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Emails selling you Twitter followers is just spam, don’t buy

You’ve learned to ignore “SEO expert” spam, now learn to ignore people selling you social media followers. It’s all spam.

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fail whale

fail whale

Same stuff, different day

Remember in 2006 or 2007 when you began getting emails from SEO “experts” (not the legitimate experts, mind you) who kindly noticed that you were not number one in Google for your preferred search terms? Remember the thought of “ooh, I want to be at the top of Google,” and the follow up thought that you should respond? Then, do you remember in 2009 when you got this same generic email every day and calls to your phone that promise riches and glory by getting you to number one in Google, and you rolled your eyes as you still do today?

Fast forward to 2012 and the new scheme is to get you to buy followers on Facebook and Twitter. These companies run a script or add you to a list of people that automatically follow back, and for their seconds of effort, you pay an average $0.25 per follower.

If you haven’t gotten the emails yet, you are lucky, but just wait a few weeks, they’re on their way to an inbox near you, and they’re ready to take your money without having anything to back up their claims. Let’s look at one example that I received this week (and keep reading for all of the problems with this email):

All italics are my notes and were not included in the original email:

“Hi Lani (well, she got that right),

Your active presence on twitter, @laniar (okay, that’s right), is ahead of many agents that I work with, nice job (thanks, but I’m not an agent, which is extremely clear from my Twitter bio)! What are you doing to increase your social proof by increasing your follower count? I help agents like you (umm) improve their presence and influence with additional followers. 1,000 new followers which will push your follow count to over 8,540 (good math, but with over 7k followers, do you really think I need to pay you to get me more?)! The more followers you have, the more people will see you as you want them to – an influencer and expert agent, driving sales (super fail, I’m not an agent, but even if I was, if you were an expert, you’d know I’ve been on Twitter since before you had heard of it, ma’am).

You don’t pay until the new followers are delivered in full. Normally $0.40 per follower, right now only less than $0.10 per follower or $95 for 1,000 delivered within 3 days (oh wow, what a deal). If you are interested in more we can discuss. Again, you do not pay until the followers have arrived.

Any questions please let me know. No password information is required – never give out your password to anyone (except for your “app” or team? Thanks for the super obvious security tip, stranger who is soliciting money from me).

I look forward to helping you get the edge over the competition.

Best,

Dina
WNTBA Marketing
Whatever Needs to be Accomplished

Let’s talk about the obvious

First and foremost, I immediately reached out to Dina and asked what her Twitter handle was, since I cannot locate anything on her or her “company” online or on Twitter. Radio silence, of course.

This new scheme does not take into account their target, their target’s needs, nor are they able to prove their own abilities with social media. Google the company name, and you’ll find their website, which is simply the letters “wntba” in the middle of the page with no additional information – no blog, no Twitter, no contact information, no words, just five letters with nothing to click.

When you get these kind of emails, ask for them to prove their own merit. They will not because they cannot. I am considering a rude standardized email response that says “If your Klout beats mine, we’ll talk,” and attach this picture:
klout score

The unsolicited email is spam in my book, and the email address used is not linked to my Twitter account, so through Gmail, it has been marked as spam – just doing my part.

You’ve learned to ignore spam from “SEO experts,” and next on the list is invisible people offering to sell you social media followers, never mind the Terms of Service of each network, and never mind that the quality cannot possibly be high. If you consider buying followers, do they even live in your market or hell, your country? Are they interested in your services? Are they real people? Are they in your target demographic? Are they established Twitter accounts?

Chances are, people like Dina cannot answer your questions sufficiently, because the plan is usually to simply to put you on a #followback list and rake in the dough. I highly recommend building your own network organically, as it is the only proven method for lead generation.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. ScottAllen1

    August 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I totally get what you’re saying, but I’ll also say that, all other things being equal, more followers has advantages over less followers, even if the followers are fakes/bots/auto-follows. It’s easy to sit there from a position of 7K+ loyal real followers, having been on Twitter for…how many years now?… and not feel the plight/frustration of someone who’s just starting out at this.
     
    Having worked with dozens of individuals and businesses who are in this position, I’ve found that “artificial” boosts to follower counts / Facebook likes, etc., boost your visibility to “real” followers, possible customers, etc. Visibility begets visibility.That said, this letter IS spam, and as you pointed out, takes advantage of people’s ignorance. Gaining more Twitter followers is pretty simple:1. Auto-follow people who follow you, using something like SocialOomph.
    2. Include #followback or #teamfollowback in some of your tweets and maybe even your profile.
    3. Join Empire Avenue and run missions for followers/likes/retweets, etc. (I prefer this over just social exchanges because there’s actually more social interaction on it).
    4. Social exchanges like YouLikeHits (there are dozens of others – this is just one of the more reputable/reliable ones).
    5. If you want a cheap, easy boost, look on Fiverr. There you can get 1,000 followers for FIVE dollars vs. $95(!) in this letter.

  2. ScottAllen1

    August 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I totally get what you’re saying, but I’ll also say that, all other things being equal, more followers has advantages over less followers, even if the followers are fakes/bots/auto-follows. It’s easy to sit there from a position of 7K+ loyal real followers, having been on Twitter for…how many years now?… and not feel the plight/frustration of someone who’s just starting out at this.
    Having worked with dozens of individuals and businesses who are in this position, I’ve found that “artificial” boosts to follower counts / Facebook likes, etc., boost your visibility to “real” followers, possible customers, etc. Visibility begets visibility.That said, this letter IS spam, and as you pointed out, takes advantage of people’s ignorance. Gaining more Twitter followers is pretty simple:
     
    1. Auto-follow people who follow you, using something like SocialOomph.
    2. Include #followback or #teamfollowback in some of your tweets and maybe even your profile.
    3. Join Empire Avenue and run missions for followers/likes/retweets, etc. (I prefer this over just social exchanges because there’s actually more social interaction on it).
    4. Social exchanges like YouLikeHits (there are dozens of others – this is just one of the more reputable/reliable ones).
    5. If you want a cheap, easy boost, look on Fiverr. There you can get 1,000 followers for FIVE dollars vs. $95(!) in this letter.
     

    • Tinu

      August 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

       @ScottAllen1 While it’s true that no one wants to go to a party that no one is at, it doesn’t take thousands of followers to boost a profile artificially. As much as I believe it’s better to slowly and organically grow your Twitter profile, to have the maximum value per follower, and keep your results metrics clean, I *do* get why people do it. But instead of feeding the culture that says more followers are better, shouldn’t we show the proof that real followers are best? Because the reality is, adding dead followers throws any study you’re doing for conversion, engagement, learning about the people who like your brand, etc, WAY off. It’s better to cultivate your following slowly and/or organically, and announce it later, when you have the numbers.
       
      In either case, I personally am against buying followers to inflate numbers – not just because I lean towards being a social media purist.  You don’t know what you’re buying. Not to mention, the price Lani Rosales  quoted is just plain WRONG. That’s an explioitive price. There are plenty of auto-follow lists out there that a person could use to add 100 -1000 Twitter followers if they want to make themselves look more important than that are. AND  those accounts may provide services, rather than cluttering ones stream with things they don’t want to read. So if you need the artificial boost for your ego, there you go. I just don’t see a sound justification for buying them. 

      • ScottAllen1

        August 1, 2012 at 11:54 pm

         @Tinu  Lani Rosales 
        My job…my obligation…to my clients as a consultant is not to take the moral high ground and refuse to feed the culture that says more followers are better. My moral obligation is to provide my clients with the most effective tactics within their budget. If that happens to include “inorganic” means of acquiring followers, likes, etc., I have no problem with that.Now, I don’t lie to them… I make very clear to them what their options are, and what the consequences of those options are.  Also, I’m very clear that this tactic is NOT about impressing people with how many followers you have, but a means of gaining additional real visibility.  Also, my recommendations vary greatly from one situation to the next. I certainly wouldn’t advocate this for everyone, but I’m not going to rule it out if I know it works.BTW, just out of curiosity, I checked on Fiverr, and I found one gig that will get you 22,000 “real-looking” followers for $5, and another one that will get you 500 real human followers for $5, with no auto-follow required. So yeah, $95 is a ridiculously exploitative price. I think we can all agree on that.  🙂 

        • Tinu

          August 2, 2012 at 9:55 am

          @ScottAllen1 @Lani Rosales I didn’t say anything about the moral high ground — I’m talking about results. In tests I’ve performed and observed, artificially inflating accounts doesn’t do any additional good, and in some cases does harm. I’m also not advising you on how to run your business, I’m sure you’ll do what you want. But only hard evidence to the contrary of what I’ve seen is going to convince me that this is a good idea. It’s a matter of logic and testing, not morality. Not to mention that I never said I *morally* disapprove. I simply believe in not having my clients pay me to do them what the facts have shown me is a disservice. You’ve obviously found differently, but I disagree.

    • laniar

      August 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

       @ScottAllen1 you and I have had this debate over the years, and I stand by my position against buying followers or using scripts to gain followers. I see you still feel the same as you did years ago, and that’s fine, so we can agree to disagree. 🙂 

      • Joe Loomer

        August 2, 2012 at 7:27 am

         @laniar I think the missing point here is there’s more than one approach that works. I don’t (and won’t) pay for followers on any social media platform until I know that it will make me more money. I prefer the hard work approach.  There are, as Scott said, other folks out there without a measure of social media savvy that would prefer to gain that presence through hiring talent.  If they have the resources to do so (and therefore get that time back in their own business day), then more power to them.  I’m just not one of them. 

        • Tinu

          August 2, 2012 at 9:56 am

          @Joe Loomer @laniar Sure there’s more than one approach that works. I just haven’t seen Evidence that this one does.

  3. CaryBlumenfeld

    August 3, 2012 at 11:14 am

    @ChrisHLeader The article you posted about twitter is dead on. I completely agree.

  4. idreamsocial

    August 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

    @ChrisHLeader Exactly, what’s the point in having followers if there not interested in you or what you sell.

  5. joostharmsen

    August 16, 2012 at 6:24 am

    yeah tell me about it.. i don’t know how i got is, but i have a lot of followers on twitter that are spam… do you know how i can stop this? 🙂

  6. Pingback: Narrow: brand spankin' new tool helps grow your Twitter following - The American Genius

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Social Media

Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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Should you be Facebook friends with your boss?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are there times when it makes sense to connect with your boss and team on Facebook? Or is LinkedIn enough?

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facebook friends

Just as we learn, grow, and change in life, so does our use of social media platforms and technology in general. It makes sense though – when hot new programs come out and “everybody’s doing it” (thinking of you MySpace and Plaxo), it’s easy to create a user profile to see what you think of the platform.

You may be a heavy user at first (looking at you Facebook) and then back off, only to use it for certain functions (Groups and Events for example). In the interim, you may have joined Instagram because for some reason it seemed simpler and light-hearted. And don’t let the new, shiny things coming out pass you by without at least seeing if you like them, or if they help entertain you and connect you to loved ones (looking at you Snapchat and TikTok).

Amongst some doubt of new or potential users in the mid-2000s after Facebook opened up to those outside of universities, we have to admit that Facebook has had a longevity that some of the other platforms have not. It allows you to keep your personal network in one place as well as your photos, significant dates, your career changes, events, and even see what your cousins are up to. It almost feels like once you’re invested, it’s hard to get out.

The thing is, there is definitely a grey area on who you accept as a “friend”. It really is up to each person’s comfort level on who they want to be connected to, and how much sharing they do on the platform. This article isn’t going to address Facebook privacy concerns and data sharing, but we do encourage you to look in to those if that is something that is important to you. It’s a similar idea with LinkedIn – some people are happy to connect with anyone and everyone, while others prefer to keep their connections to those they personally know and/or have worked with.

This story is addressing a question as it relates to an article in Inc. about whether or not is it’s ok for managers and employees to be “Facebook friends”, and some other tricky professional situations. We have to look at few things first, including the evolution of our use.

Since Facebook was made available to everyone, we have gone from a simple profile picture, relationship status (oof), and random updates about our breakfast/dentist appointments, to joining interest groups, sharing news articles, promoting brands and memes at a mind-boggling rate. Many people have considered deleting their Facebook profiles due to a high level of negativity, privacy concerns over their data and pictures, and how ultimately, scrolling your newsfeed can be a total time suck.

Many stay on because they are in groups (like super amazing, supportive, and popular ones such as Austin Digital Jobs) that they enjoy, and it’s a way to stay connected with others. This has felt true especially during COVID-19 where many people have lost their social outlets, networking opportunities, and have not been able to get together in person. Social media has also been a useful platform for small business owners and entrepreneurs to run a business page at minimal costs (free unless they run advertising), and reach out to customers. Facebook (owner of Instagram) also seems to have been making strides this year to better support small business owners.

So, should you be Facebook friends with your boss?

That is up to you (we are not here to tell you how to run your life) and while many have said, “Nope” in a super unofficial survey of 30 respondents, there were a couple of interesting perspectives:

“Since I’m my boss, twist on my answer… I don’t yes any professional that asks to be FB friends. That’s what my page is for. I even have a canned response that says this because I get so many asks. My personal FB is for actual friends of mine. I didn’t want to yes my MIL either. I have her on the restricted list.”

“I guess it depends. I’m friends with my boss and most of my coworkers. Creative shop within a corporation … about 45 strong. We are tight.”

“If you love your job and you love your boss then I think it is ok. I work 2 part-time jobs and both of my bosses are amazing! I am friends and Facebook friends with both of them.”

“I’m fine. I don’t post much on Facebook anymore. My bosses are all fairly chill. ”

“I have been Facebook friends with previous bosses while they were my boss. I am not with my current boss, but I’d be fine with it if we were. I don’t post anything too crazy, and I tend to over share in the office already. I like to be an open book. Tiktok would be different though… ”

For some who are part of a start-up or smaller team where collaboration and getting to know one another  are supported (thinking teams of 10 or less, hey AG Staff Writers), this may be more of the ‘norm’ and acceptable. However, the majority of people do not want to be “Facebook friends” with their boss to draw a line between work and personal sharing. Many people also mentioned that it varied if they chose to be Facebook friends with their colleagues, although they seem to be more open to colleagues vs. direct supervisors.

This seems to reflect back on how you use Facebook and if sharing your weekend or family photos is not something you want everyone to see. On the flip side, if you’re not sharing much, maybe you’d be OK with being connected there. A more professional way of connecting with your supervisor and others at work is through LinkedIn, and is in fact, highly encouraged.

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Could TikTok soon be banned in the U.S for privacy breaching?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok, a video content social media giant, has been deemed a potential national security risk by the U.S Federal government.

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TikTok is banned

U.S lawmakers are calling for a full investigation into TikTok, the fifteen second video app with almost 180 million downloads, after expressing concerns of a privacy breach by the Chinese government.

TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, purchased the platform originally known as musical.ly in November 2017. Since then the social media app worth an estimated $150 billion has almost 180 million downloads in the U.S, and 800 million downloads worldwide.

According to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the U.S has reason to believe the Beijing-based company, ByteDance, may have been coerced into handing over data to China’s communist leaders. The app’s Founder, Zhang Yiming, and TikTok’s spokesperson responded to the accusations with the following statement: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

We don’t know if we believe you TikTok.

TikTok received over 500 legal demands, including emergency requests, in the first six months of 2020. TikTok has also previously confirmed that the app stores user data on “U.S-based servers” withdrawn from phone downloads. Information includes IP addresses, messages, location information, and according to Pompeo, “sensitive information”, exposed by data breaching that disregards American rights to privacy and potentially violates national security guidelines.

Company employees may live in the U.S, but with its head of operations stationed in Beijing, pressure from the Chinese Government to provide user information is a very serious concern for Americans using the app. 41 percent of its users are part of Generation Z, a highly influential, social media-friendly age group, ranging between 16 and 24.

A sense of invincibility within this age range encourages users to use the app without caution of personal information that may be provided or derived off your phone after installation. In the past two years, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have also been criticized for not abiding to lawful privacy standards.

ByteDance has halted the use of its corporate office in Beijing and is looking to establish headquarters within the U.S or under new management.

The U.S. government is seriously considering banning the use of TikTok.

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