Following Bots Gone Bad Is Hurting Your Brand

A word to the wise marketing on social media, many of the marketing bots you followed in the carefree innocent days of Twitter have become the online equivalent of mogwai fed after midnight.

Many of the accounts that used to post inspirational quotes between links to spam websites now spew violent, hateful tweets and tweets designed to artificially amplify societal divisions.

Since Twitter isn’t doing much to curtail these accounts some Twitter users are working to out these accounts.

When people who follow you visit the bot profiles to report and block, there is your smiling face next to their vitriol under “Followers you know”.

In the words of Marty Neumeier “Your brand is not what you say it is. It is what they say it is.”

While the mind might take a moment to consider, “this person probably followed this account when it was benign and doesn’t realize it has gone bad because thy follow tens of thousands of account and can’t possibly know what each is posting”

The gut says, “Huh, person who says they are about luxury travel or motivating people to their greatest potential is following an account posting hateful violent tweets.”

If your account is following tens of thousands of accounts finding and unfollowing bots gone bad is a challenge. If I were writing the classic marketer post the title would be “Ten Twitter Accounts to Unfollow Right Now!”

The reality of social media isn’t that simple. There are tens of thousands of these accounts. As they are outed and reported the are temporarily suspended or permanent banned by Twitter. An account that is here today may be gone tomorrow and back again the next day.

At this writing I have not found a great automated solution to scan for weaponized profiles. Tackling this problem for your account requires time and attention. Is it worth the effort? This is a question every person who uses social media for marketing must weigh.

 What Level of Leadership Will You Take On?

The weaponization of social media is a critical issue in our society right now. If your account has tens of thousands of followers (even accounting for evil bots) you have the platform to spread education and contribute to counteracting these destructive tactics.

Your profile could take on leadership on this issue and share with your followers the information that many Twitter profiles from the early days of #TeamFollowBack have become weaponized. Or it could stay in the comfortable bubble of tweeting platitudes from Zig Ziglar while Twitter burns.

Redefine success on Twitter

If you block bots your follower count will drop. Is a higher follower body count worth giving amplification to weaponized profiles?

With the recent outing of the open secret of purchased followers to the general public high follower counts are losing their perceived value if large numbers of those followers are fake, bot and stolen identity accounts.

As social media users become more and more annoyed by spam, fake and bot accounts people with high follower counts of these kinds of profiles will lose credibility. Now is a good time to start clearing the trash accounts from your profile.

A Few Ways to Get Started

Manage Flitter has some sort options to identify and unfollow likely spam, bot and fake accounts.

Follow @conspirator0  and @josh_emerson  they do the hard work to unmask bot accounts. When they post threads unmasking bot accounts check the accounts to see if you are following or if people you know are following.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road on leadership. At the bare minimum report and block the accounts. If you want to step up to taking the lead on weeding the Twitter garden contact the “people you know” following the account to alert them. Share with your followers that you have reported and blocked the accounts and encourage them to do the same.

Scan through your feed now once in a while. Are you following accounts now spewing hatred and violence? How does that content align with your brand? You can tell yourself following does not equal endorsement. But you can’t tell other users’ guts that.

New hostile agent accounts are constantly appearing as well. Going forward take a moment to vet accounts before following back.

photo: flickr