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Is Your Twitter App Creating Negative Social Proof?

Dominoes - Twitter Apps that Cause Negative Social ProofLike dominoes falling once you tap that very first one, most people follow the actions of the majority – an unstoppable tide of chain reaction.

Especially when it involves influencers. They assume if an influencer – or what looks like the majority – are doing something, then it must be the right thing to do. Good or bad.

Called social proof, people are apt to make quick decisions based on what other people are doing… following the assumption that popularity equals valuable information.

For example, if an article is highly shared, others are far more likely to also share that article. After all, if the influencer finds the article important or interesting, then it must be so.

Lots of likes or comments on a Facebook article? Others are more likely to like or comment, too.

It’s the social media equivalent of peer pressure.

A perfect example of a brand leveraging social proof are major publishers (such as Mashable and Forbes) who showcase the number of shares, likes and/or views for each post or article. They are hoping that a popular article will generate even more popularity.

But social proof isn’t always positive – worse than neutral or not using it at all, it can be negative.

Four Apps That Can Create Negative Social Proof

If you aren’t diligent and paying attention to details, the following two issues can unintentionally create negative social proof.  Be sure to watch for them if you or your clients use one or more of the following five apps, or similar ones.

ISSUE ONE: Watch for automatically generated URLs that aren’t appropriate to the circumstance.

That first impression is important, and how you greet new followers can make a major difference in how the relationship evolves.  Friend management platforms like  are designed to help you identify who to follow and who has unfollowed you, but they can be unintentionally damaging if they make inappropriate changes to your tweets or direct messages.

Just Unfollow MeThis is especially true for free apps who try to infuse their brand into your activity.

On a side note –> while knowing who to follow is an important piece of building your Twitter platform, WHO CARES who has unfollowed you? I’ve never heard a solid arguement for this. Are you going to start stalking them? Send them dead roses? It doesn’t really matter… and knowing can even cause ill will or resentment.

Opinion aside, whether or not you find value in stats like this is a personal decision based on your own unique needs.  I do not consider it an important metric.

For this particular app, the URL is a problem.

If you use it to send out automated messages to new followers (can I just say “yuck?“), it puts the URL in your tweet.  It’s a direct invitation for your new friend to unfollow you.

Like a giant red flag, it says “Are you sure you want to follow me? Perhaps you should just take a moment to rethink that decision.

It’s like greeting a new friend, then smacking them in the face. Yikes. How is that helpful?

Use the tool if you will, but disable that particular feature. No matter how you word the message included with the link, it’s costing you followers because it’s unfriendly and anti-social.

Besides, automated tweets are like wearing last week’s dirty socks – there’s just no way to dress up that pig and make it attractive. Don’t do it. Resist. Invest a few minutes to personally thank new followers, even if it is selectively done based on their influence or geography, or do nothing at all. That’s perfectly fine. If you must do automated greetings, include a powerful  value-add, not a lame call-to-action about liking you on other social platforms or wanting to get to know them better. How can that seem authentic when it’s automated?  It’s very trite.

Are you cannibalizing your social media activity? I see it almost every day. People innocently sign up for a Twitter app that “makes it easier to manage their followers,” not realizing it is tweeting information on their behalf that acts like an enormous squirt of follower repellent.

ISSUE TWO: Don’t announce follows, unfollows or other audience statistics.

Three examples of apps that do this include Tweepi, Sumall and Unfollowers. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these three apps. They can be very useful. But for heaven’s sake, pay attention to what you allow it to tweet for you.

DON’T opt-in to tweet your statistics. Touting your weekly follows, unfollows and reach has absolutely no value for your audience. At best, it is an egotistical bit of bragging that attempts to drive social proof that can just as easily backfire.Don't tweet your new followers and unfollow stats

What if your unfollows far outweigh your follows? It influences someone to either unfollow you or simply not become a new follower when they see it in your stream. Or what if your number of new follows is extremely low? Suddenly you are creating negative social proof.

After all, if all of those people didn’t like your tweets and nobody follows you, you must suck, right? See ya.

And why announce forced unfollows – that always strikes me as ridiculous. Is it a threat? How is that beneficial to anyone?

Even larger brands make this mistake, too, depending on how experienced the community manager might be and how closely activity is monitored. Tweets like this one may demonstrate nice reach numbers, but it also showcases a complete lack of engagement. Three mentions? One reply? Hardly impressive or inspiring. How does it create  value of any kind for your audience? It doesn’t.

Be sure to monitor your activity from the perspective of your audience. It can be very enlightening.

ISSUE THREE: Don’t thank followers for being top engaged members of your community when they only engaged with you once.

This is a particular pet peeve of mine, and is the worst example. I constantly get tagged in tweets thanking me for being a “Top Engaged Member” of someone’s community when I don’t know them. We were ships crossing in the night in some small fashion. I don’t follow them and they don’t follow me, but they retweeted a single tweet during my Twitter chat. Or they follow me and commented on my tweet. Once. If someone doesn’t engage with you on a more substantial level, you are broadcasting to them that YOU DON’T HAVE a community. You are boasting that they engaged with you in a meaningful way, when it didn’t really happen.

The intent is good, I think, to thank someone if they helped you in some small fashion. But if engagement is what social media is all about, then isn’t thanking someone for some small piece of engagement kind of like thanking them for being on social media in the first place?

It comes across like giving yourself a pat on the back for getting someone to engage with you – showcasing a lack of self-confidence and putting up a red flag saying, “See! My community is worth engaging in! Please come play with me!”

Recognize what really matters and who truly helps you, but keep the self-centered tweets away from your activity. Returning the engagement is a much higher form of compliment. So retweet something from those who engage with you, leave a comment on their blog, be REAL about how you engage. That’s thanks enough.

Any other apps to add? Disagree with my opinion? Feel free to add your two cents worth.

Want more on this topic? I like these articles on social proof:

  1. 7 Things You Must Understand When Leveraging Social Proof by @KissMetrics
  2. Social Proof Is The New Marketing by TechCrunch
  3. 10 Ways To Amplify Social Proof  by @Hubspot


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