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Is Follow/Unfollow Dead?

Welcome to The Social Lab! This blog will not only help you navigate your personal social media but also investigate marketing trends and examples of great social media work. Do you have something we should talk about? Make sure to send us an email or contact us on social media.

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Social media is always changing, and it is the social media 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?

Basically, 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 constantly follow new people 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 for people to follow hundreds of people every single day. In return, they would then unfollow hundreds of people a day, many times, people who just followed them. This is when the strategy is taken too far and delves into the world of spam. If you are following aggressively and unfollowing 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 interesting people and even hoping that they follow you back. There is something wrong with following a lot of people and then dropping them after a couple of days, no matter if 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 honestly, we utilize the example plan above. Following around 30 people a day won't trigger any spam warnings. Unfollowing 50 also won't be an issue. In fact, unfollowing rarely gets you in trouble; it is the aggressive following that will result in shadow bans and blocks. Along with the lower level following, we make sure to actually follow individuals interested in the brand we are working with. This means finding people that like, retweet, or follow competitors or brands that are 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 are great, but they are also vanity metrics that mean nothing if the people that follow you don't vibe with your content and click on links. With this in mind, please think of the follow/unfollow strategy as a way always to keep your account fresh, but not as the be all end all when it comes to improving important KPIs.

What about you? Do you have a follow/unfollow strategy? Do you think it is worth having? Let us know here on Twitter!

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