Twitter has become a force to be reckoned with in the social media world. Businesses here and there are opting to get a Twitter account to increase their influence, build up their brands, and even just to get into the social media hype. But while many are saying that it is all about the numbers—i.e. followers, followings, and tweets—there are a number of reasons why a decrease in Twitter followers may be just what you need.
The Twitter Misconception
There is a preconceived notion that having a lot of followers in this particular side of the internet equals to authority and influence. Although a majority of people would admit that a huge following is an attractive trait in a profile, not everyone with hundreds of thousands of followers are famous—or real.
Take Santiago Swallow, for example. He was created by writer Kevin Ashton who wanted to prove how easy it is to be a digital celebrity with just $68. The article doesn’t just narrate how Santiago Swallow was put into the spotlight in just a couple of days. It also delved deeper into the issue of fake followers, which internet maven-wannabes use to give themselves more weight as “influencers”.
The Definition of Fake
The Twitterverse is littered with fake accounts that even celebrities and other known people fall victim to them. But, unlike popular opinion, not all Eggheads are spam. The common signs of a fake account are as follows:
• a display picture of an average looking person or a vague artwork
• 0 tweets but a number of followings, not that much followers
• does have tweets but contains “weird” content
An example of a fake account
However, there are a lot of fake accounts that are more elaborate that they will trick anyone to think it was real. They have full bios, inconspicuous display images, a collection of average looking photos, a link to a personal website, and tweets that actually make sense. But, unlike most Twitter users, these accounts have been created for the sole purpose of increasing numbers of those who pay for them (and of those who have already established their names in various industries, just because they’re famous).
Robots are taking over the social media world
Twitter bots aren’t necessarily spammy. Some of them give automated blog updates, hilarious tweets, informative news updates, and much more.
Tweet automation is not at all bad. Brands and businesses that cater to different locations around the world understandably need to tweet at different time zones. News organizations need to update their followers in real time. Tweet automation comes in handy with these but the problem lies in two things: one, when people overdo it and two, when people use it to boost the number of their tweets in an attempt to show that they’re active, when they’re not. Worse even is when people use it to show that they’re “legit” in a certain industry.
A good example of this is the difference between “SEO” and “Seo”. In this industry, SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization, but in Korea, Seo is a common last name. Keying in the keyword “Seo” for tweet automation can produce results in both these areas.
Below are screenshots of partial Twilert results for “SEO Philippines”.
(Note: Results that were really about the Search Engine Optimization in the Philippines were cropped out of the image.)
Notice how all of them are about Korean artists. But those who have tweeted these claim to be “SEO professionals”—SEO meaning in the Search Engine Optimization industry, not in any way associated with Korean entertainment. Some of these accounts didn’t have much followers and following, but one did have an enviable 20,000+ followers. A closer look, however, showed a number of recurring followers with no bios or tweets whatsoever and other telltale signs that they might just be there for mere statistical purposes.
Engagement is more important, not the numbers
Quite a large number of people and businesses seem to forget the number one aim of creating social media accounts in the first place: customer engagement. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are there primarily for a better digital communication. For businesses, it’s more imperative to have a better online customer relationship in order to establish a good online reputation, rather than to keep up appearances by having ghost followers.
It’s ridiculous to have thousands “following” you, but your posts only get a little to no response or retweets. That alone should note how useless it is to have impressive numbers just for show but little engagement or “real” reach.
(Tip: Tweetdeck lets you see mentions of other people)
Marketers, businesses owners, and just everyone else in the Twittersphere should know that follower statistics doesn’t equal to dollar signs. And it certainly doesn’t equal to a high influence or authority. It’s high time that the social media norm based on numbers should change.