3 Unprofessional Things NOT to Do on Twitter (and what to do instead!)

While I’m not the kind of person who pays a service to tell me how many folks “unfollowed” me, I do notice the ebb and flow of Twitter followers. I think everyone who has a Twitter account for their business does. I’ve also recently started to really take notice of why I, personally, follow or unfollow certain Twitter profiles.clickunfollow

Over the past year of thinking and noticing, I’ve seen patterns – patterns that highlight a few of the ways people marketing their businesses can be unprofessional on the platform, both as tweeters and followers. Based on those patterns, I’ve put together the following list of 3 unprofessional things NOT to do if you’re trying to market your business on Twitter.


  • As soon as someone follows you, spam them with a direct message selling your product.

This is one sure way to get me to rethink following someone on Twitter. Sure, we all want to sell our products or services. Sure we all want to make money. But really? No “Hi there, nice to meet you.”

It’s like walking up to someone at a party you’ve invited them to and shoving a marketing brochure into their hand before they even take their coat off. It’s unprofessional.

What to do instead:

When someone follows you, you can easily check out that person’s tweets. What are they saying? Have they posted any questions recently that have gone unanswered? And no, writing a direct message like “Hi, I see you like cats! I sell cat stuff! Buy my cat stuff!” doesn’t count.

When someone follows you and you see that they are posting questions related to your expertise, now you can engage the follower in a way that isn’t slimy. Use your knowledge to respond to them and help them. They’ll remember you. That’s professional.


  • Follow someone, and then unfollow them if they don’t follow you back within a day or two. Or unfollow them as soon as they follow you back.

Here’s a hint: people can tell.

I like to see who’s recently followed me. Often, I add them to one of the topic lists I’ve created (writers, social media, travel, publishers, etc.). But, sometimes, even though I added them to a list, I don’t click the “Follow” button for their profile. A few days later, when I’m taking a look at my newest followers, I see that some of the most recent people who followed me — ones I did not follow back — have now unfollowed me.

I can hear their digital “Harrumph!” as they leave. But guess what… I don’t need that type of follower. It’s also disconcerting when I do follow people back, only to have them unfollow me as soon as I do. These are likely to be the folks whose profiles show they have thousands of followers, but they barely follow anyone. It’s rather obvious what they’re doing. It’s unprofessional.

What to do instead:

Instead of following someone just to get a follow-back, create original content that will draw followers to you. When you see someone post an interesting tweet, look at their profile. What other things do they tweet about? Are you interested in everything they have to say, or was that the only time they ever tweeted about something that interested you?

It’s not the number of followers, but the quality of your interaction with the ones you have. Be interesting. Be engaging. That will bring you real followers. Follow those you think post engaging or interesting content. That’s professional.


  • Post twenty tweets or retweets in a row over a short time-span.

I follow a lot of people. I want to see tweets by many of them when I get on Twitter, not to see only your thirty recent tweets and retweets. With scheduling services such as Buffer, Hootsuite, and TweetDeck, there’s really no excuse for not spreading your tweets out over the course of a day.

On the other hand, just because you’re using a scheduler doesn’t mean you should schedule tweets to be posted every. single. minute. Especially because it will be painfully obvious that those tweets consist of zero original content by you. That’s unprofessional.

What to do instead:

Create your own original content on your website or blog, and then tweet a link to it. Tweet a link to it a few times per day in order to reach different readers, altering your text slightly every time, but keeping it related to the original content in the link. Use relevant hashtags to make sure folks who are interested in the topic will be able to easily find your content.

If you are retweeting someone else’s content, use the “quote tweet” function and add to the conversation, or highlight what you found most interesting about the content. Let us know there’s a real person behind your tweets and retweets. That’s professional.

Bernadette Geyer helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives expand their reach through clear, concise, and compelling copy in English, so that they can attract more customers with consistent and memorable marketing content. Her “Rule Your Digital Domain” service helps businesses make sure their website and social media profiles are working to attract more customers. You can see her full list of services here.