Yesterday I wrote a piece examining the reasons for and against deleting Facebook Fans from your Page. At the end of the piece, I conclude that most businesses probably don't need to spend additional resource to manage potential fake fans.
My initial thought about Twitter was the same. Despite the preponderance of sites (StatusPeople, Social Bakers, and Twitter Audit as examples) that will reveal the number of fake fans for Twitter accounts, nobody checks those sites and even when caught there are a couple of lines of reasoning to deny that fake followers are the responsibility of the businesses in question.
However, there is a fairly common situation on Twitter that would necessitate deleting Twitter connections.... but it has very little to do with fake accounts.
The case against deleting Twitter connections
Twitter is an inefficient medium to communicate with an audience.
The average user has 208 followers, spends almost thirteen minutes on the platform, and the sends two tweets per day, 46% of people log in once per day. That means that at least 54% of messages aren't seen, and each tweet is about 0.5% of a user's daily queue. This is why a click-through rate of 1.67% isn't unusual. The point that I want to make about Twitter is that it is not only inefficient to communicate in, but it is also resource intensive to try and manage.
I love using ManageFlitter for new account discovery and pruning (more on that later), but it still takes a lot of time to vet whether an account is congruent or incongruent to what you want to accomplish. At some point I find myself wondering whether I'm spending too much time chasing mundane pursuits. For the most part, I conclude that I am.
The inefficiency of communicating on Twitter doesn't diminish its value, though. Twitter's low barrier to entry gives it two huge benefits: as a vehicle for social care (customer service delivered via social) and as a secondary source for PR / marketing distribution. You don't need to prune your Twitter followers to accomplish these.
As with Facebook, one of the biggest benefits of a large Twitter following is the social proof that the number implies. It is a vanity metric for sure, but one that imparts some meaning to customers. If you delete suspicious connections on Twitter, you also diminish the power of the follower count number. The more I see businesses use Twitter, the more I believe the number itself to be meaningful in this way.
The case for deleting Twitter connections
One of my favorite tools for Twitter management is SocialBro (disclosure: they gave me a free account after I declared my love for their product many times). SocialBro sends me a report every day that tells me whether my follower count is up or down. It is constantly in flux.
The reason for this fluctuation is that many people want to be Twitter stars, which is to say that they want to have significantly more followers than people that they follow. It's stupid and it's rampant, and the way that people accomplish this is by following an account until they are followed back and then unfollowing. The net effect over time is to creates an illusion that they are interesting yet disinterested, but they probably could accomplish the same goals by buying followers.
And after all of that gamesmanship, they really don't have too much interesting stuff to say.
Where this game gets problematic for businesses is when you have exceeded 2000 follows. Beyond 2000, Twitter allows you to follow 10% more people than follow you. And when enough people play this follow/unfollow game with you then you lose capability to follow people other accounts. The discrepancy in follows and unfollows that these folks generate potentially hurts the accounts that reciprocate their follows. For customer service purposes or good etiquette this is a problem. Purging people who don't follow you back and / or suspected fake accounts is one way to mitigate this. Tools like ManageFlitter, SocialBro and the fake follower sites mentioned above all have some sort of mechanism to identify and delete these.
My point with all of this is that the return on Twitter is probably not enough to justify spending a lot of resource to cull Twitter followers.... unless fake followers and spammers are inhibiting your capability to utilize Twitter properly.
What do you think?