Reasons why you should care about spam followers

MashableMashable has been getting a very strong response to the story they ran earlier today (“Twitter correcting follower counts: 1000s of spammers perish“) regarding Twitter’s recent cull of spam accounts. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who takes an interest in who is following them.

The surge in spam followers that has occurred over the last couple of months has been a blight afflicting Twitter to which people have reacted in one of two ways.

On the one hand, there are those Twitter users that claim not to pay a great deal of attention to who follows them, and are more interested in finding people to follow. On the other, there are those that consider the presence of spam followers to diminish the value that Twitter brings to them, and that they can reciprocally deliver to their community.

The reasons that I have seen stated for ignoring spam followers rather than actively culling them include:

I haven’t got the time to review who follows me

I don’t really pay that much attention to who follows me

Any follower is a good follower. They’re +1 to my stats

I don’t think any of these are valid reasons. Here’s why:

Twitter has the potential to facilitate effective professional communications in an informal and enjoyable manner.

It is enabled by trust.

It is a trust enabler.

You must choose whether your participation in Twitter will augment or diminish that potential.

Consider the following scenario:

Someone working within a scientific, technical, medical or publishing community encounters my Twitter account. They read my bio. Nothing to put them off there, I hope. They review some of my recent tweets. Hopefully they’ll dip into my feed at a point where they will encounter the 85% of my content that considers, assesses, and promotes the use of social media in connecting scientific, technical and medical professionals rather than the 15% of wibble, whisky, miscues, and bad jokes.

I’d hope at this point that they are beginning to think that I may add some value to their Twitter feed, and are contemplating following me.

They then turn to my follows and followers to see who I follow, and who follows me. I find great value in reviewing other users’ follows in determining whether I want to follow them or not. However, let’s say that this hypothetical potential followers clicks on my followers first in order to discern who else has thought it worth their while to follow me in the recent past.

What do you want them to encounter? A roster of reciprocally followed professionals from the verticals that you work in, or a selection of “sex and dollars” spammers?

What does it say about the authenticity of the values you espouse in the posts you spend a good deal of time composing across your portfolio of online presences if you won’t take a few minutes every day on behalf of your current and potential future followers in order to ensure that your credentials aren’t being compromised by spammers who belittle your community by hanging on to its coattails?

If you don’t want to review your followers and block those that don’t belong there for yourself, then do it for your community.

You don’t have the time not to.

2 thoughts on “Reasons why you should care about spam followers

  1. Agreed, clearly it doesn’t say much about the authenticity of your values if you don’t block spam and instead allow clients, colleagues and anyone else with a Twitter account to see it.

    I‘d add that surely for an individual it’s also insulting to keep the ‘sex and dollars’ followers. I don’t want to see them and certainly don’t want to give them publicity.

    For companies it’s worse, because it also chips away at their brand value – assuming they’re not in the market for pyramid schemes.

    Twitter’s spam account cull hasn’t come a moment too soon.

  2. Pingback: The anatomy of Twitter: an 8 point strategic guide « STweM

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