In a bid to avoid spam and malicious content and automation, Twitterhas decided to delete all ‘locked’ accounts from its platform. A ‘locked’ account is one that the social media platform has locked over the years due to “sudden changes in account behaviour”. This change in account behaviour could include tweeting of a large number of unsolicited replies or mentions, sharing misleading links, or if a large number of accounts blocked the account.
This ‘Twitter purge’ has resulted in many leaders and celebrities losing their followers, in many cases to the tune of lakhs. This just goes on to prove how compounded and large scale is the problem of fake accounts and automated accounts in the world of digital.
Often hailed to be a medium that can actually be measured, digital is also plagued by the problem of credibility. Bots, buying of likes and clicks are all criticisms that the medium has had to face. How will this step by Twitter to crack down on fake and automated accounts affect brands, digital agencies and the latest buzz word in the industry – influencer marketing?
The general consensus is that the move is a step in the right direction.
“I think this move is in the best interest of Twitter and the brands and agencies as well. All these bot and locked accounts were not adding anything to the brand or the agencies. Yes, there will be some dip in the reach that brands might have had before but I think most brands will be happy because now they can know that the kind of advertising they do on Twitter is measurable and they are reaching real people and becoming more effective,” said Gopa Kumar, Executive Vice-President, Isobar India.
“Twitter is doing nothing but something it has to, clean up its junkyard! It's key to establish trust and transparency, so these moves by Twitter only help establish its authenticity more and same goes for all influencers,” said Pranay Swarup, CEO and Co-founder, Chtrbox. “For a brand, it's more embarrassing for them to have a few million followers but get no engagements and positive chatter going v/s have lesser number of authentic followers. 'Number of engaged users' and 'people talking about them' are more important metrics to chase,” said Swarup.
Marketer Neeraj Chaturvedi feels that this will just be an added push for brands that have created their follower base organically.
“In real terms, this move by Twitter will not have any negative impact on brands. On the other hand, as far as quality of interaction is concerned, it will only improve. Personally, I think it is a good thing. For brands that have built their follower base organically, this just reinforces the message that that is the right way to build a following on any social media channels,” said Chaturvedi.
Weighing on the oldest digital conundrum, Axon Alex, Head, Strategy, The 120 Media Collective, said, “On one hand, digital has this advantage of being able to be tracked and measured but on the other hand, there has always been this undercurrent of mistrust that these numbers aren’t what they are. So, this is a huge step forward in that respect because it makes the platform a lot more trustworthy. Hopefully, more brands will want to invest in the platform now that they know that the platform itself is taking these steps to ensure that there are real people. Businesses may now start looking beyond the vanity metrics of high follower count and actually go into engagement rates, which is lot more important.”
Commenting on the impact this move will have on digital agencies, Alex said it will make brands more confident of the platform.
“For us, this just makes a better case telling brands to spend money on promoting content. With the problem of fake accounts and bots, hoping for organic content is too much. Now you can tell brands that these are real people and you need to promote content,” said Alex.
The people that the move might affect the most are social media influencers. Influencers who get paid for their follower base might get affected because of the dip in their number.
“The whole influencer marketing ecosystem grew so rapidly that the only metric that was actually looped in was the number of followers an influencer had. But now that everybody is aware of these fake accounts and bots, clients will now want to know whether these followers are real people. Influencers will have to fall in line. So, some fake influencers will go away and genuine influencers will thrive,” said Kumar.
Agreeing with the point, Chaturvedi said, “For influencers who have built their influencer base organically, this will have a positive impact. People who have used grey or black hats to build their base, their market value will fall. Brands pay influencers so that they can help them reach their fanbase, so if the fanbase itself doesn’t exist then there is no point.”
Alex is of the view that influencers should start looking at themselves as businesses.
“What we do here as an agency is try and create an influencer index that looks at the impact of these influencers from a business and marketing standpoint. I think more agencies also need to start doing that and more influencers also need to start to look at themselves as businesses. After a point, the vanity metrics like follower count is not as important as the engagement rate. I think this Twitter purge that is happening makes the business a lot more credible,” said Alex.
Shedding light on the fact that much of influencer marketing happens on Instagram, Rana Handa, Chief Business Officer, POPxo, said, “People who genuinely rely on influencer marketing do it more for their Instagram handles. Twitter in India, from a paid marketing perspective, is not really large enough yet. Therefore, I do not think it will make such an impact on brands.”
All and all this looks like good news for all the parties involved.
“Overall, this is a really positive move by Twitter and will only help influencers, influencer marketing agencies and platforms like us, and social media platforms create better results and impact for brands,” said Swarup.