Please stop retweeting testimonial spam

Twitter is an awesome tool. Non-users have asked me how to use it and my answer generally is that it differs from person to person. In my case, I use it mainly as a source of news by following interesting people and bots, as well as a few lighthearted moments through people I know personally making funny comments or tweeting funny links. I will try to be funny myself in my tweets, tweet interesting articles I find (often from within the site/app I’m reading them on) or retweet interesting articles I see in my stream.

I don’t use any fancy readers for Twitter besides the Twitter-provided ones on Mac, iPad and iPhone. When I open the app, I have a long list of all the tweets, completely unfiltered, and I start to scan them in reverse chronological order from roughly where I left off before, reading whatever sounds interesting. Being a multiple-times-daily habit makes you realize not only the topics and frequency of tweets for each person I follow, but also I really start to get a sense of quality. Quality is obviously a subjective word, but in my use case of Twitter, quality simply means “how likely am I to a) read b) digest c) react to and d) click on the link in a tweet?”

Unfortunately, there are some people who use Twitter very differently from me and I question why they use it this way. No, I don’t mean the shameless self-promoters, narcissists or the brand/product-centric marketing accounts. What I mean is the people who search for stuff related to their company and then retweet those testimonials. I question this because:

  1. Why do I care? I know your service/product/opinion is great and you can tell me that, but you don’t need to send me 5+ tweets a day from strangers to prove a point I already know. Just send me an interesting article every few days or a cool stat about it.
  2. With my Twitter clients, retweets show up as coming from the original poster, not the retweeter. Using my quality metric and limited time, I tend to skip many retweets. The only saving grace is when I notice that the retweeter is a super high quality user. Then I sometimes click through.
  3. When you do send a worthwhile non-retweet, non-testimonial tweet out, as a testimonial spammer your assumed quality is so low that I mostly don’t bother reading any of your tweets.

So in essence, consider the signal-to-noise ratio in your actions on Twitter. Send lots of signal with little noise. My reaction is that after some time, I unfollow people who are effectively spamming me. Now I know one un-follow from me is completely meaningless, but I also know that others are frustrated by this as well and have probably found ways to filter you out or will unfollow you too. Remember, this means that means even your worthwhile tweets get sent to junk and now you’ve completely defeated the purpose of sending out tweets. So stop the Twitter testimonial spam. Get a separate corporate account for that. Thank you.

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