Twitter Reciprocal Follow Nonsense

This whole “I follow you, you follow me” mentality on Twitter has bothered me for a while. Basically, it goes like this: if someone follows you on Twitter, it’s “rude” not to follow them back. This is nonsense. Why? Here are a few reasons:

  • Interest Factor – You should follow someone on Twitter because you’re interested in what they have to say. People should follow you on Twitter because they’re interested in what you have to say. Period.
  • Spam Factor – A lot of your new followers are probably spammers just waiting for you to take the bait and follow them back. Then they’ll fill up your DM box with teeth whitening offers and phishing links.
  • Fake Ego Boost – If one of your followers is also following 50,000 other people, chances are they aren’t paying attention to anything you say. They might use a program like TweetDeck to filter a small list of tweets they actually do want to see. Who cares if someone follows you if they don’t even read what you have to say?

If someone doesn’t follow you back, don’t take it personally, it’s no big deal. Maybe they don’t check who their latest followers are, maybe you haven’t interacted with them before, maybe they’ve noticed you but your tweets just aren’t that interesting to them. Hopefully people you don’t follow back won’t take it personally either.

If you want to interact with someone, using @replies should suffice. Even if I don’t follow someone, I try to make a solid effort to respond to everyone who replies to me. Obviously this can be difficult if you get a ton of replies, but you can at least try make an effort. This is a much better way to stay “connected” than the superficiality of a straight follow.

Ever heard of Dunbar’s number?

Join the Conversation


  1. If you want a reciprocated form of contact go to Facebook. The beauty about Twitter is that I can follow you even though you might find me the most boring person.

  2. I agree with this completely, I try to limit the amount of people that follow me and that I follow for several reasons, if they are following me and i like what I see I’ll follow back, if I don’t however, I’ll not follow back and simply block them from following me.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Although I don’t get why would you would want to block someone from following you?

      Not really sure how effective that would be anyway unless you have a private profile with protected updates.

      1. I guess I’m just fussy about who is seen following me, my Twitter account isn’t just for updates to my sites, it’s also used for personal updates

        1. But they’re only blocked when logged in. Or when using a third-party Twitter client. If you care about who can see that personal content… maybe it shouldn’t be out there publicly at all.

  3. I have heard of Duncan’s number and I disagree with the proposed value of 150.. I think it just depends on how well your internal world is organized.. or something like that.

    Following back just because someone else started following you is just lame.. I guess this goes in the same corner as using Twitter only to broadcast..

    1. Yeah I mean, I don’t think Dunbar’s number is really that applicable to how many people you follow on Twitter, especially such a specific number like 150.

      Why I mentioned it was because I do believe there is a limit on how many people you can realistically follow and keep up with on Twitter, depending on how much time you spend on it and how frequent updates are.

  4. You misunderstand me franky, I’m not bothered that they can see what I write, what I am bothered about is that they can be seen to be following me, I don’t need or want hundreds of people following me that have nothing to do with what I’m about.
    A couple of examples, I once mentioned the name of a famous psychologist for one reson or another, now I have no interest in the subject whatsoever and only ever mentioned it once, but wound up with no less than 10 psychologsists and pshychology students.
    and again a week or so ago I mentioned photogragphy with the same effect.
    If they would have taken the time to look through previous tweets they would have realised that I have no serious interest in either subject.

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