Jan 29

Twitter Followers Are Not Avatars, They Are Real People

This morning, I noticed that a Turkish columnist who started following me and who I followed back unfollowed me (tongue twister of the day:) Then I went to friendorfollow and saw that a couple of Turkish professors did the same. First they follow people, then people follow them back and then they unfollow people.

Is this a kind of a strategy???

If you are a public figure, I can understand that you prefer a one-way communication style (or whatever it is called) and people who are interested in what you say happily follow you without expecting to be followed back.

But I think this “follow-get followed-unfollow” strategy is so ugly.

What might be the reasons of this so-called strategy? What kind of psychology lies behind it?

Any ideas?


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  1. Joel Josephson

    It sounds like the, ‘I’v got more followers than you, syndrome’. I would imagine these same people may have large American cars, big houses, big debts. Nothing like a couple of wild assumptions for a Tuesday morning.

    You could also take it as a compliment that you are important or influential enough on Twitter to merit their attention.

  2. Aysegul Salli

    Hi Burcu,
    I agree with Joel. I think they are just interested in number of followers they have, not the ideas of people who they follow. We see such ‘academics’ around. They are the ones who are after publishing articles and attending conferences but not actually producing much.

  3. alexis

    I guess they are looking for people to follow them but they only want to follow a few or certain people. So it is a strategy. I think it is kind of ugly as they are not interested in what you have to say, but want you to be interested in what they say!?
    Did you unfollow them?

  4. suelyonjones

    The official name for this is ‘churning’, I believe. It’s a strategy used by people who want to gain lots of followers in a bid to make themselves look popular. Twitter imposes limits on how people you can follow in relation to your follower count, which is why churners drop people who follow them back a short while afterwards.

    IMO, it’s bad social media manners when people do this kind of thing intentionally, though it’s worth bearing in mind that people sometimes sign up to services that automate certain aspects of twitter without reading the small print, and that twitter itself has the odd ‘hiccup’ from time to time and occasionally unfollows people on your behalf without asking first, also :-)

  5. Leo

    Wow, what a great idea! How come I haven’t thought of that before?!

  6. Gita

    It seems funny whatever the aim is, but this is another interesting, worth to be observed and analyzed human behaviour, once existed in the real world in different forms, but now it shows itself in technology… I guess numbers have come back into fashion…:-)

  7. Kiwi Belma

    Best way to quench their vanity is at : twittercount.com so that they can just watch the counter go up, instead of taking part in a professional conversation 😉

  8. serpil

    Hi Burcu,

    I liked your blog, congratulations. It is a good example of using web2.0 tools in education.

    The situation that you mentioned is not smart, and I agree with you. The main idea of following someone on social media is to learn something new, sharing, connecting, etc. If a person presents that kind of behavior, it shows that he/she did not get the main point of using social media.

    Bests, and greetings from North Carolina

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