I just came back from a social gaming conference in San Francisco, and while you’d think the best lessons were related to social monetization, user feedback and cute furry virtual goods, the biggest lesson was that San Franciscans use Twitter… a lot. I got added by hordes of people, day after day, and only knew who half of them were. In honor of this, I thought I’d write this little list of 5 reasons why random people follow you on Twitter.
1) They Are Promoters Who Don’t Realize To Follow Isn’t the Same As To Be Followed
One of the key reasons that people follow you is because they are promoting their own business or account. Also, if their account has a photo of a scantily-clad woman, they are, in 99 cases out of 100, a porn site. There are however a few woman who actually use naked photos of themselves, but I doubt that their tweets are going to be very enlightening.
The best way to tell if someone is just adding you to promote themselves is their follower to following ratio. If they are following 10,000 people and 10 people are following them, you can safely assume this is a person who adds every person under the sun, or worse, is a Twittobot. Ignore them at all costs.
I also worry about the promoters who don’t actually understand how Twitter works, and assume that when they follow someone that the person is following them. I find it humorous to think of this promoter sending out thousands of tweets a month when in actuality there isn’t a single person in the entire world that can physically see them at all.
2) They Think You’re Someone Else
Seeing that Twitter is nothing like Facebook and you can name yourself whatever you like, I’m pretty sure that a lot of random adds are accidents. I got added by someone a few months ago who was asking me how my move to San Francisco had went. I replied that I had no idea what they were talking about, and they responded with “haha”. So I’m assuming either they are crazy, or embarassed. Either way, this was a random add and I’m not sure what to do with this follower. I could block them, but if they’re crazy they’ll find me. Anybody have any ideas?
3) They Saw You Post One Funny Tweet or Blog Post
This one is pretty much on the list because I do it to other people. They may have seen one funny blog post, and thought it was pretty funny. Heck, this post will probably generate a few new followers. The problem is that these people will inevitably stop following you within a few weeks, because you’re not funny. Well I’m not. I’m mad, and I post about Twitter followers, and some people find it humorous and can’t see the seething rage that boils under the comedic surface of my words.
Seriously though, this is how Twitter is probably best used. Most people just sign up, and quit. Those that don’t quit, eventually say “Hey, I like hearing people’s thoughts, I’m going to add all kinds of interesting people and bands and philosophers that I know.” Their Twitter then gets too crowded and they quit. The best users, pick and prune the people they follow, and regularly use Twitter as a source of fruitful information and inspiration. Or something like that.
4) Their Twitter Has Been Hacked And They Are Now Controlled By A Twittobot
Unless my friend one day decided that they would stop Tweeting about the weather, add 10,000 new friends and constantly Tweet “viagra a.t strEeT Prices”, I’d say his Twitter account was phished, his password stolen and his account hacked. There’s no doubt that Twitter is becoming a great way to spread commercial messages (ask ad.ly), and where there is promotion there is spam. Hackers are breaking into Twitter daily and using other people’s accounts for all kinds of dirty deeds, so next time you get followed, think twice.
5) The Person Is Just A Nice, Curious Resident Of The Web Who Wants Someone To Chat With
Ahh, the absolutely unfathomable dream of the web. The idea that strangers would get in touch to discuss philosophy and their way of life is something that early web pioneers espoused as its inevitable goal, but little did they realize to what extent perverts, scammers and spammers would rule the roost. In any open society in today’s web, the chances of you finding a genuine relationship through a random connection is virtually zero due to the millions of scammers about. This is like something I once heard about spam:
Spam will never stop. For every 25,000,000 spam messages sent across the web, if only one person clicks the link, it’s still ultimately profitable for the spammers, because it costs so little to send spam. -Some Guy
For this reason, I doubt that any random Twitter follower you ever get will be of use for any type of personal, commercial or spiritual growth. Thoughts, webizens?