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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

Why Trump’s lawsuit against social media still matters

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Former President Trump snagged headlines for suing every large social media platform, and it has gone quiet, but it still deeply matters.

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It was splashed across headlines everywhere in July: Former President Trump filed a lawsuit against social media platforms that he claims unrightfully banned him during and after the fallout of the January 6th capitol riots. The headlines ran for about a week or so and then fell off the radar as other, fresher, just-as-juicy news headlines captured the media’s eye.

Many of us were left wondering what that was all about and if anything ever became of it. For even more of us, it probably passed out of our minds completely. Lack of public awareness for these things is common after the initial media blitz fades.

Lawsuits like these in the US can take months, if not years between newsworthy milestones. The most recent news I could find as of this publishing is from August 24, 2021, on Yahoo! News from the Washington Examiner discussing the Trump camp’s request for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit.

This particular suit shouldn’t be left to fade from memory in the shadows though, and here’s why:

In the past few years, world powers have been reigning in regulations on social media and internet commerce. The US is actually a little behind the curve. Trump may have unwittingly given us a source of momentum to get with the times.

In the European Union, they have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), widely acknowledged to be one of the toughest and most thorough privacy laws in the world, a bold title. China just passed its own pair of laws in the past four months: The Data Security Law, which took effect on Sept. 1, and The Personal Information Law, set to take effect November 1st. The pair is poised to give the GDPR a run for its money for that title.

Meanwhile, in the US, Congress has been occupied with other things and, while there are five bills that took aim at tech monopoly currently on the table and a few CEOs had to answer some questions, little actual movement or progress has been made on making similar privacy protections a thing in the United States.

Trump’s lawsuit, while labeled by many as a toothless public relations move, may actually create momentum needed to push regulation of tech and social media forward in the US. The merits of the case are weak and ultimately the legislation that would give it teeth doesn’t exist yet.

You can’t hold tech companies accountable to a standard that doesn’t properly exist in law.

However, high profile attention and someone willing to continue to make noise and bring attention back to the subject, one of Trump’s strongest talents, could be “just what the doctor ordered” to inspire Congress to make internet user rights and data privacy a priority in the US, finally.

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Social Media

Even solopreneurs are doing live commerce online – it’s not just QVC’s game anymore

(SOCIAL MEDIA) When you think of watching a show and buying things in real time, it invokes thoughts of QVC, but social media video has changed all that.

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After the year everyone has had, one wouldn’t be remiss in thinking that humanity wants a break from live streaming. They would, however, be wrong: Live online commerce – a method of conversion first normalized in China – is the next evolution of the ubiquitous e-commerce experience, which means it’s something you’ll want on your radar.

Chinese company, Alibaba first live streamed on an e-commerce site in 2016, allowing buyers to watch, interact with, and buy from sellers from the comfort of their homes. In 2020, that same strategy netted Alibaba $7.5 billion in presale revenue – and it only took 30 minutes, according to McKinsey Digital.

But, though western audiences have proven a desire to be just as involved with sellers during the buying process, live commerce hasn’t taken off here the way it has elsewhere. If e-commerce merchants want to maximize their returns in the next few years, that needs to change.

McKinsey Digital points out a couple of different benefits for organizations using live commerce, the main one being an influx in traffic. Live streaming events break the buying experience mold, and consumers love being surprised. You can expect that prospective buyers who wouldn’t necessarily visit your store under normal circumstances would find value in attending a live event.

Live events also keep people on your site for longer, resulting in richer conversion opportunities.

The sense of urgency inherent in in-person shopping doesn’t always translate to online markets, but having a stream showing decreasing inventory or limited-availability items being sold inspires people to act expeditiously rather than sitting on a loaded cart–something that can kill an e-commerce conversion as quickly as it starts one.

There are a ton of different ways to incorporate live events into your e-commerce campaigns. Virtual auctions are popular, as are markets in which individual sellers take buyers through inventory. However, the live event could be tangentially related–or even just something impressive running in parallel with the sale–and still bring in a swell of revenue.

Screen fatigue is real, and there isn’t a true substitute for a brick-and-mortar experience when done correctly. But if you have an e-commerce shop that isn’t utilizing some form of live entertainment–even just to bring in new buyers–you’re going to want to try this strategy soon.

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Social Media

LinkedIn is nixing Stories this month (LinkedIn had Stories!?)

(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn tried to be like the cool kids and launched “Stories,” but the video feature is being shelved and “reimagined.” Ok.

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Creating the next big thing is essential for social networks to stay relevant, continue growing, and avoid shutting down. Sometimes, this leads to businesses trying to ride along with the success of another app’s latest feature and creating their cloned version. While the logic of recreating something already working makes sense, the results aren’t universal.

This time around, LinkedIn is saying goodbye to its short-lived Snapchat-like video product, Stories. In a company post, LinkedIn says it’s removing its Stories experience by the end of September.

Why is LinkedIn retiring Stories?

According to a post by Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn Liz Li, “[LinkedIn] introduced Stories last year as a fun and casual way to share quick video updates.”

After some testing and feedback, they learned this is not what users wanted. Seems like they could have beta tested with users and heard the same thing, but I digress.

“In developing Stories, we assumed people wouldn’t want informal videos attached to their profile, and that ephemerality would reduce barriers that people feel about posting. Turns out, you want to create lasting videos that tell your professional story in a more personal way and that showcase both your personality and expertise,” said Li.

What does this mean for users?

Starting on September 30, 2021, users will no longer be able to create Stories for Pages. If you’ve already planned to have an image or video ads run in-between Stories, they will now appear on the LinkedIn feed instead. For those who used Campaign Manager to promote or sponsor a Story directly from your Page, the company says “these paid Stories will not appear in the LinkedIn feed”, and the user will need to recreate the ad in Campaign Manager.

What’s next for LinkedIn?

According to Li, LinkedIn is taking what it learned from its finding to “evolve the Stories format into a reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that’s even richer and more conversational.” It plans on doing so by using mixed media and the creative tools of Stories.

“As we reimagine what is next, we’re focusing on how we can provide you with a short-form, rich interactive video format that is unique to our platform and that better helps you reach and engage your audiences on LinkedIn. We’re always excited to try out new things and learn as we go, and will continue to share updates along the way,” the company said.

Although Stories didn’t work well for LinkedIn as they hoped, one thing is for sure. LinkedIn isn’t giving up on some form of interactive video, and we can only hope they “reimagine” something unique that keeps users coming back for more.

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