Twitter spamming: Internet marketing Q and A

Ian Lurie

As part of my internet marketing Q & A, M. Hall asked:
My question is specific to twitter. Someone just started following me who has posted 39 tweets and has 13,000+ followers. How did he do that? I know the short answer is “he’s topical” (topic – repairing ones credit, which seems like a spammy topic anyway). But what’s the longer answer?

That’s a relatively easy one: The person who started following you used one of many forms of auto-following software that are out there. These tools often call themselves ‘Twitter marketing tools’. They’ll promise to ‘Automate Twitter Promotion & Marketing’.

They’re also full of crap.

What these tools do is go to Twitter, grab the account names of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people who may have, once in their lives, said something distantly related to keywords you enter. Then they auto-follow all of those people in the hopes that they’ll follow back.

Then, the really high quality ones unfollow most of the victims. That way, your account gets a great ratio of followers to follows.


The problem is, you have an audience of people who had zero intention to ever hear from you. They don’t know who the hell you are. They don’t care. Basically, you just barged into their living room, yelling “HEY THERE HOW ARE YA CAN I SELL YOU SOME VIAGRA?”.

One way to tell how much this software sucks: Most people use it to try to sell more of the same software. It’s a perpetual toilet bowl of spam.

The moral of the story: If someone has 13,000 followers and 39 Tweets, and they’re not world famous, don’t follow them back.

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  1. Not only do I not follow-back the many “new followers” I detect daily as symptoms of this unfortunate phenomenon, I block them if they are from the immediate metro area. Not sure if that’s considered the right thing to do but I don’t care – I think people should be penalized for that sort of silliness. In our line of specialty, it’s so easy to ferret out and so ludicrous – like, why is the Downtown Motel in Wherever, Ohio, following someone who writes and tweets exclusively about a neighborhood 2,000 miles away? Bleh.

  2. I got a “you’re being followed” message yesterday from a guy with around 6000 followers and followees(?). He tweets about social media. Looked interesting so I followed him.
    Big mistake. At 12:36 am today my cell phone rang. This guy had gotten my number and sent me a text message that looked like one of his tweets. I’ve been around the internet for a long time but this is taking spamming way, way beyond anything I ever imagined.

  3. Man, I was wondering how those folks glommed onto me. Some of them are into stuff that is completely unrelated to anything I have ever expressed the remotest interest in. Like sports cars. I do not know one sports car model from another, and I care even less. And no, I do not want to see your sexy videos. And I do not know you from Adam OR Eve, and how the hay-ell did you find my account?
    I protect my tweets, so I get to block these people right upfront. But it still amazes me how persistent and ingenious they are. (The latest ploy seems to be to mix innocuous tweets in with the spammy ones.)

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