Life has limitations and we learn to live with them or at least we try to. Social media has limitations too; which I learned the hard way when I was kicked off Twitter one day last week.
Looking at the limitations
Some social media limitations are ridiculous. I don’t think I’ll ever send out 3,000 LinkedIn invitations and have to request more.
I’m also wary about “liking” Facebook business and brand pages. I prefer not to let everyone know I like pizza or swimming by liking general pages such as those. So if I ever reach that limit of 500 business/brand page likes, I’ll be surprised.
The same goes for YouTube. It’s very nice that they increased the video upload limitation to 15 minutes in the summer of 2010; but even the trade show videos I produce are usually in the 3- to 4-minute time frame. After that, I think you lose your viewers.
I have hit limits though
Check out these ridiculous limits Twitter has. Has anyone ever hit that 1,000-tweet-a-day limitation or needed to change their email address that’s linked to the network more than four times in an hour? I find it highly doubtful.
One Twitter limitation I did hit was the 2,000 follower rule. This limitation requires that you must have 2,000 followers on your own account before you can follow more than 2,000 other accounts. I hit this limit gradually over an 18-month period (unlike this person who was following 500 accounts a day). It was frustrating but I simply went back and unfollowed accounts that didn’t interact much. I used a tool like this one to accomplish that task.
The day I was kicked off Twitter
I’ve been over that 2,000 follower mark for several months now so I thought my Twitter limitation worries were over. Imagine my surprise when, on Aug. 9, I was actually kicked off Twitter.
Apparently Twitter also has a “tweets per hour” limitation of which I wasn’t aware. While Twitter isn’t specific about what that number limitation is, this blog approximates it to be about 41 tweets an hour. The day I was kicked off Twitter happened to be a Thursday when we host #shehechat, so I guess it isn’t so surprising that I tweeted more than that hour limitation; if indeed that it correct.
How it happened
I’ve joked at the beginning of speaking engagements when I share my Twitter handle that you should “follow me if you dare.” I admit that some days I tweet about 100 times a day. While that is a rarity, I did post more than 100 times on Aug. 9. Below is a timeline of how I was kicked off Twitter. (All times are CST.)
The previous day (Aug. 8): This was a travel day for me. My tweets for the entire day only numbered 28. (I’m just throwing that in there for comparison.)
First tweet on Aug. 9: It was around 8:30 a.m. I know this because I rarely use social media before 9 a.m. I make stupid mistakes like I did on that day. After this first tweet below, I sent out a few others to respond to @ replies from the night before.
Between 10:30 and 11 a.m.: I sent out two tweets during this 30-minute time span. One was to promote Jim’s blog post and the other was to answer someone’s @ reply.
My 1 to 2 p.m. lunch break: I tweeted twice and one was a Foursquare post.
In the late afternoon: I sent one more promotional tweet for Jim’s post and promoted our #shehechat that night.
The total number of tweets between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. was only 15 tweets. (You’d think at this point I couldn’t possibly reach more than 100 for the day, right? Wrong.)
Between 6 and 8 p.m.: Since #shehechat starts at 8 p.m., I usually promote it several times in the two hours leading up to it. Total number of tweets in this time span was 30. I also interacted with some people.
So far for the day, I was up to 45 tweets, which still wasn’t a ridiculous number.
The hourlong #shehechat: This was where I got a little crazy. For the chat, I was using two devices and three Twitter apps/methods. I had queued up the topics on my iPhone Twitter app so I was posting those that way. On my laptop, I was using the Twitter desktop version to track the #shehechat stream and HootSuite to track my @ replies (in case some people forgot to use the hashtag). My total tweets during the chat totaled 93, which of course was more than double the aforementioned 41 tweets per hour limitation.
Between 9 and 10:30 p.m.: I answered a few more straggling #shehechat tweets and also jumped over to #mediachat, which has a time slot each Thursday right after our chat. I have done this before without a problem. In these 90 minutes, I posted 24 additional tweets. After this #mediachat tweet below, I was kicked off Twitter for the rest of the evening.
Total tweets for Aug. 9 was 162; much fewer than the 1,000 tweet limit per day.
At 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 10 (12 hours after the last tweet): This was the first time I tried to tweet since I was kicked off. It went through without any issues and I haven’t had any problems since.
Why did it happen?
I have three theories on why I was sent to the Twitter jail that day.
- I hit and exceeded the tweet-per-hour limitation during #shehechat with 93 tweets.
- I was posting to one Twitter account from two different IP addresses (my iPhone and my laptop) simultaneously.
- Between #shehechat and #mediachat, I was just using t00 many hashtags and it started to look like spam.
I still don’t know if any of these theories are correct, if it was a combination of these or if there was a different reason altogether. If any of you have ideas or theories, I’d love to hear about them because I’d like to try to avoid this in the future.