Twitter Embarrassment

Twitter Embarrassment

People use Twitter for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a way to promote a product, skill or business. For others it’s a tool to share interesting links or makes quips about celebrities in the news (yes, Charlie Sheen, I’m talking about you). One trend that surprises me is the use of Twitter to attempt to embarrass complete strangers.

OK, maybe “embarrass” is a strong word, but I haven’t quite figured out what to call it. I’m referring to the practice of calling out users publicly that stop following you. There are a host of services that will do this, but the latest platform I’m seeing is called Fllwrs. Essentially, it’s a service people sign up for using their Twitter credentials to be notified when users stop following them. It then posts an update to your Twitter stream calling those users out. I seem to be getting one or two mentions a week calling me out via Fllwrs. It doesn’t particularly bother me, but I thought I’d a dig a little deeper into this practice and the implications of it.

First, let’s take a look at a business that is using Fllwrs:

Caucus World is a social media business based in London. They claim to “develop deeper insight through engagement and participation.” Hmmm OK. I’m curious as to how they do that. If their Twitter stream is any indication of their methods, I’d say they’re not very good. First off, the have a total of three tweets in five weeks time – that’s not a lot of engagement or participation. Second, those three tweets aren’t even real human updates – they’re automated jabs at people that have unfollowed CaucusWorld using Fllwrs. Again, I have to ask how this fosters engagement and participation?

As a business, what is the purpose of using Fllwrs and calling out those that have stopped following you? Are you looking to embarrass those users? To what end? Are you hoping that by calling them out, they’ll be guilted into following you again?

Let’s step back and think about what message that sends to the world about your brand. First, it seems to suggest that you are petty, shortsighted and punitive. Second, and more importantly, it advertises to the masses that your Twitter stream is so mundane and lacking in value that people are regularly unfollowing you. Is that the message you want to send?

Granted, most of the accounts that I found using Fllwrs and similar services are individuals and not businesses. I would argue that speaks to your personal brand in a powerful way as well. I would argue the same points I mentioned above apply to an individual as well as a larger corporate entity.

Maybe I’m missing something here – I gave you several solid reasons why you shouldn’t be using tools like this to call out and embarrass people, but maybe someone can give me a reason why you SHOULD be doing this? I don’t see a single upside beyond a fleeting moment of satisfaction and stroked ego around calling someone out, but maybe there’s something I’m missing. What say you Twitterati?

  • Wow – all I can say is WOW! Unfortunately the mad dash to make money in Social Media marketing this kind of stuff is not that surprising though. Its one thing to use the service to see who’s un-followed your account to gage your “interest level” based off of your followers – but this is simply a joke. There needs to be more exposure to the bullhockey and malarky these goons are trying to sell, rather than who has un-followed them. Good post!

    • Hi Nathan,

      You’re right in that social media is a cash cow buzz phrase these days and everyone with a Twitter account and a Flip camera fancies themselves a practitioner of all things social. CaucusWorld is clearly one such fly-by-night “business.” You’re also right that instead of focusing so much on who is unfollowing you, one should be more concerned with why.

  • Annie22ndrools

    I use fllwrs and I don’t get messages sent to my twitter stream

    •  What value do you find in using fllwrs? What data does it provide for you and how do you act on it?

  • FWAlexandr

    I googled to see what fllwrs was all about.  I like the idea of seeing who’s unfollowing me, because I follow too many people as lot is.  When someone follows me, in order to be nice, I follow them back.  I notice that some folks follow you, just to get you to follow them.  Then they unfollow you.  

  • Suecsw6

    You don’t have to embarrass anyone – just change your settings so the information isn’t made public on your Twitter feed. No need for this paranoia at all, keeping track of followers is quite useful. People follow and unfollow for all sorts of reasons. Agree with FWAlexandr.

  • Pingback: People’s obsession with followers and fllwrs | marcoRecorder()

  • Gvz Glasshouses

    There’s an easy way to use Fllwrs and not create the upset you suggest. I do it with this app and the pesky posts the Twitter publishes without my permission.

    All you have to do is scroll through the tweets and delete the ones you don’t want. The delete feature is found in the dropdown menu from the three dots under the post.