Authenticity on Twitter

Posted on by in Authenticity, Controversy, Twitter

I was working on another post all week and experiencing some challenges with the commerce side of a product connected to it. In the meantime, I’ve been reading a lot of articles on some of my favorite South African blogs and I found quite a bit talking about Twitter.

Some questions are arising when it comes to authenticity of Twitter accounts, both with regards to agencies doing work for brands and social media guru’s and consultants. Some questions needing to be asked are:

  • How many followers on an account are true and how many are fake?
  • How are accounts being built with regards to follower numbers?
  • What is the value of engagement on the Twitter account with potential customers?
  • What is the influence of the brands Twitter account in regards to their followers?

When you have a digital media company, you’re a social media consultant/guru/service provider, I think those are pertinent questions that needs to be asked. Not just for the professionals providing the service, but also for the brands or businesses that are customers of such services.

What is the big deal?

I ask this question because of what a very prominent South African blogger replied when one of these authenticity issues were raised.

It doesn’t matter if they buy followers. These options are well known on the Internet. Also, it is hardly fraud. No-one gives a f#@*.

And the reply would naturally be, sure, but what about the impression you’re creating that you’re ‘SO FAMOUS’ or ‘POPULAR’, especially when it comes to brands. And especially when brands hire services of digital companies and those companies cite the Twitter followers as part of their success (of the campaign).

I’m working on a pretty big online media account right now, and when In spoke to the brand manager I said this:

Look, I can buy followers, I can get you 10k – 100k followers by tomorrow. But what would that benefit you as a brand. And what feather is it in my hat if I bought them. Sure, we have 130 followers on Twitter. but we spent day and night interacting  with people on Twitter, searching for targeted conversations and provided the kind of value to them that they followed us without having coaxed them: ‘Follow me and I’ll follow back!’

Do you see what the issue is here? I may not have 10k followers on this account, but I know every 130 followers on Twitter followed me because they received value from me and are truly interested to hear what the brand have to say.

I don’t mind if a (South African) brand  has hundreds or even (only)  thousands of followers. I really don’t, because it probably means that those followers are real, valuable to the brand what viral promotion is concerned and interactive. I spoke to a marketing manager for a creative liquor company around 2 years back who told me he doesn’t think social media is viable. He then cited FHM who at the time had 25k followers, which for a large media syndicated magazine seems little to him. To me, I think it’s authentic, since they could, with their marketing capital, and low cost of buying (Geo) targeted Twitter followers, buy a million followers if they wanted to.

I sat across the table of a big marketing company late last year and one of the managers showed off a Facebook Page for a brand they opened around the same time I opened one for one of my customers. We have 300 fans and she has 3500. I was dumbfounded. ‘How did you grow it that fast?’ I asked. ‘Something or the other and a competition’. Sitting there, sharing a promotion plan (which they still haven’t signed off on), I wondered: ‘How the hell did she do that? I run very targeted Facebook ads, we engage the platform every day and use the best content suggestion and production tools in the industry, and we freshen up our tactics with training as soon as things change.

Problem may be when I spoke of viral marketing and she said Buyral, I wondered: ‘That’s not what I said…’. When I realized what it was when I read the company’s Twitter feed linking to a company that actually makes your Youtube video viral with people clicking on it the whole day.  ‘That’s probably how she got the 3500 fans in 3 months’? That’s what I thought. I know about all those platforms and I’m still not disappointed that I used it.

Authenticity for saving face.

Having read a recent report regarding FollowerGate (Instance of fraud on Twitter), reports surfaced of media companies and celebrities like Kirsty Bisset of Patron fame and Gorilla Creative Media owner John Wallace caught with their pants down, when an algorithm driven platform revealed that both had large numbers of fake followers.

Kirsty Bisset: 70% fake
Gorilla Creative Media: 66% fake

So has Peerindex’s CEO, Azeem Azhar, been caught out when it was revealed he bought 20k followers to boost his profile. In 24 hours? What would it take him to engage with people, and providing value should be your CHIEF concern or function. Joe Fernandez of rival Klout has 12k odd and seems ok with the amount.

[Reading further into the story, seems Azeem did a ‘test’ and posted the results]

So looking at the above renditions I want to take a look at some of the accounts I have been working on.

My Twitter accounts.

Fake folowers

Let’s discuss my personal Twitter account. What I did at first with this account I personally own or managed earlier last year, I grew my following by following people related to the niche of the account. Later, when working with the accounts of brands, I changed my outlook and told the digital platform manager responsible for the account  that we will not be using ‘follow me and I’ll follow you’  account building (because we used to do it like that – many professional do!).

We search Geo targeted keywords around brands and engage, providing value. I’ve only started doing this on my personal account and I’m happier. I know my followers and know what they want from me. after doing the test that outed the above professionals, the above is the result. I would probably be able to get rid of that 1% by using a platofrm called UnTweeps. More on that later in the post.

Follower value

This is the account for the award winning blog Authobublisher. I built this Twitter account with reputation. good content, follow me-follow you methods. Recently, I started deleting accounts I don’t know (of) personally as I did with my personal account above. I was surprised to see no fake followers which may seem that there’s some value in the account, even thought the follower ratio is one-to-one.

Value of Twitter account 2The above account is for a customer’s brand account I’m working on. They have little followers, but as I explained above, we’re concentrating on quality instead of quantity. Again, I will look at the inactive followers using Untweeps (to be discussed below).

Tools I suggest should be used: Value and authenticity.

I have been around a long time, and there’s tools that work, and tools that are not effective for what we’re trying to achieve. When it relates to this post, these are the tools I suggest should be used to create a clean, authentic and valuable account.

  • Socialbro - This is a great analytics tool for Twitter. You can browse your community, find the best time to Tweet according to your community, there are insights which is a great as a metric tool to help target your marketing properly, filter, sort and manage your Twitter lists. Most valuable about this platform is that it has a free version which we use to produce reports each month for us to look at and present to our clients.
  • Social Metrics Pro – This is my best social metrics plugin. Not only does it show me the social activity on all my posts on a daily basis, it also helps me with contests so I can track the social signals on posts. This is also valuable as it shows you through colors which posts are doing well socially and tips on how to fix it. I found particularly valuable the ecourse Daniel Tan send you via email to teach you a lot of tools and tricks AFTER you bought the plugin.
  • Klout - They’re openly calling themselves the measure of influence and integrates, among others, Twitter and Facebook to give you a score on how valuable your interactions are online. I use a plugin on Firefox which gives me the Klout score of each Twitterer I look at within the timeline. Pretty neat!
  • Status People – This is the tool from which I captured the images I used above. When you sign in via authentication or just putting other Twitter users profiles in the search bar, you get results like the above: Which accounts following you are fake, which are inactive and which are genuine. A very useful tool indeed!
  • iUnfollow – This platform allows you to unfollow every Twitter user that does not follow you. If that is your strategy, this tool is useful. I used it before to build account. Follow people, after a while, I’ll unfollow those that don’t follow me. I DO NOT suggest you use this method. They allow a certain amount per day and more for a payment plan.
  • UnTweeps – This platform is especially useful in eradicating old and stale accounts. I.o.w people that do not add value. They eradicate people that, for instance, haven’t Tweeted for more than 30 days. It’s a great way to keep your account full of fresh and active followers. You cannot mass unfollow (it’s against Twitter terms and conditions), so you’ll have to tick boxes next to all inactive followers.

Marketing takeaway

If you have a Twitter account just for the sake of having it and you don’t care about the value of your followers, then the above shouldn’t be a problem for you. However, if we look at Twitter as a marketing platform for brands or to funnel customers through to a product, we need to look at what we are doing when growing the account.

We need to be able to look at each Twitter follower and say they are Rx amount worth to us. And for companies hiring consultant and service companies should see a definite ROI on their investment to justify the expenditure.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts around bought followers? What do you think constitutes a valuable Twitter follower? Have you given more weight to what a Twitter user said before because he had a lot of followers?

Photo credit: assbach / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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16 Responses to “Authenticity on Twitter”

  1. TracyAnn0312

    11. Jan, 2013

    Wow! These is the first time I have learn new ideas like these again. Thank you for sharing it.
    TracyAnn0312 recently equipmentMy Profile

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  2. Mo-Ya'eesh

    11. Jan, 2013

    Another good article & a topic that many digital marketing guru’s won’t explore further because they’re guilty of the fact. In the Property field, it’s becoming a massive issue. When people hand over business to a brand based on their perceived ‘Klout’ on various Social Media channels, then this technically fraud. I’ve encountered it on Twitter as well as Facebook in the last 2 months. Depressing stuff

    Reply to this comment
  3. Rusty from Rustenburg
    Twitter: rustenburgbiz

    12. Jan, 2013

    Hi Ivin, glad you have started to discuss this topic as I am really confuse on the benefits of having real and fake followers. I came across this site fi**rr (no offense for people selling gig on this site) telling that they are going to give you 5k-10k followers in just one night for the amount of 5$.. I was thinking why people are so dumb to buy such fake followers and even FB likes when they can’t really have such real traffic back to their site.
    Rusty recently posted..SpurMy Profile

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  4. Aayna from Edinburgh Removals

    14. Jan, 2013

    Hey Ivin,
    Buying followers or fans puts an end to the very meaning of a fan. Followers is bought, will never reflect the true views and opinion about the blog, the content or anything. Just to get the backlinks, many indulge in the creepy exercise of buying followers, which in my opinion is bad and should not be done. You have provided here great tips. Thanks for the share.
    Aayna recently posted..Kim Wilde Drunk Christmas Impromtu Performance on British RailMy Profile

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  5. Fatima from photoshop cs6 training

    16. Jan, 2013

    Followers and fans are earned not bought and only then they sustain otherwise the fame can be short-lived. Integrity should be top most priority. Great advise; thanks for sharing.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Vianney from gazebos

    22. Jan, 2013

    Hi Ivin! It was nice reading your post. You’re absolutely right! it will definitely feel right to have many followers, however, it’ll better if they do it out of free will. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Arianne from balinese hut

    23. Jan, 2013

    Buying followers isn’t really a good idea. You may have a huge number of followers, but it won’t actually do you more good. Followers should be earned. They follow you, because they’re interested in you. And when their interested in you, you will have your chance to interact with them, best is they’re real. Great share!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Kent
    Twitter: no6clinic

    26. Feb, 2013

    It’s a bit frustrating when you sometimes try to engage in Twitter conversation with someone and get no response. You then look deeper and find they are either automated tweets or fake account.
    Kent recently posted..leg vein treatment tunbridge wellsMy Profile

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