Is Follow/Unfollow Dead?
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Social media is constantly changing, and it is the manager's job to adapt to the times. One strategy that was incredibly common a couple of years ago was implementing a follow/unfollow strategy to increase your follower base on Twitter and/or Instagram. What exactly is a follow/unfollow strategy, and can it still be worked into your marketing plan today?
A follow/unfollow strategy is a plan to follow individuals on Twitter or Instagram in the hopes of them following you back. The unfollow aspect is to improve your follow ratio, so you don't have a situation where you are following 1000 people and have 100 followers. Here is an example of the strategy:
Monday: Follow 30 people
Tuesday: Follow 30 people
Wednesday: Unfollow 50 people
Thursday: Follow 30 people
Friday: Unfollow 50 people
This plan allows you to follow new people constantly and unfollow individuals who aren't following you back or don't have similar interests to your brand. So, is there anything wrong with this strategy and doing it? Years ago, it was common to follow hundreds of people daily. In return, they would then unfollow hundreds of people daily, often those who just followed them. This is when the strategy is taken too far and delves into the world of spam. If you follow aggressively and unfollow the same people who follow you back, you are churning followers, which is not allowed on most social media sites.
There is nothing wrong with following exciting people and hoping they follow you back. There is something wrong with following many people and then dropping them after a couple of days, whether they follow you back or not. So, can you do a follow/unfollow strategy without being flagged by social media as a bot or spam account? Of course, you can, and we utilize the example plan above. Following around 30 people a day won't trigger any spam warnings. Unfollowing 50 also will be fine. Unfollowing rarely gets you in trouble; the aggressive following will result in shadow bans and blocks. Along with the lower-level following, we follow individuals interested in the brand we are working with. This means finding people who like, retweet, or follow competitors or brands similar to ours.
If you stick to a simple plan for follow/unfollow, you won't run into any issues, but you need to think about what you are trying to get out of the strategy. Getting more followers and impressions is excellent, but vanity metrics mean nothing if the people who follow you don't vibe with your content and click on links. With this in mind, please consider the follow/unfollow strategy as a way to keep your account fresh but not as the be-all-end-all for improving essential KPIs.
What about you? Do you have a follow/unfollow strategy? Is it worth having?