skip to main content

Ideas
Snowbird unfollowed 7,184 people and…

divider image for this post

A few weeks ago Dave Amirault gave the best heads up a nerdy, number-crunching marketer could ask for.

He tweeted me this:

I was stoked. But before I go on, some backstory.

Catch 22
One of the things I’ve always loved to test is the idea of the value of following someone on Twitter. Because, among other upsides, a follow holds two bits of power over the person you follow:

  • Dopamine: it makes someone feel good.
  • Follower Growth: a % of people you follow will reciprocate.

Abuse the first in the quest for the second, and the dopamine goes away (being 1 in 1,000,000 isn’t always a good thing). Likewise, focus too much on the first and you can’t scale the second (following 100 can only lead to so many reciprocal followers).

It’s an interesting conundrum. But one that’s changed drastically over the years.

Then vs Now
Back in the day, following was the craze because following was reciprocated. As many as 30-35% of the people you followed would return the favor. Likewise, if you unfollowed everyone in your account about an equal number (20-25%) would stop following you back.

Today is very different. Only around 5% of people you follow will follow you back.

All of these numbers had come from my own tests over the years. But the one thing I had never done is, in modern-day Twitter, unfollowed a large number of people. Even more, I had never done it from the account of an established brand. So, in this era when following/unfollowing volume has slowed to a trickle, what would happen?

Take a look.

Snowbird Daily Follower Growth
Let’s make this a game, shall we?

I’ve hidden the dates below. I want you to guess which bar on this chart represents the day when Snowbird unfollowed those 7,184 people.

snowbirddailynew

Go it?

Make a few guesses if you’d like.

Ready?

Okay, I’ve made that day orange on this chart.

snowbirddailynewafter

Was there a mass exodus? No. There was no difference at all. On the contrary, when you compare that day to the days preceeding it was actually a little above average.

The spike after it was probably more a result of Snowbird magic than unfollowing 7,000 people, but it simply supports the case that unfollowing people – even many people – makes very little impact on who does/doesn’t follow you.

Upsides
There are many upsides to this, but among my favorites are the fact that each follow Snowbird now makes carries a little more weight simply because it’s a little more rare. It’s a little dopamine-dripper they can keep in the back pocket when necessary.

But it also makes Snowbird’s following:follower ratio look much, much better. And by better I mean much less spammy or “following just so people follow me back” which, and I’m speaking from experience, is not a road you want to go down. And much better aligns with a brand like Snowbird

It’s an interesting test and result, but it is isolated.

So, if any of you get inspired by Dave’s actions and decide to do it yourself, please, with all the nerdiness I can infuse into a plea, let me know.



  • Eric Wagnon

    Just checked- Snowbird still follows me. I feel honored– thanks Dave. :) My question though is how did he decide which 7,184 to unfollow. (Snowbird still follows 8,428.)

    • Nate Parr

      Eric, I’d be careful with the questions… The opposite side to the dopamine-drip of the rare follow, is the threat to unfollow. Dave’s power grows daily.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab42e4a08a6d913f3fee5238d4cb4489a14955a0011220a90563fe7fb30c6a60.gif

      • Eric Wagnon

        Yes the force is strong with the DigiDave!

    • While I won’t ask Digi to divulge his recipe, I’d imagine it’s a combination of accounts that don’t follow back and inactive accounts. Either way, he’s hinted at another purge coming so will have to revisit after he does.

      • Here’s the secret sauce…
        – Accounts that do not follow back.
        – Accounts that have a mutual follow but are inactive.
        – Accounts that have a bad follow to follower ratio.
        – Accounts that I just don’t like.

        You can search Github for a zillion scripts that will help you handle this. Select the one written in the programming language of your choice. Or, manually do it. (Don’t do that, it will take way too long.)

    • Lexi Dowdall

      Phew me too! Safe for now.

Never miss a post.

Subscribe to the weekly SlopeFillers digest and get new jobs, posts, stories, and more right in your inbox every Friday morning.

Stories