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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

Twitter to start charging users? Here’s what you need to know

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media is trending toward the subscription based model, especially as the pandemic pushes ad revenue down. What does this mean for Twitter users?

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Twitter and other social media apps open on a phone being held in a hand. Will they go to a paid option subscription model?

In an attempt to become less dependent on advertising, Twitter Inc. announced that it will be considering developing a subscription product, as well as other paid options. Here’s the scoop:

  • The ideas for paid Twitter that are being tossed around include tipping creators, the ability to pay users you follow for exclusive content, charging for use of the TweetDeck, features like “undo send”, and profile customization options and more.
  • While Twitter has thought about moving towards paid for years, the pandemic has pushed them to do it – plus activist investors want to see accelerated growth.
  • The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from targeted ads, though Twitter’s ad market is significantly smaller than Facebook and other competitors.
  • The platform’s user base in the U.S. is its most valuable market, and that market is plateauing – essentially, Twitter can’t depend on new American users joining to make money anymore.
  • The company tried user “tips” in the past with its live video service Periscope (RIP), which has now become a popular business model for other companies – and which we will most likely see again with paid Twitter.
  • And yes, they will ALWAYS take a cut of any money being poured into the app, no matter who it’s intended for.

This announcement comes at a time where other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Clubhouse, are also moving towards paid options.

My hot take: Is it important – especially during a pandemic – to make sure that creators are receiving fair compensation for the content that we as users consume? Yes, 100%. Pay people for their work. And in the realm of social media, pictures, memes, and opinions are in fact work. Don’t get it twisted.

Does this shift also symbolize a deviation from the unpaid, egalitarian social media that we’ve all learned to use, consume, and love over the last decade? It sure does.

My irritation stems not from the fact that creators will probably see more return on their work in the future. Or on the principal of free social media for all. It stems from sheer greediness of the social media giants. Facebook, Twitter, and their counterparts are already filthy rich. Like, dumb rich. And guess what: Even though Twitter has been free so far, it’s creators and users alike that have been generating wealth for the company.

So why do they want even more now?

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Social Media

TikTok enters the e-commerce space, ready to compete with Zuckerberg?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Setting up social media for e-commerce isn’t an uncommon practice, but for TikTok this means the next step competing with Facebook and Instagram.

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Couple taking video with mobile phone, prepared for e-commerce.

Adding e-commerce offerings to social media platforms isn’t anything new. However, TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, is rolling out some new e-commerce features that will place the social video app in direct competition with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Instagram.

According to a Financial Times report, TikTok’s new features will allow the platform to create and expand its e-commerce service in the U.S. The new features will allow TikTok’s popular users to monetize their content. These users will be able to promote and sell products by sharing product links in their content. In return, TikTok will profit from the sales by earning a commission.

Among the features included is “live-streamed” shopping. In this mobile phone shopping channel, users can purchase products by tapping on products during a user’s live demo. Also, TikTok plans on releasing a feature that will allow brands to display their product catalogs.

Currently, Facebook has expanded into the e-commerce space through its Facebook Marketplace. In May 2020, it launched Facebook Shops that allows businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram stories into online stores.

But, Facebook hasn’t had too much luck in keeping up with the video platform in other areas. In 2018, the social media giant launched Lasso, its short-form video app. But the company’s TikTok clone didn’t last too long. Last year, Facebook said bye-bye to Lasso and shut it down.

Instagram is trying to compete with TikTok by launching Instagram Reels. This feature allows users to share short videos just like TikTok, but the future of Reels isn’t set in stone yet. By the looks of it, videos on Reels are mainly reposts of video content posted on TikTok.

There is no word on when the features will roll out to influencers on TikTok, but according to the Financial Times report, the social media app’s new features have already been viewed by some people.

TikTok has a large audience that continues to grow. By providing monetization tools in its platform, TikTok believes its new tools will put it ahead of Facebook in the e-commerce game, and help maintain that audience.

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Social Media

Your favorite Clubhouse creators can now ask for your financial support

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Clubhouse just secured new funding – what it means for creators and users of the latest quarantine-based social media darling.

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Woman talking on Clubhouse on her iPhone with a big smile.

Clubhouse – the live-voice chat app that has been taking the quarantined world by storm – has recently announced that it has raised new funding in a Series B round, led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

The app confirms that new funding means compensation for creators; much like the influencers on TikTok and YouTube, now Clubhouse creators will be able to utilize features such as subscriptions, tipping, and ticket sales to monetize their content.

To encourage emerging Clubhouse creators and invite new voices, funding round will also support a promising “Creator Grant Program”.

On the surface, Clubhouse is undoubtedly cool. The invite-only, celebrity-filled niche chatrooms feel utopic for any opinionated individual – or anyone that just likes to listen. At its best, Clubhouse brings to mind collaborative campfire chats, heated lecture-hall debates or informative PD sessions. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m actually obsessed.

And now with its new round, the video chatroom app will not only appear cool but also act as a helpful steppingstone to popular and emerging creators alike. “Creators are the lifeblood of Clubhouse,” said Paul & Rohan, the app’s creators, “and we want to make sure that all of the amazing people who host conversations for others are getting recognized for their contributions.”

Helping creators get paid for their labor in 2021 is a cause that we should 100% get behind, especially if we’re consuming their content.

Over the next few months, Clubhouse will be prototyping their tipping, tickets and subscriptions – think a system akin to Patreon, but built directly into the app.

A feature unique to the app – tickets – will offer individuals and organizations the chance to hold formal discussions and events while charging an admission. Elite Clubhouse rooms? I wonder if I can get a Clubhouse press pass.

Additionally, Clubhouse has announced plans for Android development (the app has only been available to Apple users so far). They are also working on moderation policies after a recent controversial chat sparked uproar. To date, the app has been relying heavily on community moderation, the power of which I’ve witnessed countless times whilst in rooms.

So: Is the golden age of Clubhouse – only possible for a short period while everyone was stuck at home and before the app gained real mainstream traction – now over? Or will this new round of funding and subsequent development give the app a new beginning?

For now, I think it’s safe to say that the culture of Clubhouse will certainly be changing – what we don’t know is if the changes will make this cream-of-the-crop app even better, or if it’ll join the ranks of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in being another big-time social media staple.

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