How You Lost My Business on Twitter

How You Lost My Business on Twitter

Times are changing, more and more people are becoming socially savvy, and that includes your customers!

A couple of years ago there were a lot less people on twitter, and the etiquette was still forming. But that is no longer the case!

One of the joys of twitter is that your feed is designed by you, the tweets you read are from the people and businesses that you choose to follow.

So I understand that some tweeters want to remain selective in who they follow, and if you are on twitter just as you, and make no mention of your business whatsoever then that is absolutely, 100% fine!

BUT, if you have your business name anywhere on your twitter account or are using twitter in the hope of helping or promoting your business in any way, then you really need to learn and abide by twitter etiquette.

That is true whether you want to get sales directly from twitter, use it as a customer service channel, or use it to look for business partners or for research.

There is one sure-fire way to leave a bad impression – don’t bother to follow back!

It’s quite simply rude, and it makes you look arrogant. It says to your potential customer that you don’t judge them worthy of your attention. And make NO mistake about it – EVERYONE is a potential customer on twitter.

And don’t think people won’t know! There are tools out there that show you! Roughly every 3 months I use a tool called Tweepi to see who is not following me back. (Thankfully it also shows me who I am not following back so I can pick up on anyone that may have slipped through the net!)

There are some spammers out there so I am not saying that you have to follow every single person that follows you, but you should be following back the majority.

And yes, some people are following you first because they would love you to become their customer! I frequently do this! It’s not the only reason I have for choosing who to follow but it is 1 of my 3 criteria. Does that mean that I’m only there to sell? Hell No! I’ve bought from many people that I’ve met on twitter, and in fact prefer to buy from business on social media that I can get to know.

But not following back is happening far too much and is losing you business. Last time I used Tweepi I unfollowed over 400 accounts that weren’t following me back, of those almost half of them were active accounts, in Suffolk (where I live), who made it clear they had something to sell.

There are now products from local businesses that I won’t buy, beauty salons I won’t even consider entering and local restaurants I won’t eat in. (Although I was treated to a meal in one of these for my birthday which I went along with so as not to be churlish)

How You Lost My Business On Twitter, Twitterquette, Social Media Manners

Now maybe these business don’t want to follow me on twitter because I tweet too much, or they are not particularly interested in the kinds of things I tweet about (which is mainly how to use social media effectively for business!) But as I live in their locality, and am a middle-aged (God how I hated writing that!), middle class (wasn’t too keen on writing that either!), middle income, parent then it is quite likely that I am slap bang in the middle of their target market!

And as such I should be followed back. Following me back doesn’t mean you have to buy from me anymore than it means I have to buy from you if I follow you. But it does show you are prepared to listen to me, and if I am ever going to be your customer I want to feel like you care enough about your customers to listen to them.

Now I know that following tonnes of people can be a little overwhelming and sometimes it will feel like you can’t see the tweets from those you’ve built a relationship with on twitter already. But there are also ways around this – read this post on how to have a better twitter experience which will teach you how to use lists and you won’t lose your friends in the crowd.

So, give people the benefit of the doubt and maybe you can win back their trust and custom. After all, you can unfollow people if they really do fill up your stream with obnoxious junk! As long as you have made a conscious choice that you don’t ever want to sell to that particular individual, that’s just fine. But it’s far more likely that you’ll learn from them and be inspired by them as I am by all the tweeters I follow.

Oh! And that person that claims they are a social media expert because they have lots of followers but they don’t follow many back? They’re not a social media expert, they are a social media snob!

Over to you – are you offended when tweeters don’t follow you back?


  1. Jan Dalby

    Hi Gemma when I tried to subscribe to your RSS feed I got a page of HTML with “This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below” please help.
    thanks Jan

  2. Dave Ellis - YouTern

    Hi Gemma,

    It’s indeed interesting to watch social media norms forming in this relatively new medium.

    I agree with you that it seems not following people back is becoming more pervasive. That could be a product of the speed at which SM moves. It’s sometimes difficult to hop onto Twitter immediately every time someone follows you. I prefer to do it in batches.

    I understand the offense people might take to not being followed back. But I would find it kind of odd if they became offended if one didn’t follow them back right away. Social media speed is not always the same as life speed.

    1. Gemma Thompson

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks ever so much for sopping by and taking the time to comment! I have to say I personally don’t think people should follow me back instantly, and I frequently don’t manage to follow back that quickly either! When I do go through to see whose not following me back I only unfollow them if it has been around a month since I followed them, often if I’m not sure I’ll leave them on there till next time I do it – if they haven’t followed me back after 4 months then I take the hint! Sorry if I gave the wrong impression!

  3. Mark

    Good posting Gemma and very true! We’ll tolerate @DalaiLama or @LadyGaGa not following us back but everything you say about #Local Biz tweeps is true – tweepi is a great tool for tidying up and flushing, we use it regularly to ‘unfollow’ ‘unfollowers’ and being able to see inactive accounts is also a great feature. You are right about making lists – it’s been the only way we’ve been able to manage our time on twitter effectively. Pay attention everyone – Gemma is steering you the right way to get the best from your account! x

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