How do we spot fake accounts on Twitter and stay away from spam? This is a question I receive from my Twitter-loving clients, many of whom don’t have a tech background. Here is some social media advice about how you can look at new Twitter followers, before following them back, and how to avoid the spammers.
Look at the name. Twitter fake “users” always have “interesting” names and spelling, in an attempt to make them look “real”. Two of the last ones I reported as spam (pictures attached) were named “Beverly_Inscoe” and “Cecily_Eckmann”. Notice how they use the underscore. Average users won’t add an underscore but their names (or business name). Those particular accounts were probably created in a spam-campaign and, at a closer look, they also sent out the exactly same tweets. Smelling fishy, yet?
Look at the picture. If it looks like a magazine-cut picture, too pretty to be true, or dark and blurred, or an actor head-shot, those are signs that it may be a fake account using a stolen picture. This is the “job” of those websites selling you thousands of followers for $9.99.
Look at the description. Something looks funny there. Either there are far too many hashtags used, or it looks too good to be true. Why should an editor at Vogue follow me? Just use your common sense.
Avoid the ones who promise you followers. “Cecily” says “you can to get more awesome 10000 twitter followers” – yes, this does not sound like proper English. Accounts that promise to sell you fans are fake, and you should report them as spam. There is no such thing as buying Twitter followers. “Buying” fans or followers is a lie and can affect your overall social media marketing. You buy fake accounts from somebody who was smart enough to think about opening thousands of fake accounts. Fans and followers are real connections, people you interact with and learn from.
Look at the numbers. Any serious Twitter user (minus the Queen of England) shows a balance between the number of accounts following her/him, and the number of accounts s/he follows. Those numbers are usually close. Following back is a common practice on Twitter, unless you are really not interested in the content the person posts. Now, the person may have more or less tweets than the following/followers, and that’s ok. It’s not ok if the person has fewer than 100 tweets but thousands of followers. Who gets thousands of followers with just a few sentences?
Look at the tweets. Anything that looks strange and not like a sentence an average person would write is probably fake. Random tweets, random topics, things that won’t seem in agreement with the description of the account (like the person seems to be a 40-year old writer but yells like a Justin Bieber fan). Use your common sense and you’ll spot the fakes right away.
Free tools you can use if an account seems suspicious. I always run suspicious accounts through Status People – Fake Followers Check or through Fake Followers at Social Bakers. If you want to go a bit deeper and see who their followers are, you can also use the Analyzer at Follower Wonk.
Anything you’d like to add to this?
© Simona R. Stefanescu – Simona Media, 2013. All materials published on www.simonamedia.com cannot be reproduced, stored or used without prior written permission of the owner, and cannot be used for profit.