Twitter is a fabulous resource for many things. I use it for monitoring trends, finding cool sites, sharing my links and getting top expert advice for free (from the many accountants, recruiters and developers that populate Twitter). Twitter has evolved from being a somewhat dismissed ‘Facebook status update site’ where people shared the culinary delights of their breakfasts to a playground for tech lovers and communicators where views are shared , expressed and deliberated on. You have instant contact to all sorts of experts, from magazine editors to realtors, and I’ve had a lot of free expert advice when I’ve tweeted out for help (and reciprocated in kind). It’s a marketers dream as you have untapped access to a potentially huge audience, so it’s no wonder most brands are hiring social media consultants ( a moniker I’ve been known to adopt) and getting heavily Twitter involved. Where this strategy falls down though is when people get to obsessed over the number of ‘followers’ their account has and starts to look as Twitter as a numbers game rather than a service about engagement. They get into a desperate race to get as many followers as they can, little realizing that this is actually a fools errand. Services have sprung up to cater to these execs, marketing themselves as being able to get you ‘10,000 followers in 10 days’, for a price, naturally.
Twitter n00bs may see this as an exciting offer- they’ll quickly be able to impress their boss, look like they’ve been hugely productive and push their catfood/ mobile phone/ really funny vid they’re calling a ‘viral’ out to loads of people. In theory it sounds great, but the reality is something very different.
Here are my four reasons why this wouldn’t be a clever action.
Reason One: There is no engagement when you buy Twitter followers
The whole point of Twitter is to create a discussion, and if you have loads of followers/spambots who haven’t followed you for any reason other than cash, they’re not going to interact with you are they? They won’t reply to your queries, click on your links- they’re essentially dead weight in numbers.
Reason Two: Many services require you to follow back your fake followers
The majority of paid ‘Increase you Twitter Foloowers’ services operate on a one in, one out basis. A lot of people have accounts set to autofollow anyone who follows them and you hand over your account name and password (also a security issue) to the providers and they proceed to follow 10,000 people, unfollowing anyone who doesn’t reciprocate. You’ll now have an account where you follow approximately the same number of folks who follow you (Give or take a few followers who drop out) meaning you have numbers but zilch authority. You could pay more to have followers who ‘don’t follow you back’ or you could spend loads of time ‘unfollowing’, but wither way, authority wise you’ll lack credibility.
Reason Three: Fake followers can be detrimental to your career
A quick glance of an account with 10,00 Twitter followers might look cool, but any journo who spends more than five minutes looking at the publicly available profile of your followers will see that your huge number is due to spambots, as most accounts who are paid to follow you have minuscule followers and around 3-5 tweets (if that). It will look fake and odd, and if you’re named and shamed that won’t do your career any favours. It also looks suspicious if you’re followed by a large number but not on any lists- as lists are where you’d expect popular Twitter folk to be named on.
Reason Four: Fake followers aren’t people of interest
Twitter is great for instantly connecting to people who might be out of reach, as many celebs and editors are vocal on Twitter. If Stephen Fry (for example) was to retweet your link, you’d see an increase in traffic to that URL and would be able to count that as a result. Twitter celebs get many MANY requests a day to promote stuff, and generally either do it out of interest or because they’re paid to through a service like Ad.ly (where you can buy promoted Tweets). If all your followers are fake you’ll have numbers but no one of importance- so money would be better spent buying a REAL tweet rather than just getting lots of useless digital dead weight.
I give my reasons with authority; I have been testing out a few services in the last few weeks and have found the above situations to be true. I DID get a lot of followers in my created account (not my main one!) very quickly, but they never responded to me when I @ them, and clicks on links I posted remained the same, with no rise due to the added numbers.
[Image from the TweetStore]
Still desperate to do this? Try Real Twitter Followers or Google!