I get new followers on Twitter (@rebeccacoleman) every day–usually somewhere between 5 and a dozen. I’m pretty careful to check on each new follower, because I want to see if they are someone I should follow back, or someone I may want to engage with right away.
If you’re new to Twitter, you might not know this, but you can purchase Twitter followers. Why would you want to do that? Well, when someone visits your Twitter profile for the first time, if they see that you have 5,000 followers, this is more impressive than you have 150 followers, so sometimes people buy followers to make themselves look more important. Basically, having a lot of followers gives you instant street cred.
There’s a problem with this, though. Those accounts, while they make you look good, are all fake. Some guy has registered a couple thousand gmail addresses, and then tied fake twitter accounts to those. They will never tweet you back or retweet or stuff or attempt to engage with you, because they are not real accounts associated with a real person. So, while they might make you look good, they won’t actually help in any way with building your business or your brand.
How can you spot someone who has taken the option to purchase followers?
1. Look at when they started their account. Hootsuite is great for this. When you click on any profile in Hootsuite, I tells you some basic information, followers, followees, Klout score, and, near the bottom, when they joined Twitter.
If they only recently joined twitter, and they already have a few thousand followers, chances are they are fake followers.
2. What’s the follower-to-followee ratio? If they have a huge following, but they are only following a few people, and they are not a celebrity, chances are their followers are fake.
3. What kind of stuff are they tweeting? Are they attempting to engage in real, meaningful conversations, or are their tweets an endless source of spam? If they are doing nothing but trying to sell stuff, there’s a good chance their followers are fake. This person has tweeted over 22,000 times in less than one year. They are only following a few hundred, and they have 4,700 followers. Based on the kind of tweets they put out, I’m guessing they have fake followers, and may even, in fact, be a fake account.
4. Use a tool like Status People’s Fakers. It can tell you what percentage of your (or any other twitter account’s) followers are fake. Mine’s only 2%. Phew!
I’ll have what she’s having!