The obvious measure of success on twitter is undeniably the number of followers.
Earlier this year, while working on the @haringeylibrary project, I ran a very quick experiment to demonstrate how futile this measure is, because it’s so easily gamed, or manipulated. A side benefit was, once you’ve done this, it’s very easy to differentiate between real twitter accounts, and those who have gamed their follower numbers. But more about that later.
My ‘gain followers fast’ experiment was simple. I shall now reveal how to gain 1400 followers in 24 hours, good luck with it if you plan to use it commercially.
First of all, I opened an obviously fake account, and tweeted a few times, making it absolutely clear that this was a fake account.
I then manually followed about 400 people from a follow-back list. People who have gambled their follower numbers are usually on these lists. I’ve used lists I found @steinhoefel1 on who is one of the big social media players in my home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (frustrating, I tell you!), but you are welcome to have a look at @mazi‘s lists.
A good indicator of a follow-back list is a list of exactly 500 accounts. The names of these lists are sometimes obvious (They Follow Back), sometimes not as obvious (have a look at @mazi’s lists – it’s a good mix of obvious and not.)
There’s a limit to how many accounts you can follow in one day. But as soon as you follow people on those lists, you will appear on follow-back lists and you’re off. Try it but WARNING – don’t use your main account for this, as your twitter timeline will turn into mind-numbing mush.
I truncated the experiment after 24 hours but it’s easy to see how you can be at 30,000 followers within a month. I don’t think I need to stress that none of these followers will ever read a word you’re saying or look at anything you’ve linked (Paul Clarke did a good click-thru studies of some of the big follower names on the scene last year.)
Do I need to further stress that follower numbers are as futile as a promise of 20 FIFA worldcup votes?