Why follower count shouldn’t be your one and only metric: an experiment!

I stand by every word of two particular debate-provoking tweets about ‘vanity followers’ I’ve sent out previously. So much so, that it’s time for a little experiment with my own account! I’ll take the risks, so you don’t have to!

“Would you rather wave goodbye to one of your best friends or 5,000 mannequins?”

“The purpose of #Twitter is to interact, so I’d rather have five followers interested in my brand than five thousand who couldn’t give a monkey’s.”

It’s a little difficult for me to justify the claims in those two tweets when I’m sitting here typing this with 6,112 followers, and a ‘Following’ count of 4,519, most of whom I’ve never met or interacted with.

What would happen if I performed a mass unfollow? How many of my followers only follow me because I follow them? How many are robots?

I’ve been very careful in the way I’ve built up my followership over a long time, only trying to attract genuine, relevant individuals and brands with similar interests who I can interact with. Evidence of this was the recent Twitter purge of fake accounts, which hit many others much harder then me.

But, presumably, a mass unfollow will still mean my own follower count would nose dive as a result? Let’s find out!

Before I start, let’s remind ourselves of the point of the project. The primary objective of social media is to interact. In an age where you can readily purchase followers (although it’s becoming more difficult), it’s easy for your account to be made up of ‘vanity followers’. You could have two million, and interact with none of them.

I don’t want that for my account. Like I said, I’d rather have five genuine followers. So let’s see how many of my 6,112 are on this platform for the right reasons!

I’m going to use two means of unfollowing – ManageFlitter and the trusty old traditional Twitter desktop platform. ManageFlitter is an awesome piece of online kit which helps you manage most aspects of your audience. Give the free version a try and I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

After a warm-up of my finger muscles… it’s time to start clicking!

ManageFlitter provides an option for you to see a list of those ‘Not Following Back’, so that seems like a great place to start. Next there’s the people with ‘No Profile Image’. Although not a definitive measurement, if someone’s not taken the time to upload even the most basic of avatars, you have to wonder if their heart’s fully into this Twitter thing, or even if they’re real.

The ‘Inactive’ list speaks for itself, so that’s the next plan of attack. Let’s free myself from some of those who will never tweet me anyway! Tip: if your list is in the order of ‘Spam Score’ it puts the more ‘trashy’ accounts at the top. I’ve unfollowed around 500 accounts now but I’m yet to see any dramatic effect on my own follower count. Just a couple, maybe.

Although constantly mouse clicking can be tiresome (not to mention irritating for anyone within a ten-metre radius), it’s important to maintain a degree of focus so you don’t accidentally unfollow someone you mean to keep (sorry if you fit into that category – I didn’t mean to offend)!

When you’re in a bit of a trance you can sometimes unfollow before you’ve even realised it, so be careful if you’re likely to lose business by doing this (although ManageFlitter do have a handy ‘Undo Recent’ function on the right of the page, plus a paid-for service where they do the clicking for you).

That’s about 1,500 unfollowed now, and still no real effect on my follower count. This feels like a game of Jenga! It’s got to fall soon, hasn’t it? I can’t be THAT interesting!

Another focus is those accounts who follow a great deal more people than follow them. That can indicate a desperate need for attention without anything really interesting to say or share (kind of the point of this whole exercise).

You can also sort people by their level of influence from low to high. 2,500ish down now, and no great loss of followers.

3,000 unfollows and counting, still hardly an impact. I’m going to look at my ‘Everyone You Follow’ list to do some more pruning. Tick!

So, that’s some of the main ManageFlitter tools exhausted, now it’s the turn of the main Twitter interface for another look with a fine tooth comb, which is a slower process but it’s still a cleansing feeling somehow! Goodbye, robots!

I’ve unfollowed in the region of 4,200 accounts in the space of an hour or two and only surrendered around seven followers. I’m doing this late at night, so maybe I’ll notice a lot more in the morning? We’ll see…

The next day still doesn’t have the cliff-edge drop I thought might happen – maybe a few dozen. What about a few days later? If anyone was going to automatically unfollow me because they’re only in it for a follow back, or they’re a bot, it’s likely they would have done it by now. Only a few hundred have abandoned me!

So I guess what I have now is my realistic follower count. This is an exercise which certainly seems to have worked for me, although I’ll offer a quick disclaimer and say it might not work for everyone.

I’d certainly recommend considering having a go at the above process for yourself if you think it’d be beneficial, so get in touch if you’d like any advice on my experiences of ManageFlitter, and how best to go about it. You could considerably improve your follower-to-following ratio and credibility.

As another footnote, many, many apologies if I’ve unfollowed you accidentally as a result of this exercise! I genuinely didn’t mean it – fat fingers can happen when you’re doing this – so please get in touch with me and we can reconnect! If I’m still following you after all that, though… consider yourself appreciated!

If we’re still connected… let’s talk social media marketing!

Categories: Twitter News, Uncategorized

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