Rarely is it bragged that you have Twitter followers with handles such as TiwuobuD, shamiurrahman1, des813w, or holly11schanama. Instead, someone with followers such as these would rather point to their overall number of 50,000+ followers and not to the “individuals” that make it up. Of course, what does that mean? As shown with the twitter account for which I’m citing these facts, it means very little.
For a recent post about garage wineries in a village in the Priorat, we had three times the clickthrus from Twitter than this user had for an article on their blog with a much larger interest. It’s but one example (there are many others I’ve noticed over time) and it shows that despite our Twitter only having about 1,500 followers, they are of a much higher quality. That’s good news considering the amount of time it takes to amass that many, legitimately.
There is of course the “fakin’ it” issue when it comes to social media. For some time, Facebook has allowed you to buy all the Likes you wish for a page. This is harder on Twitter as they don’t allow this to anyone but those who wish to pay big bucks to be “promoted”. But, if numbers are all you care about, then you can find 3rd party providers to get them for you as shown by Newt Gingrich’s fraudulent following.
Am I implying that this Twitter handle with 50,000+ followers picked them up through ill-gotten means? Not completely, but it’s impossible to really know as their response rate to tweets is abysmal for someone with such a theoretically large net. More than likely they picked them up by attending conferences and having been active on Twitter for years now. Over time, many of their followers became inactive while their numbers kept growing due to some momentum and spambots started following them because of this. But, like I said, you never know and it would be very easy for anyone who wanted to grow a brand to pay a bit to boost their numbers. Thus the ills of social media and why anyone who tries to use it for promotion needs to monitor the metrics extremely closely and call out all potential bullshit because it most likely is just that.