Social networking sites seem to have a lifespan of about two years before the next-big-thing arrives to steal the limelight.
The MySpace craze died out in the UK way back in 2005, and by 2007 Facebook had become the biggest social networking site of all time, ever.
Now, though, all the talk is about Twitter. And even though it was secretly growing in popularity long before the likes of Philip Schofield starting waffling about it on telly, it's now taking over from Facebook as the most-talked about community platform.
The problem is that as people migrate across the Twitter, they bring their bad e-habits with them. And with every individual seemingly interpreting Twitter's usefulness in entirely different ways, people are inevitably starting to annoy each other.
To avoid being unfollowed en-masse, you'd be wise to follow these simple rules:
1. Don't use your Twitter account as an RSS feed
How can we put this politely? For the love of God, Twitter is not an RSS reader! It's intensely irritating when you follow a website, corporate account or individual expecting some interesting content, only to get spammed to hell and back with dozens of links that haven't even been vetted for the Twitter audience. If you're going to link out, choose wisely, do it in context and don't spew links all day long, please!
2. Avoid Twitter diarrhoea
If you update your twitter feed every 10 seconds all day every day, you'll get unfollowed so fast you won't even have time to tweet about it. It doesn't matter how important, funny or awesome you think you are, no one is interesting enough to spam my feed with updates like "Am sitting on the toilet and contemplating the day ahead". Go muse about your bowel movements somewhere more appropriate – like MySpace, perhaps.
3. Stop re-tweeting yourself
It sounds ridiculous, but it seems to happen all the time. People tweet something that they think is particularly clever or funny (it's usually nothing of the sort), and when no one seems to notice or RT them, they repeat the tweet two hours later. Please consider that you're probably not as funny as you think you are, and try harder next time.
4. Don't spam Facebook with Twitter updates
TweetDeck and the like are fantastic little apps, but integrating the Facebook status update was a monumentally bad idea. People are already abandoning Facebook like rats from the Titanic – but when we do go back there we don't want to see hundreds of status updates that were intended for Twitter. Sorry, but spamming both feeds with the same stuff is lazy, annoying and just plain infuriating.
5. Stop the bragging
It doesn't matter how kind and tolerant you are, you have to admit it – the one thing you really can't stand is a smart arse. So when people brag, boast and crow about how great they are and what a fun time they're having all the time, it just makes people think they're an annoying idiot. If you win ten quid on the lottery, please do tell your Twitter followers – but it's not necessary to twitter about it all bloody day, nor is it a pre-requisite for you to post 20 twitpics of the winning ticket to prove you're telling the truth, and then list the 18 things you might spend your winnings on.
6. Don't reply to celebrity twitterers
Following an interesting celebrity is all well and good – some of them really do offer up some cool comments. However, replying to something a celeb with thousands of followers has said smacks of stupidity. It makes you look like a brown-nosing fool, and your followers will see you as such.
7. Don't use Twitter like a chat window
If you're going to have a 16-tweet conversation with someone, please either get a room or take your chat somewhere more appropriate like Windows Live Messenger. This kind of thing only shows up on people's feeds if they're following both parties – still though, more than two @replies each counts as SPAM in our book.
8. Stop the shameless follower chasing
It seems it doesn't matter how different all the social media sites are, they have one key thing in common: the people using them are obsessed with getting as many friends/followers as possible. On Twitter, people tend to follow people/accounts who they think will follow them back, just to boost the numbers. It's vanity in the extreme, don't do it.
9. Don't ask people to RT your tweets
If people liked what you said, they might choose to re-tweet it. If they didn't like it, they definitely won't – unless what you said was so ridiculously stupid that they're repeating it in order to ridicule you. Admittedly, in some cases asking for RTs is ok, but on the whole it makes you look desperate.
10. Stop the in-jokes
Twittering in-jokes that only one other person is likely to 'get' – doesn't make you look cool. It makes you look like a berk. Fact.
And these are some of the bad twitter habits that have been annoying TechRadar readers:
@LucyJaneTaylor - People replying wittily to famous people in the feeble hope they will reply and make friends.
@stablesjames - People who have annoying and boring thoughts AND are plugged in 24/7 via their iPhone. They should be banned.
@jshez - people who retweet replies they've received.
@wideawakewesley - People that follow everyone who follows them.
@techandlife - I get really annoyed with people incessantly tweeting the count down to a new Ubuntu release.
@garymarshall - Twittering about Twitter, esp. how to get X many followers in X period. Feels like MAKE $ ONLINE emails.
@ericwhelan - Linked Twitter updates and Facebook statuses. I find them absolutely infuriating!
@guydoyen - People who think Twitter is a chat irritates me.
@bonzrat - People who sniffily stop following someone cos of one Tweet they don't like. Also, the word 'tweet'.
@SamCarelse - a) Too Much Information and b) in-jokes directed to everyone.
@jamesainsworth - the number of media outlets competing for budget day hashtag supremacy.