Ever wonder who all these random eggs are on Twitter, or why you have so many followers that never tweet? We explore the world of Twitter spam-bots…
Recently, a report published in Brand Republic indicated that high levels of brands are talking to Twitter robots, not customers as they previously thought.
In fact, of Dell’s 1.5 million followers on Twitter, 46% were identified as Twitter-bots, illustrating the magnitude of this problem. Multiple studies have shown that the true value of social media for brands lies within their engaged online communities and not simply the number of Twitter followers or Facebook “likes” they have. Thus, it is important to keep an eye on your online communities to ensure that you are getting the most out of your social media endeavours, regardless of your brand’s status or size.
It is not always easy to spot a bot on Twitter – sometimes a bit of detective work is necessary…
We’ve compiled a five step strategy for spotting Twitter-bots and protecting your brand profile from future spamming.
1. View Profile – Usually the profile is a dead giveaway for spotting Twitter-bots. Many of these sneaky spammers maintain the anonymous egg photo or use very low resolution profile images with distant, unclear or hidden faces. Twitter-bot profiles will usually leave the bio section empty, or use it to display incongruous content or link to a spam website. In addition, their usernames tend to be an unimaginative combination of name followed by a number(s).
2. Consider Content – If you have your suspicions but still can’t decide whether one of your followers is a bot or simply a passive Twitter user, consider the nature of the content posted on that profile. If most/every tweet links to a spam website, the tweets appear to be working at an angle so that the stream looks like a commercial break on TV and/or the tweets are often random inspirational quotes, then you may well have a Twitter-bot on your hands.
3. Check Interaction – If someone has thousands of followers but is recognised on less than one hundred lists, they may be a robot. You may also observe that, despite tweeting regularly and frequently – they are not actually conversing with any of their followers and none of their tweets are directed at anyone in particular. Little/no on-page interactions are characteristic Twitter-bot behaviour. If you aren’t sure, do a search for the username and see what shows up in the feed. Twitter robots rarely – if ever – appear in any @mentions or RTs.
4. Other Clues - Auto-following and/or sending auto direct messages to thank you for following is another telling tip.
5. Protect Yourself – If you find a Twitter bot spamming your account, the first thing you can do is block that user so that its tweets no longer appear in your feed. You can also report the account as spam to Twitter who will investigate further and delete the page where necessary. Croud recommends using Tweepi to protect your account from robots. Tweepi allows you to flush out unwanted followers, clear your account of inactive users, reciprocate follow and force unwanted followers to un-follow you. We think this is a great way to monitor your Twitter account, keeping it as spam-free as possible.
If you are new to Twitter, you may have read the above with increasing concern, perhaps thinking ‘I haven’t uploaded a profile picture yet or filled in my bio, will people think I’m a bot?’ If that’s the case, the sooner you get your picture uploaded, fill out your bio and get tweeting with your friends and favourite brands, the less likely you are to be mistaken for a bot.
No bot-spotting strategy is 100% foolproof. If you find any robot-behaviour we haven’t mentioned in this post, do let us know. These bots are constantly evolving after all and we’d all like to stay ahead of their game.