I won’t let you automate your whole feed or fake a verified badge, but recently decided that buying a few followers to launch an account is a pretty good idea
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
As you might know by now, I’ve been managing Twitter.About.com for a few months and so far I’ve been trying to focus on building a base of Twitter Basics and a Twitter Glossary. This month I took a break and asked my Twitter followers from @About_Tweeting what their most pressing questions were.
For example, every time I try to teach a client about Twitter, their first go-to question is how they can set up automatic Twitter feeds. That question makes me balk every time I hear it. Mostly because it’s hard to teach someone how to use Twitter when you know that their goal is to automate the whole thing.
Twitter is my favorite social network. It’s the only one where you can not only maintain a community, but build one too. Twitter Search is one of my favorite tools for building followers. Even though Facebook opened their Social Graph, that search engine is not exactly built for business like the Twitter Search engine is.
So when you try to automate Twitter, you really lose out on all the benefits. All those reasons why people say you should join Twitter go down the drain because you’re merely maintaining a presence.
I do however, think it’s perfectly fine to attach a few feeds to your account via FeedBurner’s “socialize” function. You can tell it to Tweet out any articles that include a certain keyword. This feature is beneficial when you’re trying to maintain a feed meant for news on a certain topic. There’s no way to keep your feed up-to-date on industry news unless you have someone monitoring your account 24 hours a day. If you do, then great! If you don’t, you won’t be chastised for sprinkling automation in as long as you’re not using it as your only Twitter strategy.
Choo Choo! All Aboard the Twitter Train!
And while we’re on the topic of things you shouldn’t do, I was really surprised when I ran a test on buying Fiverr Twitter followers. I’ve been shunning the idea of buying followers for a long time because I think it makes people look stupid, loose credibility and because the followers are always, and will always be, fake. So, what’s the point, really?
But then I was thinking about the psychology of how and why people follow other people. It’s hard to launch a Twitter account with zero followers and slowly but surely build them up. I mean, even for us, and we’re pretty darn good at building loyalty with new followers.
So basically I launched @About_Tweeting with zero followers and launched a test that I wrote a little diary about. For $5 bucks, I bought 2,500 Twitter followers. I figured that number was fairly believable, and a number I could easily attain as I’ve done many times before, for dozens of other accounts. A good solid number. To make a long story short, in thirty days, all of the fake follower accounts got deleted, but I was left with 500 real followers.
Five hundred in thirty days is pretty darn impressive. I mean, I was doing everything else according to the book, totally legit. I was sending out my own Tweets, I was talking to people, I participated in a couple Twitter chats. I had a couple auto-feeds streamed into the account for Twitter news, but that only posted about once a day, the rest were all mine. I didn’t have a Twitter widget promoting the account anywhere and I wasn’t buying Twitter ads, I just launched with some fake followers and the rest was what I’d be Tweeting on any normal day.
Even by doing everything right in your feed, it’s gosh-darn hard to get 500 followers in a month. The hard truth about social psychology is that people follow the crowd. So no matter how good my Tweets could have been, a status of zero followers is not convincing enough to get someone to follow me. 2,500? Much more convincing.
And let’s be real. Once you’re past that initial point of introduction, it’s still up to you to post good stuff that makes them want to keep following. So I probably won’t admit it again after this test, but I’m secretly now a believer in buying followers as long as it’s under 3,000 and only when you’re initially creating your Twitter account.
And in other Twitter news …
On to the next topic of discussion, if you use your money to buy a few hundred thousand followers and then want to sell your Twitter account, you can’t.
Another question I got was how to fake a verified Twitter account. I hated to even touch on the subject, but inquiring minds want to know and how can I claim to be a source of Twitter info if I don’t warn people about the black hat stuff, right? The summary of this article is basically that you can do it by being creative with your background image, but that Twitter will probably suspend your account if they find out. So, y’know, don’t do it.
Finally, I had some fun this month talking about crazy celebrities on Twitter. I read this great article by grown-up Mara Wilson (the cute little girl from Mrs. Doubtfire) about why child stars go crazy (and now tend to go crazy publicly on Twitter) and I thought her perspective was really insightful. ”Having to live up to your fan base is a little like having to deal with a million strict parents who don’t actually love you,” wrote Wilson. “They reward you for your cuteness and cleverness, but are quick to judge and punish. And they do not want you ever to grow up. How do you react? The way any sullen teenager does: You get resentful, and as soon as you have the freedom, you act out.” In the case of celebrities like Amanda Bynes, she’s just letting it all hang out. And how crazy it must be for every Tweet you send to make you more and more famous, even if for all the wrong reasons.
That’s all for this month. If you have any burning questions or ideas for Twitter tests I can run, let me know. There’s nothing I like more than to prove myself wrong!
Did you know that I’m now managing Twitter.About.com too?
From now on I’ll be sharing a bunch of quick-tip articles here that link back to all the new tips,
strategies, apps and tactics I’m posting over there that will help you sharpen your Twitter chops.
Consider it cross-pollination!