Not every account on social media is created equal. In fact, some aren’t even run by real people. Some of the largest platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, are rife with fake or inactive users. Which is why back in July, Twitter executed a massive purge of locked or fake accounts. Some of the largest accounts (Katy Perry, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga) lost about 2-3 percent of their followers, while others lost many more. Some even lost the majority of their followers. (Ironically, the official Twitter account lost more than average, going down 12%.)

I lost more than 1,700 followers, about 2% of my total following. But I couldn’t be happier, and I’ll tell you why…

Those 1,700 followers added no value to my platform! The type of accounts purged by Twitter were either locked for violating Twitter’s rules (so, people who couldn’t have engaged anyway), inactive accounts (people who weren’t engaging anyway), bots (people who – no, actually not people at all), or totally fake profiles that were created for various illicit reasons.

I pride myself on having NEVER purchased followers, so all this purge did was strengthen my following by removing the numbers that didn’t benefit me – or anyone!

The Cleanup

Research from the University of Southern California has determined that anywhere from 9 to 15 percent of all Twitter accounts are fake – that’s approximately 45 million accounts. While certain bots on Twitter have been used to help spread information or perform other innocuous activities, some have been used to steal identities and post graphic and harmful content.

But because Twitter doesn’t require accounts to be associated with real people, it is easy for fake accounts and bots to proliferate. Though Twitter has an option to report fake accounts for tweeting spam, there are too many for regular users to deal with. So after consistent pressuring by investors, Twitter gave millions of accounts the axe on July 12th. Some accounts suspected to have bought numbers indeed lost the majority of their “follower” base, while the majority of accounts lost much smaller amounts.

For those who prided themselves just on the numbers, this purge must have hit hard. But for many entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and professionals interested in building genuine platforms, this massive cleanup effort has been a dream come true.

Quality Over Quantity

Since the fake follower purge, the percentage of followers who interact with my tweets has gone way up. Despite having lost two percent of my following, I am getting more mentions and interactions than before. This proves that those follower numbers are just numbers, and have no actual value.

Purchasing high numbers just to make it appear as if your platform is bigger than it actually is will hurt much more than help. First of all, it’s a lie. And it is super simple to spot a lie on social media.

Yes, if you are following 24 people, and you have 68,294 followers, and you get no comments or likes on your posts, you’re not fooling anyone.

Effective social media platforms cannot be built on dishonesty and fabrications. Authenticity is the key to building an engaged community (which is vital if you are growing a business or launching a mission or spreading a message). Numbers don’t mean anything if there’s no action behind them. And to have most of your following vanish because you bought their presence (which will happen) will harm your reputation as a leader, especially if you claim to value authenticity.

Stronger Community

Genuine community can’t be bought. Even if you have millions of “followers,” if they didn’t choose to follow you, they add nothing to your platform. Since losing those 1,700 followers (who were either inactive or following me for some unknown clandestine reason), my community has been more engaged than ever, and I can take comfort in knowing that my following is completely legitimate.

Honesty is attractive. Real humans – quirky uniqueness and all – are enticing.  The value in your community will grow when you embrace authenticity on social media. Ultimately, the follower purge was a huge step in the right direction, making Twitter a friendlier, more connected place for business owners and leaders.

If you lost a chunk of your followers, don’t sweat the dip in numbers. See this as an opportunity to grow your Twitter community and create a foundation of honesty and trust that will help tremendously in the long run!

Now let’s connect! (Unless you are an unscrupulous bot.)