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When bullsh-t becomes reality – fake followers vs. real followers how to tell for certain

by Reviewboard MagazineMay 28, 2015
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How to tell fake twitter followers from real twitter followers

I’m a social networking expert and I get a lot of questions about fake v. real twitter followers, verified accounts, and countless other things.  BY FAR the biggest question is how to tell if a person has a bullsh-t following/fan base/etc… I’m an expert because I own a business that makes 7-8 digits a year on the Internet and have done so for 18 years.  I’ll put my 1040a up against anyone else that wants to say their an expert and says I’m wrong.  And yes, being an expert means you are good at it.  If you are good at it you are getting paid a lot. (that is how to determine whether a social network expert is an expert of a dud).

One of the biggest problems I have is explaining to people with pre-conceived notions how it really works.  They are google warriors. They know because they read it on the Internet from some guy’s blog who smokes crack in his mother’s basement and it is gospel.  Another one of these people uses a “tool” that looks at followers and decides what is fake and what is real based on eggs and tweets.

6 bad ways to judge fake twitter followers

So here is the list of 6 reasons why those tools are bullsh-t and those notions of “eggs and tweets” are too.

1) In order to see things like lists, or use any features of twitter, and to even read tweets you need to have an account. THE VAST MAJORITY of twitter users login and NEVER use their account.  They want to see what other people are doing, they might tweet a few times, they don’t bother putting a picture up there because they don’t know how or they aren’t committed to using it yet.  That’s it. Don’t believe me? Ask random people you sorta of know if they have a twitter account. The answer by far will be “yah but I never use it”.  Good people like yourself who use twitter ASSUME that everyone is like them.  It’s natural.  But the fact is twitter is huge, they have a lot of accounts.  The other fact is that only a fraction of the accounts they have registered use it for ANYTHING other than getting info from other people on their phone or tablet.  That’s it.  Two examples of this:  My son in law has a twitter account (with an egg) and follows a shoe store that tweets when the new Jordan’s (Sneakers) are on sale.  They have flash sales on hard to get Jordan’s and when that tweet goes off he gets his ass to the line to get the Jordan’s.  That’s it.  Second example, an intern here that I know pretty well uses it only to follow 3 people that tweet alot of tips and video links about his RC helicopter obsession.  That’s it!  You are thinking… wow? That’s not normal though… WRONG it is exactly normal.  WE the people that are tweeting every second in the twitter-verse are the minority.

2) EGGS mean fake users.  That is the biggest piece of bullsh-t I’ve ever heard.  See #1, but you have these know-it-all bloggers that get a few followers and they start spewing absolute crap about their expertise in this and that… “I have 10,000 twitter followers I’m a social media expert”.  Horse sh-t.  What they are is interesting to a microscopic segment of an enormous billion person network.  Just because 10,000 people are following them doesn’t make them an expert.  Eggs are just eggs.  People don’t want their picture on the internet, that’s why there is a huge privacy thing with facebook.  People want to know who is seeing their image and what they are doing with it etc… etc…  When is the last time you saw anyone over weight post a picture of themselves? I’m fat and I don’t do it. End of story. Eggs mean nothing.

3) Lack of tweets mean it is a fake user.  Another steaming pile of horse manure. Lack of tweets means the person doesn’t want to tweet. Could it be a fake user? Sure.  Is it? Probably not. The vast majority of twitter accounts login, make an account, and do nothing.  They either tweet a few times and forget they ever had it, or they follow a few people / companies to get trending info.  That’s it.  So lack of tweets means jack squat.

4) Follower count – If the person has a ton of people following and then follows a ton of people their account is bullsh-t.  Well that’s iffy.  There are a lot of sites out there that allow people to share follower for follower.  Or a lot of people say “Follow me for a follow back”.  This is probably the only thing that is really an indicator.  That said, their followers aren’t bullsh-t, they are real people looking for follow backs so those accounts are effective. The people who are trying to build their following might do it… but they are getting all those tweets in their feeds.  It isn’t as effective as a natural follow (due to genuine interest) but it can still be effective.

5) I ran an online tool that told me that so and so’s followers were 75% bullsh-t.  That tool was made by some guy looking to exploit the fact that you (and others) are obsessed with knowing if someone has fake followers because they can’t sleep at night knowing someone else is more popular than they are, or they need to determine if this person is really a taste maker or a bad taste in their mouth.  Either way the tool is bullsh-t.  All it does it counts eggs, and lack of tweets to determine whether the account is fake or real.  I’ve already established in 1-4 why that doesn’t work. I know, I know their websites are very convincing and there are apps too. They say special algorithms, unique technology that spots bots and spammers, blah blah.  It’s crap. They count eggs, tweets and account age all of which is crap.  The only thing those programs could do is keyword searches on tweets for words like “follow me” and “viagra” or “oxy” to find spammers, unfortunately they don’t “just do that” they all count eggs, tweets, and account age above tweet content. Why? their scripts get banned by twitter just like spam bots so they can’t scan tweets. Once an IP address connects to twitter more than a 10 or so times (at the same time) twitter starts throttling the connections.  They have issues with server loads and becoming slow because of too many people on their servers at the same time.  After about 20 connections (spidering) they start banning those ip’s.  These companies that make the scripts and apps that “detect fake users” can’t spider the tweets of each follower that they are trying to analyze to parse those keywords to determine if they are fake before twitter bans their IP addresses.  So they don’t scan them. Because they can’t scan them.  So they are left with eggs, tweets, and account age (something the twitter API will give them without them scanning 10s of thousands of pages on twitter).

6) Engagement – this is a MOST misused word on in Social Media.  Engagement is great – that is a certainty.  I’m not arguing.  But from an evaluation perspective… if you are trying to determine if a twitter account is bullsh-t than it is useless.  Here is the reason… Low engagement is a great way to determine VALUE.  So someone that has higher engagement numbers (i.e. people that retweet, favorite, etc…) have a better quality offering because their reach is larger than their number.  BUT someone with low engagement does not a cheater make.  It just means they have people that aren’t “tweeters”.  They are there for the 411… for the notifications… they aren’t twitter power users.  Believe it or not this is the majority of the twitterverse.  This would be especially true of a site that doesn’t have actionable content.  For instance I shopping site that announces sales on hard to get Nike Air Jordan Sneakers would probably not get a lot of engagement.  For 2 reasons… 1) It’s a shopping thing it isn’t very WOW worthy outside of the offering.  2) Because of the limited nature of these types of sales the buyers are not predisposed to sharing the info because it means more people to compete with for their shoe sizes.   Another example would be a review publication like ours.  You read a review on a product.  If it isn’t something that isn’t out yet like “OMG THE NEW APPLE IPHONE 7 REVIEW IS AT REVIEWBOARD 3 WEEKS EARLY AND IT IS THE FIRST TIME ANYONE HAS SEEN IMAGES OF IT!!!” then the engagement is going to be low.  Products are pretty static, and you would be more inclined to see a facebook share out of something like that than a retweet or a favorite.  It’s very subjective and really about the product, or the content of the article (i.e. this product will kill your children under 2 if they use it when the sky is green).

The only accurate way to determine if a twitter account or following is real

So what do you look for?  HOW CAN YOU TELL???!?!!

Easy.

LISTS are the secret.  Anyone can join lists (subscribe to someone’s list).  But MEMBER OF is a big deal. This means OTHER PEOPLE made a list and PUT YOU ON IT.

Now look at Reviewboard’s twitter account (@Review_Board)

https://twitter.com/review_board/memberships

If you see there is a tab above that says SUBSCRIBED TO (that would be US subscribe to a list) and another tab that says “MEMBER OF” (that would be other people adding us to their list).

The link above goes directly to the MEMBER OF (the good one).  Aside from having almost 300k twitter followers, we are on lists that collectively have an additional 218,984 (as of the date of this article) members.  That means our reach is almost twice what our follower count.

That means our followers are not bullsh-t.  If you want to know if someone has a fake account it is easy.

1) Look at their account.  Look at their followers.  If their account has 10,000 followers and they don’t tweet about anything it is likely bullsh-t.  After all why would someone follow someone that doesn’t tweet?  So look at tweet count.  If it is low… and the follower count is high… they are either a celebrity or have fake followers.  Celebrities generally have verification checkmarks next to their name.

2) Look at the MEMBER OF list.  If they are included in a lot of lists it is because there are a lot of people that think what they tweet about is important and interesting.  This is by far the biggest indicator.

For all those people obsessed with fake v. real twitter followers I hope this helps you find rest at night!

 

 

 


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