Why Follow-for-Follow Creates an Inauthentic Brand Experience

Outside of social media marketing, I hear it everywhere.  “Follow me, and I’ll follow you back!” and advice suggesting that a Twitter user follow every one of their own followers.  Usually, this is the type of thing said by motivational speakers, life coaches and other types of people who don’t truly understand marketing.

To some people, a Twitter follow-for-follow seems like an even exchange.  Or, perhaps it just seems like “the nice thing to do” in order to help please your customers and loyal fans.  But unfortunately, a follow-for-follow pattern can also result in tarnishing your brand’s image and brand experience.

First of all, it’s important to remember that your followers can see who you follow.  If you end up being followed by a spam or ghost account, and you follow them blindly, you are, at the very least, subjecting yourself to spam.  But, you’re also providing incentives for your own followers – the people you influence – to follow spam or fake accounts, which doesn’t seem good for anyone.

Much in the way that it doesn’t make sense for Pepsi to follow Coke, or for Mercedes Benz to follow Kia, it doesn’t make sense for your brand to follow the things that aren’t on-brand.  Sure, you may love the tweets from your friend Albert who constantly tweets funny comments about celebrity gossip, but if your company doesn’t align itself with celebrity culture, then it’s better to keep that follow to your own personal account.

A good brand influences behavior, and if you don’t want to dilute the value of your brand, it’s important to realize that the brand’s Twitter page (and Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram pages) are extensions of the brand identity.  In many ways, it’s like aligning yourself with the people you believe you are aligned with – and just because a million people may identify with your brand, it doesn’t necessarily mean your brand needs to cater to them.

Perhaps when the Twitterverse was smaller, it may have made more sense to follow each person who followed you or your brand.  But, with more than 200 million active users as of this month, it’s easy for bigger brands to get lost in the haze.  Imagine being Lady Gaga and trying to follow each of your 39 million followers.  Even she follows some 136,000 people, which seems to me like it would make it hard to sift through the noise.

Another trend that we’ve seen marketers attempt in order to be more successful on Twitter is the practice of buying followers.  All over the internet, people are eager to help businesses raise their Twitter fan bases by purchasing followers at an agreed-upon sum.  However, our team of genuine marketing experts frowns upon this practice because ultimately it doesn’t matter who your followers are if they’re not quality, and are not actively engaging with you.  Additionally, while some people assume that buying followers will help bolster their credibility, in actuality there are now a variety of social media tools that help shed light on fake followers.

If you are looking for more ideas and ways to establish a strong brand presence on Twitter, follow our Florida advertising agency at @BIGEYEagency.

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