Why Your Brand Should Never Ever (Ever, Ever, Ever) Crowd Follow

At SoBu Social Media Marketing, something we see all too often is Social Media Marketing firms and other Social Media Marketing professionals presenting Social Media to their clients as a way to reach more people online, but then using follower count as the sole metric for measuring the success of the Social Media marketing strategy that they implement.

The problem with a follower-centric approach to Social Media Marketing is that many Social Media Marketing firms will do just about anything to get their clients more followers, with no regard to the suitability or potential for conversion of each follower. This leads to the creation of  strategies with a quantity-over-quality focus which provide, at best, no value to their clients and are, more often than not,  detrimental to their brand.  

One such cumbersome strategy that we STILL see employed by many Social Media Marketing firms is crowd following, or , as it is more accurately termed by Twitter and Instagram, follower churn or aggressive following.

What is Follower Churn

Follower churn is a strategy of gaining more followers by following large numbers of twitter or Instagram users, in the hopes that, in turn, those users will follow back. After a set time period, the users who did not follow back are unfollowed. As this process is repeated, a Twitter or Instagram account will gain more and more followers.

If you are only measuring the success of your Social Media Marketing efforts on Twitter and Instagram by the number of followers you have, you might be duped into believing that you are succeeding in increasing your brand reach and the size of your online audience. 

While you will end up with a large number of Twitter and Instagram followers over a period of time, follower churn, or aggressive following, is not a beneficial practice for your brand.

Why Follower Churn Doesn't Equate to Success

What makes, or breaks, your brand's Social Media Marketing strategy is the way that your brand engages with your fans online. What we mean by this, is that your goal should be to present your brand in a way that encourages online audiences to follow you, not because you have followed them, but because of the value that your brand is able to add to your audience's online experience through the sharing of relevant and engaging content.

Why Your Should Never Crowd Follow

With crowd following, your brand is reaching out to users with little to no investment in your brand. When you happen upon a user who does follow you back, their obligation to your brand is fulfilled the moment they click 'Follow'. They will be happy to remain your brand's Twitter or Instagram follower for as long as your brand continues to follow them. What these users WON'T do is like or share your content, click through to your brand's website, or engage with your brand in any profitable way at all.

Additionally, aggressive following will skew your brand's following to follower ratio. One of the metrics that online audiences use to determine the value of a Twitter or Instagram account, is the number of followers that an account has compared to the number of user that account follows. When your brand engages in crowd following, you must continue to follow the accounts that follow you back in order to retain these users as followers. This leads to a following to follower ratio that is close to 1:1.

Follower Churn is Spammy

In order to protect their users' experience online, Twitter has taken a hard line on Spammy activity and have deemed follower churn to be a spammy practice which detracts from their users' experience. You can read all about what Twitter has to say about follower churn here

In addition to Twitter frowning on aggressive following, your potential audience does as well. Brands who maintain a high number of Twitter or Instagram accounts that they follow are seen as less authoritative than brands who follower few accounts. In addition, brands who follow a small number of accounts wield more power with their followers.

Think about how flattered you would feel if the celebrities that you adore suddenly began to follow your Twitter or Instagram account. By maintaining a reasonable number of accounts followed by your brand, you are able to add value to your online audience's experience with your brand just by following their account.

It Matters Who You Follow

Who you follow on Twitter and Instagram is an important piece of your brand's success on these Social Media platforms. Who you follow makes up a large part your brand's reputation. A great example of this would be a company who produces eco-friendly cleaning products and also follows Donald Trump's Twitter account. They would likely be seen as hypocritical given Trump's stance on environmental protection.

When your brand's marketing firm engages in follower churn on behalf of your brand, little attention is paid to WHO is being followed. This has lead to a number of businesses and brand following inappropriate Twitter or Instagram accounts and has contributed to the development of a poor reputation on these platforms.

How Do Your Identify Aggressive Following

Unfortunately, a number of Social Media Marketing professionals out there prey on their clients' unfamiliarity with Social Media. They rely on their clients' lack of expertise as a means of trumping up bogus metrics which they claim equate to success. If you ask your Social Media Marketing firm if they are engaging in follower churn on your brand's behalf, you are not likely to get a straightforward response, because they know they are not implementing a strategy that is beneficial to your brand.

So what should you look for when it comes to aggressive following behaviour? The biggest indicator of aggressive following practices is your brand's follower to following ratio. Depending upon the severity of the aggressive following strategy that your Social Media Marketing firm is employing, you might find that your brand is suddenly following 500 more Twitter or Instagram accounts in a given day. If your account is following a much larger number of accounts than the number that is following you, this is a clear sign that your Social Media Marketing firm is trying to get your brand noticed in a detrimental and unproductive way.

Some Social Media Marketing professionals, however, will not be so blatant in their aggressive following tactics and might limit their follower churn to 50-100 accounts each day. While this is less harmful to your brand, it is still a practice that adds no value to your brand's Social Media presence. 

In these situations, we recommend taking a look at who your brand is following on Social Media. Question your marketing firm on why they made the decision to follow that account. They may have a reason for their following and unfollowing behaviour, but if it is follower churn, your marketing firm is not doing their job and they are not working in the best interest of your brand.

Beyond Followers

A sure fire way to ensure that your Social Media Marketing firm isn't engaging in aggressive following practices, or any other practice that is not beneficial to your brand, is to ask for more metrics than just the number of followers your brand has. 

At SoBu Social Media Marketing, we take your brand beyond followers. We employ a uniquely analytic-centric approach that looks at a number of key Social Media measures to determine the success of the Social Media Marketing strategy we employ for our clients. Of the measures that we take into account, follower growth is only one.

We also believe that clear, concise and respectful communication between our firm and our clients is the key to forming a successful partnership to the benefit of our brand and our clients. To this end, we maintain complete transparency with regards to the Social Media Marketing strategy we are employing on your brand's behalf. We also create weekly and monthly reports that our Social Media account managers go over with their clients in great detail. 

To learn more about SoBu Social Media Marketing's targeted approach to Social Media Marketing and to find out how we will take your brand beyond followers, contact us here