Yes, I actually look at every follow request. I only have 1000+ followers and get maybe 10 requests a day–no complaints!–so I can take a moment to check them out. Unfortunately, the latest spam trend is killing me, but there is wheat mixed in with the chaff and I discovered a quick way to separate the spam from the real people.
Here’s five ways to make sure I won’t follow you and know you are Twitter spam:
1. Make sure your first tweet is something anomalous.
Sure, why should that first tweet say anything but “Darkly, point to the rooster, Wisconsin 76, Penn 66, excited”? Most people start with “Huh, what’s this Twitter thing?”, or maybe “I don’t know about this Twitter,” or even “Hi, this is my first Twitter post….uh, tweet?”
Oh, and two or three anomalous and nonsense tweets must be even better. No interaction with a friend. No retweeting someone interesting. No consistency or focus that a real person might show.
When you post that first anomalous or nonsense tweet, then I know exactly what you mean: you are not a real person.
2. Start by following 800 Twitter users.
Yep, no reason to dip a toe in the water or start slowly. Jump right in following 800 people!
You never know how many people will follow you back, so start following as many people as possible in hopes that a percentage responds. And it is so easy to follow 800 people right away, no confusion there. So why are you following 800 people and still have only 14 followers when I get around to clearing by Twitter requests after 24 hours? Something is fishy.
3. See how many followers you have that have my same last name.
This is the corollary to number 2 above. If you are following 800 people, why does such a large percentage of your followers have the same last name as mine? Are you really interested in everyone with the last name of Mathews? Or is that just how your Twitter follower software works? Or are you even worse and just randomly searching a last name and choosing everyone in that list?
This is another sure sign that no one is home on your end.
4. Show me that your first followers are really important people.
Important people are the best followers. Especially important people who follow 25,000 other people besides you. Yes, that’s a sure sign of positive interaction with followers. Not that there’s anything wrong with being followed by Christian(Presbyterian) @sexybeastym or even FAMOUS RECORDING ARTIST @DiegoMillGT.
If you’re going to follow someone who follows tens of thousands, pick someone like @scobleizer, @GuyKawasaki, or @leolaporte (oops, Leo only follows 1500 people, not his entire list of 270,000 followers). Or choose someone else from your interest area, but at least be human about it and show some interest.
5. Use a personal name as the Twitter handle, but use a different personal name as the account name.
Really? This is a tip-off to a spam account. Sure, sign up with a real human name as the handle and then use a completely different human name–or even an obviously different cultural name–as the account holder. There could be good reasons for this, but….really?
Obviously, there must be some payoff for the spammers.
Spammers don’t make mistakes on a regular basis, everything they do is measured for payback (actually, spammers do make mistakes, but they constantly correct to get better results, which is an entire other conversation). Most people are lazy and don’t take the time to review anything. In fact, most people on Twitter probably set their account to automatically follow back any follower–even though there are some of those people are folks they would not associate with in real life.
You want Twitter followers? Be human. Choose how you dive into Twitter the same way you buy a car. Do a test drive. Talk with a few friends. Check what a few other people write about the car. Drive it home very carefully the first day and park it in the empty area of the parking lot for the first couple of weeks. After the window stickers come off and the tires lose those little nubs on the sidewalls, then you can go a little crazy and pull donuts in the parking lot!
As for the spammers: they need to be a bit more obvious.
Oh, and you can follow me @memathews