so I just unfollow. I never say a word, but you can bet your sweet bippy that they notice and begin the “Oh, why have you unfollowed me ?” Routine. It is embarrassing and pathetic. I have even suffered abuse because I unfollowed someone…… And been persued in the “comments” section of my blog. Surely that kind of behaviour is unnecessary ?

    • mooseallain July 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

      I think that you/we just have to accept that people are all different. Some people are sensitive to such things. I tried (maybe I failed) to convey with my blog that I am curious about it, any personal pain I feel is fleeting. But surely if you find you’ve been unfollowed by someone you really like it’s understandable that you might be a bit hurt? I agree about being asked why you unfollowed someone. It can only put you in the position of a sort of “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of excuse.

  5. Amanda Cox July 7, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    It doesn’t bother me that much. Playground behaviour fuelled by alcohol mostly. I tend to read tweets that have been clearly written under the influence. Or rather.. not clearly..

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