Twitter has become the defacto news powerhouse of social media. No matter how big Facebook may be, it will never replace Twitter as the breaking-news network. Why? Simply, it is the easiest way to send a short message or picture to what is going on, instantly. Because of this simple power, businesses and the media have made it their goal to horde followers. This has led to a size contest. After all, size matters! The more followers you have, the more influential you are; hence more people will want to follow what you say. But what if your Twitter followers aren’t real?
Let’s put this in a third-party context. What if your competitor’s Twitter following was HUGE and gave the impression they were better than your brand to the public? This would put them at an advantage when people are deciding to whom they should listen or buy from.
Let’s take this even one step further. What if that following was comprised of mainly fake accounts they controlled? What if they decided to take this unfair advantage and push a trending topic that would make them not only more visible, but seem the obvious choice for what they offer and artificially generate demand? How do you fight back and compete?
So as you can see, while it may seem like a harmless thing to stack the numbers on a social network, information is power. He or she who controls the narrative can manipulate the public and accomplish his or her goals: whether altruistic or nefarious.
I know what some of you are thinking, “Hey, this is a great idea to get me on the map!” Well, know that while it may give you an unfair advantage you crave, once you’re found out (and it’s easy to do so; I will show you below), you will lose ALL credibility and trust. All a person has is his or her name and word; once you lose that, you have nothing. How will this impact your sales, influence and growth?
Also keep in mind you will be feeding a black-hat industry that will by default become more powerful in controlling the sway of opinion for the highest bidder. What if that highest bidder’s agenda was self-serving?
While you may not have used one of these Bot Farms to grow your presence, you may have unwittingly followed some. The perpetuators of this industry are very good at making accounts seem real. Read The Wall Street Journal’s, Inside a Twitter Robot Factory.
By identifying if you have any fake accounts following you, you will avoid having to explain why they were there in the first place and make this service less valuable for the charlatans who offer this service. Moreover, you can also check to see if your competition has fake followers. Now keep in mind that since it’s easy to be fooled, to have a small percentage of fake followers (1% to 3%) would most likely not be a high issue. However, if you have a high percentage (20% and above), especially if you have a HUGE account, well, it’s obvious something shady is happening there.
If you go to Fakers Status People, at http://fakers.statuspeople.com/, you can check your account and up to 3 friend’s accounts. You simply enter the Twitter ID and it will do the rest. I got curious and decided to see what New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie’s and President Obama’s following were like (might as well be fair and do both sides of the coin). The results were surprising.
As you can see below, Chris Christie, who as of this writing has 417,347 followers, has 22% fake followers (almost 92,000).
While President Obama, who as of this writing has 40,199,220 followers, has a whopping 47% fake followers (almost 19 million).
Once you know you have fake followers, you can remove them automatically. There is a script provided by Followers Be Gone (go to http://followersbegone.com/) with step-by-step instructions for Google Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox users (sorry, Internet Explorer users) on how to apply the script. Make sure you are logged into your Twitter account and on that page when you apply the script.
So now that you know how to check for fake Twitter followers, make sure you keep your account clean. However, more importantly, check those you chose to follow and listen to. It will reveal their true character. If they are willing to cheat to get what they want; what else are they willing to do?
See you on the retweet!