The splash I’m talking about is abandoning the practice of autofollowing on Twitter. For those of you who don’t know what auto-follow is, why are you reading this blog?
I keeed I keeed!
Autofollow is quite simply Twitter’s version of “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.” For every person that follows you, you automatically follow them back.
Obviously the goal of many people on Twitter, especially marketers, is to accumulate as many followers as possible. As a result, lists have sprung up containing the names of hundreds if not thousands of accounts that use autofollow. Follow a few thousand of the people on that list, and BOOM… a few thousand almost instant followers!
If this whole thing sounds kind of pointless and shallow, especially on a site that’s all about actually connecting with others, you’re absolutely right. As John points out in his post, a bunch of automated followers probably aren’t going to be as high in quality as followers that CHOOSE to follow you.
As a result, John (and subsequently Mike) have both disavowed the practice of auto-follow, and purged the list of people they follow, citing the desire to now have genuine interactions on Twitter.
And, for the most part the move has been praised across Twitter. John’s post has been retweeted by thousands of his followers and….
Wait, what? Oh yeah! That’s right! John and Mike, despite no longer following thousands of people, are STILL followed by all those thousands of people who jumped aboard the autofollow Twitter train. Who knows, maybe John and Mike made use of those autofollow lists themselves.
The point is, by making this noble and bold decision, John and Mike have essentially done one big bait & switch on thousands of their followers.
If anyone else followed thousands of people, and then unfollowed them once they’d triggered the autofollow mechanism, they’d be call a spammer.
In fact, Twitter itself stated in March that they’re going to kill off the “feature” because
” this behavior sends the wrong message. Namely, it is unlikely that anyone can actually read tweets from thousands of accounts which makes this activity disingenuous.”
So, no, John Reese and Mike Filsaime are no longer participating in the “disingenuous” activity of autofollow, but before we all go praising them for their brilliant insight and sudden desire to make legitimate connections, realize that they still have 66 thousand followers between them.
They’re not giving ANYTHING up, they’re simply clearing out the feed that they read and limiting the level of access those 66k followers have to contact them.
I’m sure that was a really difficult decision. I mean, as Mike said, John had to “push him over the edge” after all…