If you’re relatively new to Twitter, you might still believe in the “rule of high followers”: if someone has thousands of followers, they must be interesting enough to follow.
But those of us who are a bit more battle weary will think twice about admiring a high follower count. We know that it’s easy to artificially inflate, making that user look like one-to-follow when they’re really a dud.
Here’s how to spot a fake follower count.
It is, sadly, extremely easy to increase the number of followers you have on Twitter. I say sadly because the methods that many people use – if their goal is only to gain followers and not engage a community, find and share news, or participate on Twitter effectively – are quite devious.
You can quickly gain followers by following an indiscriminate number of people, waiting for them to follow back, and unfollowing them in batches. Or, you can participate in a number of “services” that will accumulate followers on your behalf, by asking you to pay or join a reciprocal follower program.
But it’s not immediately obvious who is accumulating followers through less than legitimate means and who is truly popular on Twitter.
For instance, you might think that someone with a nearly equal follower to following ratio would be a scammer – they probably just mass followed people to get them all to follow back. But that’s not necessarily the case, as many high profile Twitter users follow the etiquette of following back anyone who follows them out of courtesy.
A good indication of someone with fake followers is that they don’t produce anything interesting in their own Twitter feed. Their timeline might be filled with repeated tweets (I’m talking dozens in a row), @message spam, ads, or other garbage. So why would you – or the thousands of people who are – want to follow them?
Or, take a look at their profile on TwitterCounter.com. Enter their name in the top right corner of the screen, and then click on the 3-month view of their follower count. If it goes up pretty steadily, chances are they’re legit. But if there is one or more irregular jumps – like thousands of new follows in a single day and only 1 or 2 before and after – you’ve likely found a scammer.
Of course, if they are a celebrity or if they have been in the news lately, this rule doesn’t hold up. But it’s a good test for the average account.
Do you have any tricks to spot a user with a fake follower count? Let us know in the comments below.
(Image courtesy of Dvpodt via Shutterstock)