The real reasons why people stop following you on Twitter

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It's awful isn't it – when someone stops following us on Twitter! We feel rejected, hurt, lost and wonder where it all went so wrong.

We question what we did to offend or upset these people, and we worry that we've done something to push them away.

Now, wait a minute! Hold it right there! We're talking about a social network here. Twitter is a micro-blogging site that has millions of people tweeting in real-time. It's not real life. The connections you make on Twitter aren't necessarily genuine friends.

Yes, there'll be the odd person you might meet face-to-face. But, for the most part, Twitter is shallow. If someone 'unfollows' you, it's nothing personal. But if you still want to know why people stop following you, then here are a few explanations why.

You're tweeting too much

Tweeting is addictive and great fun, so it's no surprise that some of us – including myself – tweet too often. If you want to keep all of your followers happy, don't abuse Twitter by tweeting every minute of every day. Remember, many people only follow less than 100 people, so imagine how many times you appear in their feeds if you're tweeting 100 times per hour? Try and limit your tweets to avoid cluttering up people's feeds.

You're not tweeting enough

If you've set up a Twitter account and not tweeted much, then it's very likely people will stop following you. Because what's the point in following someone if they've not got anything to say? Tweet, get chatting to others and embrace everything this network has to offer. Besides, having no tweets will lead people to distrust you and think that you could be spam.

You've not yet added a profile picture

While we're on the subject of trust, if you don't have a profile picture, then people won't trust you or your Twitter account. If you want people to continue following you – get a beautiful, happy photo of yourself for your avatar. It puts a real face behind your name and helps people to identify with you. One extra tip – make sure the photograph includes you looking directly at the camera lens, and smiling.

You're not what people expected

Someone might've started to follow you expecting something entirely different to what you've been tweeting. It's nothing personal. Your tweets are not what they were expecting, and they've unfollowed to keep their feed full of relevant things they want to see.

You're not relevant

Twitter's original slogan reads 'Follow Your Interests'. That's the whole point of Twitter – following people with similar interests. Just because someone unfollows you, it doesn't mean you're not likeable or exciting. You're just not relevant. Stop taking it personally – you didn't have the same interests. Only follow those you're interested in, and you've got things in common.

You're part of a de-cluttering process

People unfollow people because they want to free up the number of accounts they follow and have a more realistic and manageable feed. Following too many people can make life impossible, particularly when you want to focus on a small selection of people and what they're up to.

You're re-tweeting too much

Many people – including myself – love to re-tweet or 'RT', helping others to get their messages out there. While this is a great thing, it can be off-putting to some. If you're going to RT, make sure you don't over-abuse it, and only RT the excellent stuff.

You're too negative

It's a well-known fact that people don't like negativity. If your tweets are full of political rants, bitchiness or bad behaviour, it can be a real turn off. Be friendly, and people will like you. Avoid any conflict and don't get involved in any petty gossip. Positive people attract, while negative people repel.

You're tweeting too many quotes

Something quite common on Twitter is people tweeting quotes. While the odd inspiring snippet here and there is welcome, too many will annoy people. Restrict yourself to one quote a day, if you really must.

You're following someone others don't like

It's human nature to distance ourselves from people who are associated with people we don't like. If you're following someone who's deeply unpopular on Twitter, then you could find their bad karma rubs off on you. I'm not saying we should all turn against one another. It's just worth noting that 'guilt by association' can be assumed.

You're taking Twitter too seriously

Let's face it. No one likes a party pooper. If you're taking Twitter too seriously and falling out with people or even getting angry with those who unfollow you, then you can't expect people to hang around. I can not stress this enough – Twitter is about following others with similar interests, and that's about as deep as it gets. It's not like seeing friends you've known for over 20 years down your local pub who suddenly get up and announce the friendship is over. It's not real – so stop taking it so seriously.

You're not following back

When it comes to my own @katylcowan account, I only follow people who are friends or who have similar interests, like photography, cycling, gaming or snowboarding. I want to see tweets in my feed that are relevant to me. I don't follow everyone back these days because 500 followers are quite enough.

Many people might stop following me because I'm not following them – and the same will happen to your accounts. It's nothing personal. But remember the number of followers you have is irrelevant. It's more important to be following those relevant to you unless numbers count.

You're not interacting

Tweeting about the same things all the time and just doing one-way communication? People will likely stop following you because self-broadcasting is hugely off-putting. Twitter is about engagement. Stop firing out selfish, one-way tweets and start listening and talking to others. Establish relationships, and you'll keep followers.