Games People Play to Get Twitter Followers
This week, we took a topic that started as a blog post and turned it into a discussion of how Twitter is being used for spam purposes. By talking about these tactics and calling them to your attention, we hope you avoid falling into the traps and eventually prove to the spammers that it is a failed effort.
As your hosts on the podcast, we consider Twitter a tool to learn from others, share knowledge, and bridge new relationships. These tactics below are apparent and should divert you from following.
Here are the items that we talk about:
The first one we discuss in the reciprocal follow. When you check a new follower and notice that they are following a large number of people without many followers, this could indicate spam or bot tactics. Followers, beware; look at their follower followee ratio, which will tell you a lot about them. Don’t feel obligated to follow someone just because they follow you; determine whether or not you want to see the information they are putting out there. What value do they give you? Do they just drown out the excellent information that you’re looking for? Proceed cautiously.
You can also take the opposite strategy: follow many people, watch what they put into the Twitter stream and decide to unfollow if it doesn’t meet what you are looking for.
They don’t use a picture or use someone else. Worst yet, it’s a celebrity or an animal. We are interested in conversations with real people, not those who hide behind an avatar. Keep it real, people, and post a picture. Go take one if you can’t find one in your stash or find someone to help. We don’t want to Tweet with your dog.
People list you in a Follow Friday manner even though they don’t follow you or know who you are. Don’t be taken in by that flattering strategy. It’s just to get your attention so you’ll follow them back. This devious strategy took advantage of the goodwill initially provided by Follow Friday, where recommendations were considered a badge of honor. Now it is a ploy trying to get you to follow someone back who supposedly found you so interesting they recommended you to others.
A recent tactic comes when a random person starts having a conversation with you via the use of an @ reply. This morning an example of this kind of conversation appeared in my stream. By the time of writing this post, it was no longer available to use as a screen capture .. so the spam reporting function must have been triggered by someone else they hit, and it was removed from the stream.
We get to another spam strategy where they use the Trending Topics list as a way to get noticed with their tweets. Adding a current heavily used hashtag at the end of their “teeth whitening” message allows them to appear in the trending topics list, so it has been employed for this tactic.
Managing the Twitter stream will be easier in the coming weeks as they add a List function to the web interface. By categorizing people into lists, like desktop apps such as Seesmic and Tweetdeck, you can quickly follow smaller numbers interested in like topics. The cool thing about this List functionality is the ability to follow someone else’s list with one click. So Desiree’s excellent list of Austin Tweeters can be observed in one easy step.
Why not do some winter cleaning? Twitterholic, Buzzom, or FriendorFollow.com are tools you can use to prune your followers and following lists.