Often, companies are advised to remove the percentage of Twitter followers that are determined to be fake. The logic is to boost the “value” of the company’s social media following, in order to increase the return on time and/or budget they invest in Twitter social media marketing.
However, as with any complex, automated, algorithmic process, it’s dangerous to trust in it completely. Removing fake followers that a tool has identified could do more harm than good.
What’s the Harm in Having a Few Fake Twitter Followers?
To be perfectly frank, there isn’t any. You’d be doing very little harm to anything by leaving a few fake users following your account. (This is quite different than buying followers, which can harm your brand. How? Fake followers don’t engage. Having a huge “purchased” following, but virtually no engagement, raises suspicions in the eyes of your market.)
Conversely, the only harm in leaving the few fake users that will naturally follow your company’s active Twitter account is that your conversion rate will likely decrease… but only somewhat. Honestly, the low percentage (~5%) of “fake” users (bots, spammers, etc.), that typically follow every active Twitter account aren’t enough to water down conversion rate calculations to any significant degree.
Deleting fake followers in bulk is too risky, as you’d surely be deleting legitimate followers (i.e., potential prospects, partners, etc.).
And deleting fake followers individually is too time-consuming for any profit-focused company.
And how could you even know which followers are fake?
“Wait, don’t delete!” ;(
The Real Problem with “Fake” Followers
There are several automated online tools, like the ones by Social Bakers and Manage Flitter, that purport to analyze the authenticity of your company’s Twitter following and report the number of fake followers. The problem with using tools like these is the frequent mislabeling of real accounts as “fakes.”
Some of the reasons these tools brand Twitter accounts as fake can include:
- Account hasn’t switched from the default Twitter “egg” avatar
- Account hasn’t tweeted in a while (or ever)
- Account follows many more people than follow it
- Account has few or no followers
- And so on.
However, just by reading the list, I’m sure you can already see how this can easily result in reporting of false fakes. Having complete trust in tools like these would be a fantastic way to sabotage your firm’s marketing.
The 2 Types of “Fake” Twitter Followers Never to Unfollow
Type 1: The local client.
If you target locals, a quick manual browse through your follower list will likely reveal many dormant profiles that had “little bursts” of action when the Twitter account was created.
These accounts aren’t fake.
This lack of activity often happens on accounts run by small local businesses that try/tried to manage social media marketing in-house, but don’t/didn’t have the staff, time, knowledge, etc.
Oftentimes, a company rep excitedly sets up a Twitter account, sends several tweets advertising a new website or upcoming event, then gets bored, confused, frustrated by lack of engagement, or just no longer has any clue what to tweet about… and abruptly stops posting.
Unfollower tools often erroneously mark these accounts as fake.
Type 2: The shy guy. Or gal.
As in the real world, we know that the vast majority of people on social media are just listening. They visit Twitter to see what “the world” has to say about topics they care about, and they either prefer to allow the “Chatty Cathys,” Verbose Victors, and Loud Lionels to make utter fools of themselves on their own, thanks, or they just have no desire to actively engage.
It’s a mistake to delete these people too. A lack of activity does not a fake follower make.
The problem? Since no tool can tell when a Twitter user last logged in—not even Twitter itself—“activity” can only be measured by a user tweeting, favoriting, replying, or taking some action on the network.
So unfollower tools also, often, mark these users as fake.
Either of these two Twitter follower types may be hanging onto your every word. They may even come onto Twitter *just* to see what YOUR company is saying and doing this week. Or every day. Or twice daily.
But how would you know?
That’s right; you wouldn’t.
According to the WSJ, only 13% of existing Twitter accounts have written at least 100 tweets. Just 30% of accounts have sent even 1-10 tweets, and a considerable 44% of Twitter accounts have never sent a tweet at all. So calm that itchy clicky finger (or tappy finger, if you’re on mobile) and rethink the deletion of your company’s hard-earned Twitter followers.
Just like at parties, and even at networking events, there are wallflowers. There are also those who try to engage, but are just too darned uncomfortable, unwilling, or simply undesirous.
Teach your organization to love every single one of those quiet types just as much as you appreciate the brazen and vivacious types. Why? Because they’ve chosen to follow YOUR organization for whatever the reason.
Don’t let an unskilled social media manager damage potential business relationships by unfollowing “fake” followers with abandon. In doing so, you could ostracize (and even offend) potential connections and fans who simply may be awaiting the right opportunity to speak up (or share your post, or tell a friend about you)… and who truly value your words.