The last few weeks I’ve seen an increase of twitter followers to an account I own but has been dead for almost two years. Three of the new followers were Oklahoma businesses which caught my attention – that and the huge number of followers for what I would consider to be a relatively small business with a small clientele.
I’ve reviewed their accounts and found the following:
- They’ve since un-followed me likely because I didn’t follow them back.
- They are adding about 250 – 500 followers per week.
- Each account has almost identical stats of following and followers.
- Tweet streams of their followers bear similarities which would make sense if the businesses were in the same industry, but they aren’t.
- Most of the accounts’ tweets are promotional in nature (hey, buy from us! with a link back to the main pages) with little engagement of their followers.
- One account with 19,000 followers hasn’t tweeted since Dec. 1, 2010.
My assumption is these businesses have hired a company to handle their social efforts and the client (and perhaps servicing company) has little understanding of the platforms and how they can be used to benefit their organization. I don’t know the objectives so I can’t comment on whether they are being met.
The stats look impressive – 20,000 followers and growing by the day. Their followers’ tweet stream, a new feature offered by twitter, paints a possible different picture and reminds us that size of followers has little to do with value. It’s all about targeting, engaging, and providing value (a few other elements could be tossed in but you get the point). For this Tulsa Doctor, these new followers will likely have little value when you consider they can only have clients who can make it to their office or place an order to be shipped within the U.S.
The bigger issue
The client has likely been sold on an idea which has no real value and is well documented – the number of followers alone has little value to a business. In the PR/Advertising industry, we have a code of ethics which prohibits us from engaging in this type of practice so I can only assume it is someone outside the industry. However that doesn’t stop it from hurting our industry in the long term. In the end, when the client realizes they have received no return on their investment, those of us who abide by ethical standards will be lumped into the same category of shysters.
The value of buying Twitter followers:
To the client – little to nothing. Yes, the followers are impressive. But for the money spent, it is doubtful you will ever see a return.
To the firm providing the service – The immediate value of payment but long term they will lose the client and possibly gain a bad reputation.
To the PR/Advertising industry - Nothing and such practices actually hurt us all.
My conundrum - what to do? I suppose I could call out the company or contact the client and tell them to beware. I wonder if I could get a hat and sidekick to ride along with me on this quest. It wouldn’t be the first time I have battled windmills. I suppose sharing my thoughts here, in the hopes small business owners will trip across this post when they Google “How to increase twitter followers”, will be the end of my quest.
p.s. I’ve deliberately blurred defining elements of the above twitter account. If something was missed please let me know and I will re-edit. If you are the owner of this account and would like for me to remove it please send me a note and I will be more than happy to replace it with one of the other accounts mentioned above.
Updated – 6:39 p.m. to correct typos and grammatical errors. Really need to proof read a bit more before hitting update.