The tragic tale of the Twunfollow threat

A long while ago, I held a meeting with a potential supplier. In the tradition of Simon Bates’ Our Tune, let’s call them Fred. I liked Fred’s work very much indeed, but we weren’t able to move ahead with a suitable project. Since then, however, we have been in touch through LinkedIn and Twitter. Although I don’t always respond (I got the feeling that Fred’s Twitter account had been hacked), this contact has kept them top of mind such that, about two weeks ago, I mentioned to a colleague of mine that it would be worth considering them if we were to move ahead on a possible project.

Now a few evenings ago I received a message from Fred, via Twitter, asking how I was. I was, in fact, busy, so I left it, intending to respond within a day. But the following morning I received another tweet:

Am I going to do some work for you? I will unfollow until I hear back 🙂

Although I’ve calmed down now, I was pretty irritated to receive this tweet. Not because it was wrong to ask about the work but because of the implications of the unfollow.

Earlier in the year, my Twitter feed went a bit mad on the Borgen front. The Borgenistas are a friendly, articulate loquacious bunch and it can be hard to keep up. I can imagine that there’s been a bit too much all Borgen all the time for those who had been expecting comment on branding, or strategy, or Palace, or whatever. I could understand if that meant I lose a follower here or there. In addition, I don’t formally follow everyone whose feeds I enjoy – using Tweetdeck you don’t have to. So follow me or not (unless you’re Waitrose in which case pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease keep following).

But for Fred to threaten a Twunfollow until he heard from me seemed to be saying something else: that the reciprocal follow was something he endured for business purposes: that there was nothing in the feed of interest to him unless there were big zlotys at the end of it. And that I would be so desperate to avoid an unfollow that I’d be back in touch straight away. As it was, I was tired and cranky when I received the message and though I’m not the kind of person who would allow it to be a clincher between giving someone work or not, I can imagine others who might. Clumsy and unnecessary.


  1. I shed twitter followers like Mario Fellaini sheds dandruff. I imagine*. It sounds to me like it was a joke and/or cry for attention that went wrong. Besides of which, there is a fatal flaw in his strategy, if he unfollows you, you can’t DM him. So if you do wanna hire his ass, you’re going to have to put out an APB to get his attention, aka a general tweet or posting. That’s hardly likely to happen is it?

    Oh and on the subject of work, *pulls needy face and does the stretched hand to the side of the face*, “call me…” 🙂

    *just in case the lanky, sharp-elbowed bluenose bogbrush is particularly litigious or just sensitive

  2. Sounds like Fred’s social (media) etiquette doesn’t stretch beyond the standards of the school playground. But people are always screwing up online. I occasionally get asked for careers advice by strangers on LinkedIn. Having established to my satisfaction that the out-reach is not some sort of HR-scam, I will reply. More often than not, I get no acknowledgement back. Maybe, it’s because they find my ‘realistic’ advice unpalatable, maybe it’s because they’re just self-obsessed sociopaths. Either way, like Fred, they have just trashed any relationship I was building with them.

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