Twitter Experiment: Does Controversy Lead to Unfollows?

Short answer, not likely.

Long answer, not too long a while ago, I noticed a fellow Tweep of mine saying that four people unfollowed him since his last controversial statement, particularly regarding religion, and I was intrigued. I often see people post controversial statements, but I never unfollow, unless they prove to be batshit crazy, like a certain person I shall not name, but would be really obvious to anyone in the Jordanian Tweetosphere.

I wanted to experiment with my followers, and for that I must apologise to them. If I may explain, I always thought I had developed a followership out of good socialisation and willing interaction with folks, I don’t usually view them as numbers. When I do, I remember that they’re a number of people. I automatically block any bots or inactive business accounts, because I don’t want an inflated number of followers for no reason. (Shout Out: There’s an app for that, called Tweepi. I don’t do paid ads, but I like giving credit to free apps that I use on a regular basis.)

In all, I tried to stir some controversy in small doses for the past week. I went in the beginning with some brutal honesty directed at certain Tweeps, and then went a bit general, started linking to controversial articles, and eventually said a very rude, and slightly hateful tweet directed at a large portion of my followers. I have to apologise for that too. Here is a graph of my followers for the past week.

As you can see, I couldn’t even dent my meteoric rise to stardom. =P Ehrm, joking aside, things that might have influenced this graph is that I had live blogged a couple of events, which normally nets me followers, but there was no changes to the trends I normally see through such events. But then again, I attribute these results to my great followers. I like to believe that people follow me for more than just a shallow impression they have of me that can be whisked away by one controversial statement or another.

Therefore, my conclusion is, if you build a stable, loyal base of followers, which might take time, but you mostly needn’t worry about losing it if you voice a controversial opinion here or there. People mostly won’t bother unfollowing you unless you cause controversy on a regular basis, or go overboard and stir so much controversy in a subject that’s particularly sensitive among them. That will lose you a lot of followers, and might gain you a few, and you’ll end up with one end of a highly polarized readership.  In essence, stay loyal to your tweeps, stay true to yourself, but keep in mind who your followers are and you’ll end up with many great friends. =D

Author: Tarakiyee

I am a Jordanian Computer Engineer with a passion for the aesthetic and the awesome.

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