Some Thoughts on Why More People Aren't Following You on Twitter

Twitter birds

"Why don't more people follow me on Twitter?" They will. You just need to be patient and demonstrate your value. If that sounds strange, it shouldn't. You wouldn't watch a channel on your television that didn't show content you enjoyed, would you? You can think of Twitter in a similar way. We follow people who tweet content we find interesting or valuable in some way. That means you need to use Twitter in such a way that others will want to follow you because they find value in what you tweet.

What makes this difficult is that people use Twitter for different reasons and in different ways. Spend any time on Twitter and it will become clear to you that people are looking for different things from their Twitter experience. That means I can't speak for all of them. What I can do is tell you some of the most common reasons I choose not to follow somebody. Some of them are specific to me, but I expect others may generalize.

I won't follow you on Twitter if any of the following are true:

  1. You have not uploaded an avatar and your account is more than 24 hours old. This tells me that you are not serious enough about Twitter to be worth following.
  2. Your Twitter bio is blank. Without a bio, I have no idea why I should follow you because you haven't told me what to expect.
  3. Your bio is filled with political hashtags (e.g., #resist, #MAGA, #FBR, #Qanon), and a quick scan of your timeline reveals that most of your tweets are about politics. There's nothing wrong with this, but this is not why I'm using Twitter.
  4. You rarely tweet anything besides memes or YouTube videos. Again, I have little interest in this stuff and would prefer to see less of it.
  5. You regularly tweet links without any text describing what they are (often to Facebook). This is a basic Twitter no-no and suggests there is little point in following you.
  6. A large number of your tweets are in a language I don't speak. If I don't understand most of what you are tweeting, I have no reason to follow you.
  7. You live-tweet sporting events or TV shows. I think it is safe to say that almost nobody who isn't at the event or watching the show at the same time wants to see this.
  8. You are still using TrueTwit validation or a similar system that automatically sends direct messages to people who follow you. This has been frowned on by most Twitter users for several years, so it tells me that you have little idea what you are doing and will be annoying in other ways.
  9. You've misspelled "atheist" in your Twitter username, bio, or in another prominent part of your profile. This is common enough among trolls that it raises suspicion.
  10. You call people names on Twitter. This tells me that you are not the sort of person I am going to enjoy following.

I am willing to overlook some of this if I see someone tweeting content I am interested in, but I have become less tolerant of the name-calling. It is making things worse in some important ways. I get that it feels good to insult Trump supporters, Christians, or whoever else might dare to express disagreement with you; however, doing so is making things worse for all of us (e.g., contributing to unhealthy conflict, polarization, and tribalism). And while I have no desire to limit your ability to call others names on Twitter, I have little interest in being a part of it.

When it comes to Twitter, I'm interested in following reasonable, thoughtful people who are civil to others because they value freethought over petty tribalism. That is, I am interested in following the sort of people most of us who identify as atheists, freethinkers, and/or humanists keep claiming we wish there were more of.