Still wondering why people follow me on Twitter

Last year, I wrote a couple of posts exploring the reasons why people follow me on Twitter:

Well a year has passed since I did that basic research, and Twitter has been ‘improved’ in the meantime – revised ReTweet function, Lists, new desktop and mobile application, etc.

So it’s time to ask that question again. In the last year, I’ve doubled the number of followers, but since I did my last bit of research, I’ve not asked them why they follow. Time to rectify that.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll go back to the process I used to gather the first bit of data — a return follow and DM to my new followers — something like this:

“thanks for following me. This is NOT an auto-DM, I’m live :)and tracking ‘reach’ and was wondering why you ‘follow’ me in Twitter?”

I’ll let it run for a few months, and come March, I’ll analyse the data again, and contrast the results with last year’s.

But in the meantime, if you already follow me on Twitter, please feel free to send me a DM with your answer to the question “Why do you follow me in Twitter?”

Getting Twitter Spam? Here’s how I deal with it

This is the second part of a post series I started a few days ago, dealing with Twitter spam.

What got me thinking about it was the recent spate of incoming DM tweets from trus­ted people I follow. I received another one this morning.

I’m coming at it from the perspective that it’s not deliberate. Rather, these unwitting spammer’s have fallen vic­tim to diabolically-crafted account phish­ing schemes and their Twit­ter accounts are now compromised and sending spam without the real account owner’s knowledge. As such, I always give owners of spamming accounts the benefit of the doubt, once. Only once.

Part Two — How to deal with Twitter spam

If it’s a normally trusted user sending spam DMs
A spam DM (Direct Message) can only come from someone you follow. You can only reply via DM if you, in turn, follow that account. This is why it’s such a disappointment when you receive spam from a trusted source…but remember, at this point we believe the account has been compromised.

The process I use is rather simple yet it gives the account owner a chance to:

  • recover control of the account,
  • let their followers know what’s happening,
  • continue to be a responsible member of the Twitter community.

Alert the spamming account
First contact the spamming account. I do this through DM to allow them to safe face, and deal with the issue in their own way and timeframe.

  • Let them know the account has been compromised
  • Ask them to change their password, so the spammer can’t get back in
  • Ask them to review outgoing DMs to see who was spammed, to alert their community and verify that they indeed did send the spam
  • Ask them to check their ‘approved app relationships’ that they’ve given account access to. This is usually personality quiz or ‘What Hero Are You’ type apps. If something is suspect, revoke the apps access.

Here’s what I usually send, via DM:

I think your account has been compromised - just sent me 'quiz' spam. Check your Sent DM, change PW, & review Settings/Connections

Non DM ‘Mention’ spam
If you notice a tweet or RT (ReTweet) that has your twitter name mentioned, but a spammy shortened link in the body (not one you’d used) run, do not walk to your DM panel.

Your tweet was harvested and hijacked by spammers. The content was altered to include the spam shortlink, making it look like you sent the original tweet.

Send a DM to @spam with the account name. Twitter folk will deal with the account. And let your followers know that a previous tweet was hijacked. You will, of course, need to follow @spam (which is kinda weird) but it works 🙂

So, as far as Twitter spam goes, that’s how I roll. How ’bout you? Do you have any cool or crafty techniques you use to deal with spam?

There’re two parts to this subject, which logically means that I’ll deal with it in two posts:

How to avoid becoming a Twitter spammer, the easy way

Over the last few weeks I’ve been receiving spam on Twitter from trusted people I follow.

It’s not that they’ve all been overcome by the need to monetize their Twitter accounts (there, I said monetize in a blog post, I’m doomed), rather, they’ve fallen victim to diabolically-crafted account phishing schemes and their Twitter accounts are now compromised.

There’re two parts to this subject, which logically means that I’ll deal with it in two posts:

Part One – How to avoid becoming a Twitter spammer
To keep from becoming an unwitting victim of Twitter scammers hijacking your Twitter account for their own nefarious purposes, there’s really only a few simple things to remember:

Only give your Twitter password and account name to people or services you trust — treat it like your email or bank account.

And Verify
Verify that the Twitter login page is actually associated with the Twitter domain, and not a numbered IP address or some other domain name. It should always be or As long as the domain name is OK, you should be fine.

A high-tech solution
Don’t use your Twitter name or Password to sign up for ‘free offers’ or personality tests. Instead, open a new tab on your browser, log in to Twitter the normal way — this sets up a secure session. Now that you’ve established a session with Twitter, go back to the previous tab with the twitter service showing you the password requester. Refresh that page, and you will likely see a OAuth login, like this one.

OAuth is a more secure way to give a third-party access to your Twitter account, without revealing your password.

But don’t rely on technology alone, no process if fool proof — even OAuth.

Consider the first two points and always weigh the risk. Ask yourself the question, “is it really important for me to give them my Twitter login, take that personality test, and potentially spam my friends and followers — putting my reputation at risk?”

The reasons why people follow me on Twitter

In the previous post, I started to answer the question “Why people follow me on Twitter.” I went through some background, reviewed my tweet history, and wrote a bit about my experience using Twitter’s Direct Message (DM) to ask the question.

This follow-on post gets into the actual reasons and numbers.

Over the three months I conducted my highly informal research,  I’d asked new followers the following question:

Hi (follower name here), thanks for following me. This is NOT an auto-DM, I’m live :)and tracking ‘reach’ and was wondering how you ‘found’ me in Twitter?

Over that time, I’d gained about 300 followers, many of them ‘business‘ accounts with ‘great money making opportunities‘ or people looking for ‘others who are motivated to be successful‘.

Other were the gems I was hoping for. These new followers add value daily, offering new and insightful opinions. They’re the reason I check ever new follower, reading their profile and reviewing their tweets. I want to be exposed to this new perspective or new information, who wouldn’t?

But enough background and preamble, on to the data 🙂

Continue reading “The reasons why people follow me on Twitter”

Wondering why people follow me on Twitter?

About 6 months ago I got curious as to why people were following me on Twitter. Basically I asked them… and then found out some rather interesting things, both about why they were following me and also about the evolving etiquette around Twitter interactions.

This has turned into a two-part post. Initially I was going to address both the process I used, and the results, but once I writing about the process, I realized the post was  too long to digest at once. So, I’ll get to the numbers in the next post.

On to the process.

How do I know when someone’s following me?
If you look under the Notices tab on your Twitter Settings page you’ll see the checkbox beside ‘New Follower Emails:’. Check it and you’ll be automagically emailed every time someone starts following. Simple ‘eh? Without this feature, knowing when someone started following me would have been much more difficult.

Asking the question…it’s all in the question.

Initially, I thought a simple DM (Twitter Direct Message) along the lines of ‘hey, thanks for following me, how’d you find me?‘ would suffice. But no, it’s too simple, and didn’t really get much of a response. I think it tended to put people off by it’s brevity, and it was generic; it looked like the DM could have been generated by an Auto-DM script.

Auto-DM is currently considered bad form as many people interpret the Twitter to be at its best with live interaction, and the DM channel to be reserved for interaction that may not be of interest to all of  your followers.

So, I settled on this process to review candidates to survey:

  • Click on the link to the new follower’s profile in the New Follower Email.
  • Check out the followers details: location (if any), interests, web page, tweeting history and content to see if they’re interesting to me.
  • Look for a ‘message follower‘ link under the Actions section of their profile. If it’s not there,  they don’t want to be sociable, so I won’t bother them by following them back. In my case, when I follow you, it’ll say ‘message bgrier’ as indicated in the image to the right.
  • If the profile or a quick review of recent tweets reveals that all this follower is writing about is a ‘new moneymaking system’ or ‘SEO secrets’, then I’ll use the link on the line below it and block them from receiving my updates. I effectively vanish from their ‘following’ list. I have no time for these type of spam accounts.

Over the period of my informal survey, both my ‘tweet’ frequency and my follower counts have increased. I don’t think one is a significant result of the other, as during this period, Twitter has gained a lot more publicity, and spam-follower activity has increased. The tweet frequency may have had a small impact.

Regardless, it’s interesting data and is displayed in cool charts 🙂 As you can see in the TweetStats chart below, I have been increasing my online activity.

And my follower count has also grown, as indicated in this TwitterCounter chart.

All right. I’ve seen significant growth of followers over the last few months, and of those, a pretty good segment of people have taken a moment or two to explain why they followed me. Digging into those details will be the subject of my next post, but in the meantime, let me ask you a question.

Why do you think people are following YOU on Twitter? Post your answeres in the comments below.