5 Popular Twitter Habits That Make You Look Like a Spammer

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Twitter is an amazing networking tool, and an impressive source of traffic if used correctly. There are hundreds of ways to build your influence on Twitter, find new friends and business contacts, and contribute positively to the social world.

It’s also incredibly easy to look like a spammer.

I’ve compiled a list here of all of the “conventional wisdom” that “social media gurus” and “marketing experts” have offered that drench your Twitter account in the stink of spam.

Direct Message Autoresponders

If I follow you, it’s not because I’m hoping you’ll send me your free eBook. The generic “Hey, thanks for following!” DM is a good idea, but it completely loses its authenticity when it’s automated.

Automation is the first sign that you’re doing social media wrong, and direct message autoresponders are the premier offenders. If you must send a new follower a direct message, do so after a short period of time, and personalize it to the follower. Remember, social media is about being a person, not a marketing machine.

Auto Follow-Back

I know you want more followers. We all do. But blindly following everyone that follows you isn’t the way to get good ones. It seems like every other social media tool allows you to auto-follow everyone that follows you, but this does little more than open you up to phishing scams, spam followers, and an unmanageable Twitter feed.

If I’m looking for some new SEO tweeps to follow and your follower to following ratio is 1:1 or close to it, I’m probably not going to follow you.

Hashtag Abuse

There are legitimate uses for hashtags, but adding multiple generic tags to the end of your tweet is not one of them. Hashtags are a way of organizing tweets around a single topic. The best example of this is a chat, like #seochat, #socialchat, #smochat and so on. These are coordinated, curated chats that happen on a predictable basis. Hashtags make it easy to converse and keep track of all the contributions to the chat.

On the flipside, you’ve got tweets that look like this:

GREAT READ! >>> bit.ly/)N*(Y^@78 #seo #social #searchengineoptimization #laseo #nyseo #search

If your tweets look like this, I’m unfollowing you. I can guarantee that nobody in those industries are actively monitoring those hashtags. At best, you get more follower-hungry tweeps that follow you just so you’ll follow back. At worst, you lose legitimate followers

Tweeting Inspirational Quotes

If your feed is purely composed of “inspirational” quotes, I’m unfollowing you.

Inspirational quotes are stomachable in moderation, but if that’s all your feed is, you look like a spammer. This is a common feature for “filler” tweets, especially in social media posting services (a la Buffer), which has undoubtedly contributed to the quotespam proliferation. Again, a sin of automation.

Bulk Tweets

If you drop a 10-tweet bomb on me, it doesn’t increase the likelihood that I’ll notice you and click one of your links. It increases the likelihood that I completely ignore your tweets or unfollow you.

I don’t even know where this comes from. I can understand an unusually high concentration of tweets in the morning when you’re reading your bloglist, but 5+ tweets at exactly the same time? Someone enlighten me, because this is one of the most irritating Twitter habits I’ve ever seen.

If you are committing any of these heinous sins, fear not; the time for repentance is not past. Are there any other popular habits you can think of that make people look like spammers? Talk to me in the comments.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

Mitch Monsen

Mitch Monsen

Mitch Monsen is an entrepreneur with a passion for creating web content. He works as an SEO consultant at WhiteFireSEO, where he also blogs about SEO and social media marketing. You can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his RSS feed.
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  • http://www.ethicalseoconsulting.com Shannon

    Ugh, I totally agree on hashtag abuse. Leave maybe 2, 3 tops but don’t over do it. Just makes me want to rip my hair out.

    • http://www.whitefireseo.com/ Mitch Monsen

      No kidding. Several hashtags on multiple tweets just screams “I NEED ATTENTION!”

      I then promptly pay them no attention.

  • http://www.basiccomputerinformation.ca/ S. Emerson

    Another thing with the auto follow back – Just like offline, who you hang out with says something about you. With auto follow back you can end up with a few (or a bunch of) people in your Who I Follow list you wouldn’t have followed if you had done this manually.

    • http://www.whitefireseo.com/ Mitch Monsen

      Indeed. And, doing the mass follow/unfollow/followback routine just makes you more attractive to the kind of marketers that buy email lists. If that’s who you are, by all means, go for it. It doesn’t mean I’m going to follow you, though.

      (Not you specifically, Mr/Mrs Emerson. You seem like a nice chap/madam. 😉 )

  • Anthony Pensabene

    Haha ‘tweet’ bombs.. from a rep standpoint, it also makes me feel you don’t mind you inundate my screen.. additionally, it makes me think you use your Twitter account as some sort of marketing chore.. “Oh snippy, forgot to tweet today.. doo de doo.. I’ll just get em all in now..”

    All points great observations, Mitch

    • http://www.whitefireseo.com/ Mitch Monsen

      Indeed. Not to mention the myriad tools available to, yknow, distribute your tweets FOR YOU at appropriate intervals.

      I just don’t get it.

  • http://jonloomer.com Jon Loomer

    Absolutely. The 1:1 follow/follower ratio isn’t quite as important to me as the sheer volume of people someone follows. If you follow 500 and have 500 followers, I may still follow you. If you have 3,000/3,000 or 50,000/50,000, you can forget about it. I know I’m just a number to you.

    Thanks for writing this. Glad I’m not the only one.

    • http://www.whitefireseo.com/ Mitch Monsen

      Great minds, Jon. 😉

      And, true, if someone’s willing to talk with me one-on-one, I don’t really care if they have several thousand followers or a 1:1 ratio. But if you’re just tweeting from an RSS feed, it ain’t workin’, sweet cheeks. It’s not me, it’s you.

  • http://stokedseo.co.uk Gaz Copeland

    Agree x 5.

    If the first thing I get after following you is an automated DM I’m already turned off. You better hope and pray your next few tweets are good stuff and I forget about the initial indiscretion.

    • http://www.whitefireseo.com/ Mitch Monsen

      You said exactly what I was thinking, Gaz. 🙂

      The insta-DM is effective, in that it gets me to look at your profile. The downside is that I’m mostly looking for the “unfollow” button.

  • http://konccepts.com Som

    Ya, you are completely right . I have observed some people tweeting about inspirational quotes whole day long . Some use too excess has tag . It seems they act like bots .However , there are also some people who will never follow you .They just know to follow a person temporarily for a day or two days and after that , they just simply unfollow people. However , good post

  • http://www.insurancesalesleads.com/ James

    I totally agree to all those mentioned. I particularly get annoyed when all I see is someone’s tweets, and I have to go all the way down to find someone else’s tweet.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/andrew_longman Andrew

    Disagree. There is context in which these guidelines make sense, but consider a restaurant auto-following and auto-DMing their followers. 1. If I choose to follow that restaurant, I would consider the “follow back” an easy way for the restaurant to communicate thanks for my support. 2. If I like a restaurant enough to follow it on twitter, I would probably have no problem Likeing them on facebook, if they sent me the link immediately after I follow, they have just lowered the barrier for me to like their page. I think its smart marketing. If you are closely monitoring who you follow, and presumably only following people whose tweets you would enjoy reading, why would you be so turned off by them following you back or receiving a message that they didn’t take 40 seconds to send you personally?

    • http://www.searchcommander.com Scott

      I agree, in a case of a business like a restaurant, an autoresponder DM offering links to coupons or to more engagement, etc. makes perfect sense. However, I think the author was talking about Twitter accounts used by “people”

  • http://www.rummynation.com Denny

    Hash tags and tweet bombing are two main factors that would irritate people,who are your followers, so should be careful with both of them. I am more particular about them when i promote things in twitter.

  • http://www.searchcommander.com Scott

    #greatread #welldone #invalueableseotips #dontdothis #gladsomeonewrotethis #payattention #youlooklikeanidiot #googlecantelltoo


  • Teresa Cuervo

    There are four other habits that I see on a twitter stream that drive me crazy.and also tell me NEVER to follow someone like that.1. When I see a stream of only RT’s it tells you that there is no participation or contribution at all from that person. 2.When all you see on a stream is talk , talk, talk .. Such as Thanks @so-so.@suchandsunch ,@what is your name.3. Over linking. When all you tweet are links you can tell you have the tweet button on speed- dial. An finally, those that I find “protecting “their tweets. Really? Is what you have to say is so secretive then there is one solution, don’t join is that simple.

  • http://zuhah.com James L

    I consider following back (not auto-follow) as a matter of courtesy.

  • Valerie

    Great blog post – very interesting.
    I completely agree with the auto-follow – that it (almost) completely negates sincerity. Sincerity being something that is high on the social media list today.

  • http://www.seocontentwriters.com Isabel

    I just hate twitter spamming. I hate when I get auto tweets with crap links all over them.

  • Jason

    Using tweets as a purely “broadcast” mechanism (i.e. unmonitored accounts). If there’s nobody at the other end, then this is useless as far as the “social” aspect goes.

  • KME

    I agree with some, but not everything in this post.

    As someone wisely pointed out, if you are a business and auto-follow to boost engagement, I don’t have an issue with it. I know I personally follow back those people who follow my business, and also follow those who retweet my posts. Both of those are done to say “Thanks”. My understanding is that this is considered good etiquette. (Frankly I look at accounts who follow few people but have tons of followers as narcissistic and those accounts often ARE on auto-pilot!) My ratio is around that 1:1 you mention. I also get a lot of business by following back people who follow me because I can see what they are tweeting about and using smart inboxes with social media tools I can respond to questions, etc. that pop up which often generates new business for me.

    I also do remove people who I follow who don’t follow back. It goes back to the common courtesy thing. In the real world if I introduced myself and instead of introducing yourself you turned your back to me and ignored me that would be rude. It’s no different on Twitter. I know I don’t want to work with rude people, so I simply remove those folks (unless they are highly influential or a thought leader) from my list of people I follow. The bottom-line — treat people on Twitter the way you would treat people in the real-world. Apply the golden rule. And provide two-way communication. (FYI — That’s not possible unless there is a 1:1 ratio!)

    Also, social is supposed to be about sharing. I don’t rule out a Twitter account simply because they are sharing a lot of links. If they tweet about valuable topics that their followers like and the followers appear to be retweeting then I deem that this account has a lot of influence over their followers. I would, however, not take an account seriously if that user only tweeted links from one or two websites, such as those who broadcast things like “Great, cheap #insurance for #autos. Link here” which always link back to a website with ironically the same domain name as that account.

    I also tweet A LOT during the day. I have a lot of followers and am on social media all day. (I do this for a living!) I probably do “tweet bomb” as you say, but when you have a lot of followers, and bump into a lot of good stuff, you’ll also see a steady flow of tweets. As a courtesy to my followers I also go through and “favorite” the best tweets so that they don’t have to go through my whole stream to find the best resources and articles. I additionally use resources like Pinterest to further organize helpful articles, infographics, ebooks, tutorials etc. so that those folks who do follow me don’t have to be stuck reading “tweet bombs”. They can be confident knowing that I’m tweeting good information and can also be assured that I’m thinking about how easy I can make that information available to them. But this concept of a tweet-bomb is still silly. The half-life of the average tweet is less than a minute. So move on — your stream is always changing! 🙂

    Sure, there are some folks out there who do abuse Twitter, but there’s always an exception to every rule.

  • H

    I don’t know about these being spammy, but a couple things I can’t stand is when I’m following an account that posts funny tweets all the time and once or twice a day, they say a celebrity looks “HOT” when they do “this” and link to wherever. Or just about everything they link to is another top 10 post from ChaCha.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com Julie Dawn Harris

    Hi Mitch!

    Thanks for the tips here. Just wanna quote what you have said here, “social media is about being a person, not a marketing machine”. I think this is what b2b marketers must instill in their minds. Social media sites members are very wise enough to whom they should interact with.

    Julie 🙂