Do you find it easy to know who to follow on social media? Do you look at the number of Twitter followers someone has before you decide to follow? Do you check their feeds to see if they post funny or interesting tweets? According to a study done by Isobar, a digital company, and a research team from Cambridge University, the accounts you follow on Twitter are pre-determined without you even thinking about it. Proof of social stability is given to you within a second thus boosting your choice to follow or not.
During the duration of the study they performed social testing to see exactly what factors caused people to follow accounts on social media. The group set up a completely phony account for a brand of fictitious clothing that they proclaimed was about to debut. Once they had the account set up and ready to go, they began to tweet and had people follow them.
They closely monitored how the number of followers on the clothing brand account page was able to sway people. They noted that even with a larger following people in general did not necessarily state that they liked the clothing brand better, but it did cause people to trust the brand even though it was entirely fictitious. Think about it like this. You go on vacation and you want to take your family or friends out to dinner yet you have no idea where the really good restaurants are. During the study, Isobar stated that when people see a restaurant that is full of people they naturally think the restaurant must be one of the best for dining. In regards to Twitter followers, the same thing seems to apply.
Unfortunately there are hundreds of websites around the globe that are set up for people to buy Twitter followers, thus making it virtually impossible to know whether an account is truly popular or legitimate, or if the account holder paid for the thousands of followers on their profile. To buy a Twitter follower is somewhat of a double edged sword so to speak. On one hand, you have to pay for people to follow you on social media, yet on the other hand it increases your proposed reliability with the general public when they see large numbers following your account.
Isobar also studied how the overall tone of the clothing brand page affected followers. They set the account up in a variety of ways using humorous, serious and accountable bios. The accountable bio was set up to recommend that people donate to specific charities they listed on their profile page. The humorous and serious bios were able to gain more followers that recommended the brand to others.
Recommendations aside, the serious bio gained more trust from followers with a rating of 24% while the humorous bio had a trust rating of 20% and the accountable bio had only a 15% trust score. Isobar concluded that when companies speak of charitable organizations, their own trust scores may plummet.
For a final thought, according to social etiquette, a person should follow anyone that follows them first. For companies however, this can be damaging to their reputation. According to the study results, trust scores dropped when the company began to follow more than 1000 profiles. To the average social media user, companies that follow massive amounts of people tend to look as if they are just trying to get others to follow their accounts and it makes them look less reliable. If you don’t care if your followers trust you, but you want to make sure they like you, then the best advice is this: Follow as many as possible and keep your tweets productive, interesting and engaging at all times.