Fakers on Twitter Vs. Real Relationships
Over the weekend I saw Zack Bussey’s blog post on Twitter And The Dark World of Paid Followers, and the conversation on Twitter and other social channels continued through the day today. In a city as big as Toronto (5th largest in North America), there is a very small social media community and very few well-paying social media jobs/clients. As a result, a lot of people get their feathers ruffled when any new tool comes out that either measures influence (Klout, which Zack Bussey also built his following by creating a controversial Top 150 Toronto Twitter Influencers, based on Klout scores, then later refuted the tool and called it “creepy”) or that exposes potential fakers. Of course this issue is bigger than just Toronto as it’s been written about in Forbes and another release that suggested a large number of Mitt Romney’s recent followers may have been purchased to make him appear more influential to unsuspecting voters.
Now, if you’re purchasing Twitter followers for any reason, and most of them are fake, you’re likely to lose all your hard-earned credibility when it becomes obvious to your paying clients and PR co’s who are likely to feel cheated by you.
Twitter’s main measure to prevent following/follow-back abuse is the 2,001 follow wall. Once you’ve followed 2,001 accounts the following to follower ratio must be 1:1.1 meaning you have to have 10% more followers than you can follow at any given time.
I do recommend people and businesses setting up a new Twitter account follow up to approximately 1,500 accounts, after they’ve customized their bio, avatar, background, links and sent some initial “Hi! We’re here on Twitter and here’s what we’re about” tweets. When I’m doing it for a client, I try to get the following done in about 6 hours of work, spread over 2 days (Twitter also restricts the number of new accounts followed in a day & can suspend your account temporarily if you trigger the “aggressive” limitations). But for people new to twitter it can and should take a lot more time than just 6 hours.
The key is to follow RELEVANT people in the same industry, up or down the supply chain, customers, suppliers, potential employees, reporters and people (Twitter profiles) found by searching twitter for bio & tweet conversation KEYWORDS that indicate their passion, career position or geography makes them most likely to be genuinely interested in following back to see what the new Twitter account has to say.
I find this method gives an initial boost to the real community of people following back, as most people don’t change their Twitter accounts from the default of receiving an email when someone new follows them. When I click follow, the email they receive includes my whole bio & avatar and over 2-3 weeks as people check into their Twitter (most are infrequent users) and click through the email to check me out, 25% or more will follow me back. Additionally, I engage and get involved in the conversations of the interesting & relevant people I’ve followed and this helps increase my followers.
The reason why I recommend only 1,500 and not 2,000 on a new account is because there are so many real, fascinating and valuable people on Twitter, my clients will invariably find new people they want to follow. I also recommend they connect with and follow their IRL customers, so 500 available will usually last them a while.
When I started my second Twitter account (I now have 20, only 10 are active at all, and only 4 are relatively active) – @Sparkle_Agency, I made the mistake of following 2,001 people right away and then it was more than a year of active Tweeting and engaging with nearly 15,000 tweets sent before I could follow anyone new. Even when potential clients would want to DM me, they couldn’t because I couldn’t follow them without going back to my awesome hand-built following and digging through to find and unfollow a handful so I could follow them and allow the DM. A real pain in the butt.
But overall, following relevant people who may genuinely be interested in a conversation with you is a polite way to introduce yourself to them. As long as you are doing it by human hand and searching for relevant individuals it works out pretty fair.
Following celebrities won’t do you much good (you’re more likely to have them follow you if you Tweet @them something smart or funny), and news organizations while relevant to your own observations & finding great content to retweet to your followers also are not likely to follow you back or ever engage in conversation with you.
Personally, I have a really problem with people passing off their real accounts as popular/relevant media channels with 60,000+ fake followers, so that they can promote and charge for “publicity” on online TV shows, with their visible audience so large they can get people paying to participate in fake publicity on the assumption. It’s really quite the scam, especially when they say the fee they charge is a donation for charity but they never publish the amount donated or the specific charity.
Should these “fake” people be outed? The button on fakers.statuspeople.com is just so tempting!
Here’s a bunch of Twitter accounts I tested but they all (including my own) are leaning heavily to “Good”. I found a few of the more popular people who are really active but whose accounts are much smaller than the 50K+ typical of faked accounts, they seem to attract a higher number of inactive and fake bots.
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