On January 31st, 2019, ManageFlitter had its Twitter API-access revoked. It threw an integral part of our social media strategy – follow/unfollow – off.
I started a policy of selectively following and unfollowing users based on the buyer personas of our customers. That means determining some demographic requirements:
- Geographical Location
- Number of Followers
- Number of Following
- Job title
Every day, I would follow users that fit HIPB2B’s profiles, based my knowledge of our clients. I would unfollow those who didn’t follow me back as well as unfollow users that don’t meet my criteria.
When ManageFlitter went down, our strategic plan just about went down with it. Ours and likely many others. We only used the free version of the tool, but it was an important part of our processes. The free version limited us to 30 unfollows a day, and we followed about that many people on Twitter daily.
Twitter’s layout is clunky and it makes the process of following/unfollowing time-consuming. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think I figured out the answer.
I started doing some sleuthing, trying to figure out what caused ManageFlitter and similar apps to have their API-access revoked simultaneously.
Here is what I’ve dug up:
Three major companies got their access revoked. You can look at updates on their situations here:
It all comes down to the excessive “follower churn” on social networks, caused by these apps, which allows users to follow and unfollow rapidly.
Twitter is constantly taking anti-spam measures and it appears that at least these three apps ( and likely some others) are now defined as spam. They’re looking to reduce the number of notifications created by mass follow/unfollow activities.
They have a 1000 action per day follow/unfollow limit. But there are also hourly rates that aren’t published by Twitter. Users that hit these rates might have their ability to follow or unfollow restricted for a time.
These are the emails that the three companies received:
Each of the got the same notice (and cleaned it differently for the public eye), and they were all shut down for the same things. While HIPB2B never used the bulk actions (we never paid for the application), that is a major way that all these companies made money.
Since it was overly aggressive follow churn, I decided to scour the internet for a follower management system that was still operational and didn’t allow for massive bulk follow/unfollow.
I found two free offerings with expansive features. I wish I had known about them before, that’s how good both of these are. They are:
These two apps streamline the interface to see who follows you back and who doesn’t. They don’t let you take bulk actions, which I think is why they’ve slipped away from Twitter’s scrutinizing eye.
CircleBoom is my favorite of the two tools. They give you an in-depth look at who you’re following, what you should send to these people, etc.
They don’t impose follow limits on you, but the pages even go so far as to make you refresh or go to the next page to see more options of who to unfollow. That’s a key here it seems. Twitter would not let StatusBrew recover the feature that makes a user disappear from the page once you’ve followed or unfollowed them.
It appears that that’s a measure Twitter takes to keep you from automating or following/unfollowing too rapidly.
I’ll b honest, I haven’t dug into this feature yet. But I’m very excited about it. I believe you can follow up to 8 feeds and then choose to let CircleBoom repost up to a max amount on your behalf.
I’m looking forward to seeing what that looks like.
Schedule a Tweet
This is a basic scheduling feature, which is nice that they include. I have yet to use it, but it looks nice and they give convenient advice from the Twitter about hashtags on the page.
There are 6 options in this section and all but one of them are included for free. Nice.
I’m not following back
This shows people that you might want to follow back. I really love being able to click the username and seeing this:
I can see if this person matches my targeting criteria. Then I decide whether to follow him back.
This feature allows you to plug in a similar account’s username to find out who their followers are.
You can do this with competitors or in verticals that run parallel with your own within an industry. The idea is, you pick accounts that will have a similar demographic breakdown as your own.
This is the same concept as the prior feature, except you plug in another username and see who that user is following. You can use this to find better fodder for content and new people to follow.
What we learn from this is:
- Followers – users that follow the specific user
- Friends – every user the specific user is following
The more you know.
This is like basic Twitter search on steroids. It allows you to input specific parameters for finding users to follow.
It helps you cover some of the important categories I mentioned above. How do they get away with this? You still have to follow the users manually.
You can also search for hashtags and keywords and follow based on that. Super handy and easier to use than Twitter’s native features.
This feature is a Pro feature.
Not following back
I like how one of the filtering options throughout is to give users some time to follow back before you unfollow. This reduces spammy following tactics.
This is another Pro feature.
This feature helps you sort out who doesn’t use Twitter. Inactive users don’t engage in content, so you’ll want to unfollow them in many cases.
These are the accounts that are spamming your feed, keeping you from seeing any meaningful content there.
I love the use of Eggheads. Most users who have the default user profile picture (which is of an egg) are either not engaged on the platform, not a real person, etc. Apparently, HIPB2B doesn’t follow any of these accounts.
All the ones I follow
This is a good list to have access to. It helps you look at who you follow and decide if you should continue to follow them. This is especially helpful if you want to clean your list for those that don’t match your targeting criteria.
Another Pro feature.
This app has some different stuff than CircleBoom, but it also appears to be more limited overall. That being said, I think combined, these tools could be harnessed to create a top-notch follow/unfollow strategy.
I’m also not sure how many free follow/unfollows you get. They don’t seem to have a pricing page.
But this is what you get when you click the Premium link.
I can’t show you what this looks like because I apparently went over my limit of follow/unfollows for the day.
But this shows who followed recently and when it happened.
This allows you to see who follows another account.
I got this screencap before I hit the limit. Interestingly, when you click on the profile, there’s no in-app preview, it just takes you to a new page.
These are the people that recently unfollow you. You can use this to unfollow people that unfollow you.
All these features are premium.
I haven’t tried out any of these features. I do think they are interesting and wonder what limits RoboFollow places on these to protect themselves from being marked as spam for auto-DMs.
It must just be because they aren’t automatic.
Which should you pick?
It’s interesting looking at the varying reasons why these apps have been spared while their close competitors in the space were taken down.
Both have time out limits likely to prevent other sorts of automation from manipulating it. They both take very specific steps to ensure that most actions are manual, allowing for true organic follower growth.
Use both in combination if you’re looking for free solutions. If you’re paying for one, at $5 for a free account, CircleBoom is the answer. But the paid version of ManageFlitter was a measly $12 per month. RoboFollow is just $8 a month, so if you sign up for both, you’ll pay only a $1 more.
Both tools are very good. I would recommend both, so far. As we continue to explore ManageFlitter alternatives, we will update this article to reflect what else we’ve learned about the tools’ capabilities and limits.
All three companies affected are in talks to get their services restored. But in the meantime, I found better, more targeted applications for organic follow/unfollow activities.
Let us know what you think:
- Did you use ManageFlitter?
- Have you ever tried either of these alternatives?
- Do you pay for a social media