It is a fact that the social media gives individuals rush for those likes, shares and followers. But how does a new individual or small business get noticed in a horde of marketing and celebrities. They usually take the follow and unfollow people who don’t follow back route. This has often proven to be a widely accepted way of getting massive targeted followings. But wait, all of the popular social media have a limit to this behavior. It does help prevent people botting the network to rise the fame but people crave for the sense of fame, they’ll take fake fame as well. As we explored with many test cases and scenarios, we found that they begin to dislike an account when it begins to unfollow people rather than just following on.
In a sense, people like getting followed by strangers and the whole social network rush is showing off the number of the followers you gain. These sites know that, so they usually have a higher tolerance for people following people rather than unfollowing. And as the time if you keep on unfollowing people, even low numbers, you begin to run into troubles, roadblocks, and even temporary and permanent bans.
Well some might say, you probably weren’t doing it properly or you were doing too much of it, or it never happened to me. If you think about it and keep up to date with the news, there are times when the social sites purge the fake accounts. This is often done to show how much they care about spam on their platform before any major event or social/media outcry. But they often let it be because fake followers still give people sense of accomplishment. These fake accounts often follow huge number of users and but have very little followers. Even the president of the United States complains about losing fake followers.
For small businesses and individuals, there’s no other way to do the traditional “follow and unfollow” routine till there’s active engagement and exposure. Our limited research shows that if you start following people, brands, and celebrities, it’s all good. Follow as many people as you like, but if you begin to unfollow people, you will be on the watchlist.
As a test case, for Twitter we operated few python bots with Twitter API which used same exact setup to follow users with keyword filters and unfollow who don’t. The Twitter application was then marked as ‘read access only’ so it couldn’t do any automated tasks anymore. However, we then utilized another app to follow everyday, without unfollowing them through the same bot, it hasn’t triggered any spam traps yet. We utilize a different application to unfollow. May be that’s the difference, we can’t tell.
For Pinterest, a similar algorithm seems to be in place. It’s okay if you keep on following expecting them to follow you back. But if you decide to unfollow the people you get in their spam radar. And if you do that often, they’ll even ban your account.
Facebook doesn’t seem to be much concerned with this as people generally create business pages and groups for exposure, and pages or groups cannot follow other people expecting them to like back. We do not have data over Instagram, so we cannot comment on their algorithm bias for followers vs unfollowers.