The “Spammer-in-Chief” and the Art of Tweeting

During the rancorous debt-ceiling debate over the last few weeks, politicians of both parties took to social media to reach out to their constituents and make a case for their respective positions. President Obama, who in part rode social media enthusiasm all the way to the White House 3 years ago, unleashed a torrent of tweets on his followers urging them to contact intransigent Republican politicians on Twitter and demand a compromise.

The result? Um…too many tweets, dude. 

A day-long onslaught of messages cluttered up Twitter feeds across the nation and prompted approximately 40,000 people to unfollow the President. (The good news is that it might have worked anyway; Republican legislators were inundated with calls for a compromise, but that’s a story for another blog post.) Pundits branded Obama as the “Spammer-in-Chief.”

And therein lies a lesson for all of us. Or at least those of us on Twitter. While it’s certainly alright to tweet more often than you post something, say, on Facebook, you still need to be careful. Because you can absolutely tweet too often, and it will frustrate your followers to no end. Well, actually, to a very specific end—them unfollowing you. All those nice followers you worked so hard to get can be gone in a flash.

Tweeting a few times an hour? Fine—especially when you have entertaining or informative tweets that your followers are going to enjoy or be able to use. Anything much more than that is asking for trouble. Twitter is terrific for quick bursts of communication, but no matter how important you think you might be, no one wants to hear from you too often.