twitter-follow-testWith the release of their new API, Twitter has dropped the option to automatically follow everybody who is following you. And even though that might seem like an annoying change, it really is not. And I will tell you why.

Since the beginning of Twitter it has been possible to use online tools to extend your Twitter experience. Some, like Hootsuite, allow you to track twitter activity better and helps you respond to it. Some others allow you to do special things with your account. But as ever, the power to extend on Twitter is easily abused. Which was the case with followers tools. These are tools like Tweetadder and the likes. They promise you easy followers to boost your numbers. They did that by having their tool follow people to get them to follow back. And the same tools automated the follow back process, so that their users would boost each others’ numbers. And for the people that judge the success of their Twitter account by their follower numbers, that was heaven.

However, judging any social media account by its numbers is a very bad idea. After all, these numbers tell you nothing about what is valuable in a social network. Reach and engagement are interesting figures to watch on a social media account. They can potentially determine your influence. But those numbers can not be derived from the follower numbers you see on your Twitter homepage. Compare it to your church. In many churches, it is an unfortunate reality that there are many more people registered to belong to the church than come on every Sunday. So your church might have 2,500 members on paper, but if only 25 show up on any given Sunday, the figures are useless. The same goes for social media. It is not the amount of people who are following you, it is their engagement with you that determines the success of your social media channel. It is all about the relationships you have been able to build.

And then there is another problem with automatic following. A problem that you need to address if you are managing your Twitter account. If you have had automatic following at any point, go through your followers carefully. Because one of the strategies for Twitter accounts with adult content has been to follow anyone who easily follows back. That boosted their numbers. But lets face it, following an adult Twitter account does look rather funny on a Twitter account for a Christian organization or a church. After all, a lot of people look at who you follow to determine who you are. So, a safe thing to do is to go through your followers every once in a while, just to see who are there. After all it can happen to the best of us. Recently even Citibank was spotted following adult channels. Not something you want to have happen to your Twitter account.