How I Decide Whether to Follow You on Instagram or Twitter
As I ramp up my activity on Instagram for business, I’ve had some good reminders about what makes someone worthy of following on social media. In addition to providing relevant content I want to get, here are additional reasons why I’ll follow you—or not!—especially on Instagram and Twitter.
Your Instagram or Twitter Bio
Though often it’s obvious what people do and what’s important to them from the pictures and messages they post, sometimes it’s not always clear. So don’t make me guess!
I don’t follow people who don’t have even the most rudimentary bio details on their account. Those basic details would include what you do for a living and your website. A few personal details (that you don’t mind sharing publicly) about hobbies or interests help humanize you and make you more interesting to follow.
Also, if a bio includes something such as, “Message me for details on how to get thousands of followers.” Or, “Visit my website to learn how to earn,” I am NOT following you. Hard sell is no sell for me.
I rarely follow “private” accounts on Instagram or Twitter. It usually tells me they’re probably posting a lot of personal or family stuff—maybe even inappropriate material—that won’t interest me. I respect their right to privacy and move on to following those who are there to do business or want to honorably connect with the larger world.
Why I Don't Follow "Checkerboards" on Instagram
If you've spent any time on Instagram, you've seen user profiles that look like checkerboards. In other words, if you look at their galleries of posts on their profiles, it looks like a perfect checkerboard with artful quote graphics strategically interspersed with usually staged and perfect photos of themselves or their surroundings.
Some are even worse by trying to create a profile where each post is a puzzle piece of a grid that ultimately creates a big picture on their profiles.
I don't follow checkerboards. Why does this bother me so much?
Not Authentic. These users are thinking so hard about their Insta-image that they will only post in a manner that makes their profile look perfect. That says a lot about the person. Too concerned with image. Too concerned with being perfect. You have to wonder if there's even a real person behind the perfection.
They Probably Don't Care About Their Followers. I think this is more the case for the "big picture" folks who post pieces of the picture puzzle. Each of those puzzle piece posts is unrecognizable on its own. Is that a valuable post for followers? Absolutely not. Plus, they usually don't have any caption for each of the puzzle piece posts. So there's no context or conversation either.
The Perfection Gets Messed Up. If a follower wants to look at the posts on the profile in sequential form, instead of the grid, the perfection gets messed up. Each post will be seen one by one. This is especially problematic for the "big picture puzzle piece" people.
Direct Messages and Private Messages
I always like the guys (often it’s guys) who instantly want to direct message (DM) or private message (PM) me, or invite me to a personal chat with them. They usually don’t say why they want to connect, indicating a waste of time and a possible spammer, scammer, or stalker. So I’m not following them, I’m not accepting their message or connection requests, and I might even block them.
Even if you’re really and honorably interested in connecting with someone you discover on social media, don’t resort to creepy behaviors. A DM/PM too early in the connection process is like asking for a marriage proposal on a first date. Trust is fragile and hard won. Become someone worthy of being followed so that users can get to know you over time.
Mentions and Tagging
Mentioning, or “tagging,” someone’s username in a post on social media, particularly on Twitter or Instagram, can be an invitation to begin a conversation or to give recognition to another user. However, there’s an etiquette for doing so.
In social networking, overusing or inappropriately using mentions and tagging can be considered offensive and aggressive. Users who feel threatened by tags will likely unfollow or even block you. Most of the social networks have privacy features that allow users to prohibit or remove tags that were posted without their consent. Users can also report unwelcome tagging to the social network which could damage your reputation and may even get you banned for violating any tagging policies. So use tags with extreme caution!
I have notifications set up so that I’m notified when someone mentions or tags me. If I am randomly or inappropriately tagged or mentioned, I remove the tag and unfollow, block, or report the user as necessary. So watch how you play “tag” with me.
Following are some examples of tagging that can help engage other users on Instagram and Twitter. Note: In these examples, “username” means the user’s name that he or she uses on a particular network. On most networks, typing in the “@“ symbol and entering the user’s name will drop in an active link to the user’s profile to create the tag.
As a side note, if you tag famous celebrities, don’t expect to engage them. They have hordes of followers tagging them and ignore most. They just don’t have time for it, and your connection is probably not valuable to them.
(Comment example) “@username I totally agree about your point on [fill in topic here] because [tell the user why you agree].”
(Comment example) “@username I really enjoyed your video on [fill in topic here] because [tell the user why you liked it]. Thanks for sharing!”
You tag @username in a caption for a photo of an event you both attended and at which you made a mutually beneficial connection. If the photo includes the user, getting permission to post the photo and the tag is recommended.
In a comment, you tag @username and invite him or her to join the comment thread, e.g., “@username Do you have anything to add about this?” Or, “@username I think you’ll appreciate this.” This only works if you have already established some connection with the person. Otherwise, it's random, spammy tagging.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2018 Heidi Thorne