We’re an award-winning social media agency in Vancouver, BC. We live 24/7 on social media, especially Twitter and Instagram. Twitter is by far the hardest of the social media platforms but is also the most rewarding because Twitter doesn’t restrict your organic reach like the dark lords at Facebook.
For this reason you need an audience management product to discover accounts that you might want to follow.
We test drove all of the free unfollow apps: Managefliter, Crowdfire, Tweepi, Commun.it and UnfollowSpy and rated them. We found some surprising features that you will want to check out.
Rating the unfollow apps: these apps are key to developing a strong social media audience.
Today we rate and discuss a slate of free products dedicated to following and unfollowing people. These apps are also known as #followback apps. You will absolutely **love** some of these tips.
When Twitter accounts grow to around 3,000 followers, it becomes necessary to use some sort of software to manage the audience.
Today we look at the most popular free versions of unfollow apps.
Specifically, Tweepi, Crowdfire, Manageflitter and Unfollowspy. We test drove these apps across multiple social media accounts so that we could report on what the pluses and minuses of each app are.
*** UPDATE: THERE IS A NEW VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE. After we rated these apps the first time, most of the apps changed their terms so you could unfollow/follow far fewer people. Boo! The new article has updated information you won’t want to miss. If you still want to read on, there is a great tip about Tweepi. ***
An update to this article is available here.
As professional social media managers we sometimes rely on third-party unfollow apps because Twitter does not have the functionality within Twitter itself to sort through thousands of followers and provide the data you need to make decisions. In many ways, this is a huge shortcoming of Twitter.
If you use Facebook, you know that Facebook constantly bombards you with friend suggestions so that you can grow your network. LinkedIn does the same thing. For some reason, Twitter provides suggestions of people who will never follow you back.
With large accounts, unfollow apps such as Manageflitter and Tweepi are important to determine if:
- you are following people who are following you. You probably want to follow most people back;
- your followers are active (when is the last time they tweeted; how often do they tweet); and
- Most importantly who is not following you back or who has recently unfollowed you.
The unfollow apps we discuss below are capable of sorting through large lists of followers and finding this information quickly.
They are also capable of identifying new accounts that you might find difficulty identifying using only Twitter.
To determine if someone is likely to follow you back, the best shortcut metric to look at is the follower ratio. 100% means the follow-to-followers ratio is equal. For example, an account with 3,208 followers that is following 3,186 would have a follower ratio of roughly 100%.
Audience management is about building and maintaining a strong and desirable audience. To do this, you will need to ditch people (porn or spam accounts) and follow people. Following people is advisable when they already follow you or you believe they might follow you back.
Following people who might follow you back is called the “tap on the shoulder” technique and is one of the most powerful features of social media relative to other forms of media. Because social media is two-way, you actually have an opportunity to get someone’s attention just by letting them know you are there. One of the best ways to let someone know you are there is to follow them. If that doesn’t work, try liking their posts. Then DM then. Then retweet them. If they still haven’t followed you back, unfollow them and wait a few days before starting the whole cycle again.
By the way, it is not improper to ask someone nicely via direct message to follow you back, but don’t expect them to just because you asked.
Sometimes you just want to let people know your account exists and the only way to do that is to follow or like their posts. Following someone is definitely a stronger action than liking a post.
In many cases following someone sends a message that they should follow back unless you are following someone who is a Twitter snob. There are a lot of Twitter snobs since Twitter uses an unfair “verification” system that creates a snobs.
We rate these apps by order of preference. We believe that Manageflitter and Tweepi do the best job, depending on the task at hand.
At our agency, audience management is a daily activity that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours per day, depending on the size of the account. It can be combined with engagement activities.
It is important to note that using a combination (all of the apps) at the same time is useful towards overcoming some of the limits these free versions impose. For example, if you haven’t pruned your followers list in a long time (i.e. you haven’t unfollowed people that aren’t following you back) you might need to unfollow more than 500 people in a day.
UPDATE: Manageflitter has restricted the number of unfollows to 50 from 500. So the free version is no longer useful for unfollowing.
Go to the new version of this article.
Manageflitter used to be our favourite because it allowed you to unfollow up to 500 people per day. Now it only allows you to unfollow 50 people. Too bad. For this reason we are moving it to the bottom of the list.
If your primary task is to clean out unfollowers. To find people you aren’t following back, we recommend Tweepi.
Tweepi is an extremely helpful app. It’s the best app for finding followers. By far. The downside of Tweepi is it only allows you to unfollow 100 people in 24 hours. Tweepi excels at finding qualified people to follow. Qualified people means people who are likely to #followback.
Manageflitter may be the easiest of the apps to use (it’s fast and hassle free), but Tweepi is the most powerful.
At this point I should be asking for your email because the best tip you have ever seen anywhere is coming. But since we don’t believe in interrupting your experience with welcome mats and all of the rest of that nonsense, we’ll leave it to you to volunteer your email address by simply sending it to email@example.com. The tip is coming regardless of whether you send your email or not, though.
Tweepi would be better if its free version allowed you to add more people to the “follow” list but for the low low price of free, we can’t be too picky.
Here’s how Tweepi works: you feed it up to six hashtags (#socialmedia #digitalmarketing #smm) and three twitter handles (@sujanpatel, @skyalphabet, @mistersalesman). You can designate the accounts as “competitors” or “look-alikes”. I’m not sure what the difference is. Then Tweepi compiles a list of 72 people. I think it maxes out at 72 per day. You have to go through and click each one “add to follow list.” You then go to your Twitter account and follow them all from the list Tweepi has built.
I started using Tweepi once a day about a week ago and I like its recommendations and how it shows me who I am not following.
One of Tweepi’s best features is that it tells you who you aren’t following back (use the classic view dashboard)
Before I used Tweepi I didn’t have a quick way of knowing who I wasn’t following back. Furthermore, with Tweepi you can sort the list by when they last tweeted to get an indication of how active they are. These are great features. Tweepi is definitely underrated.
Because I used Manageflitter for a long time I would forget to follow people back. Then when they go on vacation and have some time to manage their audience (August) they unfollow you. This hurt my account!
But…Tweepi’s real power lies within its “old dashboard”.
The new beta (sigma) dashboard pushes features that, frankly, are not as good as the old one. Once you go to to “the old” dashboard, select “Follow followers”
The fact that you are reading this article right now will strengthen your social media game by one hundred percent. Here’s why.
The major problem with Twitter is that you can’t sort and analyze your audience at all. You can’t see at a glance how many followers a person has, what their follow ratio is, and when the last time they have tweeted.
Tweepi shows you all of this. These are the only three metrics that matter if you are trying to build a strong audience.
It would be like finding investors for your company that invest large amounts of money in recent ventures that are similar to your own and stick around for the long haul. Perfect, right?
Almost. The only catch is that Tweepi only shows you 25 at a time. And then you can only add 72 of them to a list. So I suggest you go through each page and follow the ratios around 100% with more than 10,000 followers of accounts that are following @Tweepi, @manageflitter, and @crowdfire.
Why do I suggest you follow the followers that meet the three criteria above of the twitter accounts of these three unfollow apps?
Because everyone who is following these accounts has demonstrated an interest in growing their accounts using third-party software. Bam! Welcome to account development 101.
The great thing about Tweepi is that you can sort your follow list by Following ratio. This is a brilliant feature. 100% means that they are very likely to follow you back (that’s the point of a follower campaign, right?) When see an account that is 80% it means the people will almost certainly follow you back because they are following more than they are being followed. Accounts that are 400% means they aren’t as likely to follow you back since they are followed more than they follow. Ya dig?
I’ve saved the best for last.
The three Tweepi filters will make your career:
Just to make this career-making social media tip crystal clear, in the old dashboard select “follow followers of” and then enter an account. @socialmedia2day is used in this example but it’s actually not a great account to use. Use @sejournal or @manageflitter instead. Then you set these filters:
- Follower count is greater than 5000;
- Last tweeted is newer than 5 days;
- Follow ratio is less than 125%
You can thank me by tweeting ‘thanks for the Tweepi filters’ to @skyalphabet with a link to this article. And don’t forget to send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crowdfire is the app where you get to see your recent unfollowers. Those unfollowing cads! How dare they!
Crowdfire is slick. It’s one of the original audience management apps so it has a nice interface.
Unfortunately, Crowdfire only allows you to unfollow 10 people. This makes the free version of Crowdfire useless.
Over time you will notice accounts like @dukascopy that have 16 different versions @dukascopy_france @dukascopy_UK that will unfollow you even though you follow them back. I find these accounts suspicious because a corporate account shouldn’t really unfollow anyone back unless the account is a porn or spam account.
So when you see accounts that regularly follow you and unfollow you back, those accounts are good candidates for the blacklist.
The only issue with Crowdfire is that you can’t follow very many people in a 24 hour period. That’s a big issue!
CrowdFire has a nice feature called Keyword follow. Enter a keyword (you can see in the above example I’ve entered #programmatic) and Crowdfire will produce a bunch of accounts that fit the criteria. Nice.
The problem is you can’t follow very many of them. Like 25. Boo! Of course we’re talking about the free version here. These people get to sell your data so I’m not sure why they would want to throttle things so much but I’m sure there are lots of spreadsheets dedicated to this precise formula of SAAS metrics related to churn and the effect that articles like this have on adoption and lifetime customer value.
All I can say is that only one of these apps will receive the eventual $9/month that any given user will fork over, and I’d bet the $9 goes to the app that is used the most. If the app is too restrictive people go elsewhere. Like Manageflitter.
Read the new version of this article here.
The workaround to the limit is to copy and paste the results into a spreadsheet or text file and then manually create a list or follow people individually from within Twitter. Moz’s Followerwonk has a similar feature. This is a cumbersome approach so if anyone knows of a Twitter app that allows you to import a CSV or list of usernames into it (like how bulkbuffer accepts CSV files of tweets) and it will create a list from the text file, let me know. I’m tagging this idea for a new app #startup.
The third and final feature I appreciate about Crowdfire is the “Fans” section. These are people you aren’t following back. It’s important to keep an eye on followers because as I indicated above, many are prone to unfollowing you if you do not follow back.
You should sort the “Fans” list by “newest” because the “oldest” people probably won’t unfollow you back if they haven’t already.
This app might make you nervous because the interface is old. From the looks of things it hasn’t been updated in a long time and old apps sometimes have security flaws.
So you have been cautioned against Unfollowspy. Here we go anyway.
After answering two questions (No, don’t welcome new followers and No don’t send a status message every day) old Unfollowspy is good to go.
Unfollowspy may look old, but it is a good way to find people you aren’t following back. The app also seems to be quite fast. But there is no way to sort the names. This would be useful if you only wanted to follow back accounts that are larger than 1000, for example. You can only follow 50 people and then you have to wait 2 hours.
You can also use Unfollowspy to find followers who aren’t active for 6 months or several other periods. I would say that anyone who hasn’t tweeted in 2 years is pretty safe to unfollow.
Commun.it has a very busy interface. It does a lot of stuff. It could probably fix your car for you if you could figure out where to find it under all of the offers they present to you constantly.
Commun.it is like a hard sell furniture store. The fact is, they don’t give you enough of a reason to stick around. There were three welcome mats related to promotional offers. It’s annoying. For these reasons and because the free version doesn’t offer enough functionality (you only get 10 “engagements”, we do not use Commun.it.
If this app let you follow or unfollow lots of users it might be worth using but it doesn’t, so it isn’t.
Have we left one out or missed a feature? Let us know by emailing email@example.com or tweeting us @skyalphabet
ManageFlitter was the best free unfollow app but since the company has limited unfollows to 50 per day, it is nowhere near as useful as it once was. Tweepi is your best bet to build audiences, by far.
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Coming soon: Why is your PR firm doing your social media?