Both brands and individuals can build up massive followings on Twitter by being good net-citizens and sharing content that people value. It’s also considered polite to reciprocate by following people back when they follow you. As a result, Twitter accounts can end up following thousands while direct message spam can reach monumental proportions.
Should brand community managers or individuals accept spam as a cost of social media marketing on Twitter? Will reducing the number of accounts being followed by thousands have a negative impact on reach, influence and branding? Is eliminating direct message spam worth the effort?
A Look at the Numbers
Over a three day period (1/19 – 1/21) more than 15,000 Twitter accounts were unfollowed by my personal account. Many of the accounts unfollowed were obviously connected to some sort of automation software because over 600 unfollowed me immediately. However, on the third day (see below) the attrition rate dropped dramatically to only 61 in 24 hours.
In total, unfollowing 15,000 Twitter accounts led to a 2.9 percent follower attrition rate over three days. It also dropped the number of lists my account was on from 913 to 904 – a one percent decrease.
However, when normalizing the attrition over the last 30 days the damage is very minimal – only losing 205 followers or .9 percent. That’s a small price to pay in the battle to eliminate spam.
Surprisingly, out of every account that was unfollowed only two negative tweets were sent my way (see below). On the other hand, five tweets were very positive in nature. It’s safe to say that any negative impact on my personal brand was negligible.
@cpollittiu Sorry, but you unfollow me. I will do the same. Let me know.
— Juan G Garcia (@juan11637) January 20, 2013
@cpollittiu In that case, I’ll unfollow you as well. I’ll be back when you are.
— Stefan Brandes (@stefanb_) January 20, 2013
Accepting spam on Twitter is not a cost of doing social media marketing – community managers can do something about it. Additionally, impacts on reach, influence and branding are negligible at worst. Now the hard work of scouring my Twitter lists for people I know and trust to re-follow begins. However, the elimination of direct message spam in my inbox makes it all worth it.
Image Credit: Vince_Lamb