Lately, a lot of clients and people at my presentations have been asking about spammers on Twitter. Yes, there are tons of spammers on Twitter these days as the site gets closer to the number of members that make a site “mainstream”. If we’re all there, so are the spammers. But don’t get discouraged- more than ever, you will find thought leaders, business leaders, politicians, social causes and just plain great people on Twitter (just check out the Find People search page, or go to search.twitter.com for advanced additional filters to help you on your quest for yummy Twitter friend goodness!).
The next question that comes from this discussion is what to look for in someone you should or should not follow back. This is highly subjective based on your personal interests, line of work, sensitivity to colorful comments, etc. Some people who are using Twitter just for social fun will keep their profiles private and not connect with too many people. Others, who use the site for marketing purposes (this is the advice we give to clients) should follow back most people who follow them- you want your network of relationships to be as large as possible. Here are some things I evaluate when deciding who to follow back:
1. Is the profile obscene? It takes a whole lot to phase me, but if your username contains the work Kitty, or anything else too over the top you’re probably a spammer. By the same token, if your avatar is just plain rude I am not only NOT going to follow you back, I am going to block you (I may also report you to twitter.com/spam for the account to be terminated if it’s really bad).
2. Is the Profile an Actual Person? It’s OK to have a business or organization profile, but is there a real person behind it? If every post is a broadcast (that is, not a reply or conversation with other Twitter users), I am not interested. Also, if every post is “come on down and see us!”, “50% off today only!”, “we’ve got the best deals in town!”, forget it. I am not interested in one sided relationships.
3. Does the Profile Have a Lot of Legitimate Followers? This is important to me- There are lots of scripts and programs out there these days by which people may amass or subscribe to thousands of followers who then follow that profile back. That’s no way to build relationships. There are a couple hints that someone has done this: they have a TON (tens of thousands) of followers and very few posts (typically someone is posting very frequently for a very long time to gain that large a number of followers), and / or they are following a lot more people than are following them back.
4. I Watch for People Gaming the System I use Qwitter and Twitter Karma to watch who is following and unfollowing me. Some jerks will mass follow hundreds, even thousands of people and then mass unfollow them so they look to have loads more followers than people they follow. Lame-o.
5. Content If there is just nothing interesting happening on a profile I don’t follow back. That doesn’t mean it has to be the most relevant content- I don’t necessarily want to collect a bunch of people on Twitter with the same perspective, experience, background, etc as me- I like variety, weird, fun, entertaining, serious, business or political related subject matter. I also can’t stand when it’s all “brushed my teeth”, “wearing new shoes”, “I’m bored”, or worse yet, when someone hasn’t tweeted in weeks. THAT’S boring.
Help out the Twitter noobs- What makes a profile appealing to you? What makes you lose interest immediately?