Are the majority of your Twitter followers real? It’s hard to tell these days as bot makers work very hard to make their automated accounts seem like average users. Unfortunately, it’s all a ruse and eventually those bots will spam you or sneak in some unsavory links. Often, these bots follow random people in order to make them appear less suspicious when used to artificially inflate the numbers on an account that pays $20 for an extra 10,000 followers.
This fact hasn’t escaped clever users as they critique a user’s follower list. Believe it or not, your followers (and the people you’ve followed back) can have an impact on how a potential employer or advertiser views your account. If you appear to follow everyone back who follows you without regard of their being real, then you can come across as someone more interested in getting numbers through followbacks than genuine interest in the social feeds of the people you follow.
Likewise, a company’s account shouldn’t be followed almost exclusively by bots as it is a sure sign that the company is artificially inflating its social influence. These types of matters are important to public figures and bloggers using the platform to talk directly with their audience.
So how can you tell if your Twitter followers are real or fake?
TwitterAudit.com is one solution. It weighs your account against the ones you follow — and the ones that follow you — in order to determine if your account is genuine or botty. It’s a fairly reliable system for determining an account’s actual influence based on the types of people who follow it, and tools like this are used by marketing agencies as they weigh whether or not sending review units to you would be worthwhile. If you’re a blogger, this is an important tool to keep an eye on.
A good percentage to shoot for when you have under 100,000 followers would be between 70 and 100. For larger accounts, the average tends to slip down to the 50-80% mark as mass amounts of people (including bots) follow them based on their appearing in friends’ follower lists as well. Paris Hilton’s account was rated at 52% genuine as of the last time I checked. That doesn’t make her less influential, but it does explain why over two million people would follow her.
Do Some Research Before Following Back
We posed this question to our community on Twitter, and Mitchell Harris responded with a very sage piece of advice, “I usually check their tweets, and their follower count is a good indication.” Just by taking the time to see what someone generally tweets about (or if they tweet at all) and who their followers are can give you a good idea of exactly what type of user they are. If their account page is filled with @replies, you can expect either a ton of replies from this person or that their account is typically used as a messaging stream. If those replies almost always have links in them, then it’s probably a spammy bot.
What is your method for keeping the bots out of your stream? Leave a comment below and let us know.