Twitter followers: a high school popularity contest?

It seems like every day brings a new wave of spam schemes on Twitter. When I originally started using Twitter I set my feed to autofollow people who followed me, the logic being that if they were interested in the topics I was tweeting about then I would probably be interested in their tweets too. For a while this worked, (bar the wave of insurance people who followed me after I tweeted about my bad knee) but then I suddenly found myself getting lots of DM’s with links in them and spending loads of time every day removing people with awful names like ‘twittercash’ and ‘makemoneyfast’ (these are example names I made up rather than exact profiles). Today igorhelpsyousucceed blogged a great example of how clumsy and ill thought out these advertising campaigns can truly be.

I’m not idealistic enough to expect Twitter to be without spammers, but what really annoys me is the way in which people go around collecting followers without any logic at all. Through an annoying affiliate tweet I read today, I stumbled on http://www.tweeterfollow.com a tool that gave one woman ‘100 followers in a day’. The rules of this scheme (which incidentally you only read if you are savvy enough to check out what you are signing up for) are as follows:

Tweeterfollowrules

So someone has worked out that they can get Twitterers to pay to get followers whilst also raking in cash from advertisers to blast out ads via their database of users.

But what value does 100 followers have if the only link you have to them is that you both signed up to the same follower tool? Absolutely none. At our agency we are always trying to get marketing professionals to understand that Twitter is about engaging communities and that blasting out messages any old how is unlikely to have any result whatsoever. The flipside of this however is that blasting people will twitter ads is not so far away from the traditional advertising models that we use for television and outdoor advertising; whilst you can target ads using this medium there is a high level of wastage in terms of people reached and people who will actually be interested in the product. So in a way it’s not really surprising that Twitter has developed this way.

The other thing to think about is how Facebook developed in its early days; when people first started using Facebook one of the key things that people wanted was to get enough Facebook friends to look at least slightly popular. Now however, people seem to be a bit more discerning about the people they add on Facebook and the amount of information they are willing to give away to friends (an invitation from my Dad? Limited profile? Yes please!) The bits of Facebook that are developing however, are concepts like the fan pages and apps where people find out more about and interact with the brands they are interested in. Twitter tried to start out at this point and now is going back to the popularity contests similar to those we had in the early days of Facebook. Perhaps this has to happen for a media type to become established? Perhaps it will be a short lived fad before people start working out that they don’t get anything from a load of unexcited, random followers; no good content if you are a social user and no sales if you are a brand. How long it will take to get to this point? Let’s hope it happens soon.

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1 Response to “Twitter followers: a high school popularity contest?”


  1. 1 Louis Halpern September 4, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Media tends to change like a a railway track and a train rather than a horse and cart. Media follows the same path and gets faster rather than making dramatic changes.

    A few years ago people said that the Internet would kill TV. In fact what has happened is that the delivery mechanism has changes but the discerning public just demands better quality video across all the delivery platforms.

    The same trend is happening on Facebook and now Twitter.


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