What’s up with Twitter follower behavior?

I am attempting to solve a Twitter account mystery where I could not find the answers online. I notice what appears to be either odd, unnatural behavior by Twitter followers or some irregularities in reporting Twitter follower counts. I simply do not know which. I simply notice that for an extended period of time this mystery remains unanswered.

Every day for the past several years Twitter sends me an email notice about new followers. Typically a few people follow each day. On the Twitter account page the notice looks like this:

twitter fllows.png

The followers tend to look ‘normal’. They are legitimate businesses and known individuals in my industry or otherwise related to my work. There is no evidence that the followers are spammers or have any other questionable interest.

twitter totals.png

Yet the total number of followers has been around 365 for about two years. Let me repeat that: the number of Twitter followers has not deviated from a range of 360-370 at any time in the past two years.  Quite remarkable. It goes up a few, down a few, but never changes from about the same number of 365+/- followers that I hit several years ago perhaps in 2012 or 2013. Meanwhile the number of people I follow tends to go up by a few per month as I find new interesting content publishers. I don’t recall ever “unfollowing” anybody.

So it appears that the exact same number of people unfollow me as follow me almost every day. How can this be possible and why would it be?

I read somewhere that some people will “unfollow” if they follow and a person does not follow them back. But there does not appear to be any obvious confirmation that this is what is happening with my account. If this is the case, it would make me wonder what the true purpose of “follow” is for these Twitter users. I hope that this post helps me track down some input from people who understand Twitter better than I do.

To state it another way:

Lets say I had 365 followers at the end of 2013, that I average 3 new followers per day in 2014 and 2015, that I recognize 2 of the 4 new followers by name from some other platform (like LinkedIn or Facebook) and that at the end of 2015 I still had 365 followers. So I am focused on understanding the behavior of those roughly 2100 who followed and then apparently unfollowed and I am not concerned with the original 365 where the majority of those might have been primarily “real life” business associates and friends and family.

Some related questions:

Since I recognize about half of the new followers by name, perhaps because we share a group in LinkedIn or some other similar exposure, is it incorrect to presume that they are following because they found some content useful or interesting?

Should I presume that the vast majority of new Twitter users follow and then quickly unfollow? If so doesn’t that negate the indication that content is significant in Twitter?

I have a hard time believing that the well known businesses (see the list today that I used as an example) that follow me are doing so only in hopes of gaining a new follower and that they see benefit in unfollowing quickly afterward. Is there other evidence that this is really the widespread Twitter behavior?

Do most Twitter users use some type of automated follow management program for this purpose of following and unfollowing?

Am I the last Mohican who follows an account on Twitter because I find the content useful or interesting?

How could it be possible that the exact (within 1 or 2) same number of people follow as unfollow for more than 700 consecutive days? This seems statistically impossible as an independent occurrence. It raises the suspicion that there is some other unstated factor influencing Twitter metrics.



One response to “What’s up with Twitter follower behavior?”

  1. […] As a result, my LinkedIn followers accumulated to 1,000 over the past two years. (I’ve written separately that the number of new Twitter “follows” is similar but for unknown reasons they drop […]

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