How I'm cheating on Twitter

CrapwareI hate crapware. I’ve written and spoken about how much I hate it. It’s the reason why Twitter numbers mean nothing, it’s why you can’t just look at someone’s account and say “wow, they’re doing great!”, and it’s why you should be suspicious if an agency or consultant you’ve hired shows explosive growth for no real reason.

Another reason I detest crapware so much is that one of the corner stones of the social media evolution is transparency; using this stuff is anything but transparent. It’s a way of being lazy, of gaming the system, and turning social media into nothing more than a meaningless numbers game; reducing it from communications and relationships to a high school popularity contest.

However, I’m not an unreasonable man. Maybe, just maybe I’m not giving this stuff a fair shake. Maybe I’m not really doing it justice and I’m jumping to conclusions. Maybe there really is some hidden value behind these systems.

The Crapware Experiment

A while ago I created the Twitter account SMFeeds to constantly feed me, and anyone else who cared, posts from what I consider to be the best social media blogs on the web. Using this account I amassed a staggering 84 followers without doing anything more than just existing and retweeting posts from it.

The account has no business or popularity objective,  it has no real reason for existing other than that I want it to. That is why it’s absolutely perfect for this experiment.

10 days ago I signed up for a newcomer in the automated follower arena followATHON. This is a free service that supposedly helps you “Get tons of followers for free!” and “with followers who actually want to follow you”. It’s free because it places an ad for itself in your Twitter stream 3x a day.

Sounding too good to be true, I signed up SMFeeds for it and in the last 10 days it’s gained 10 whole followers, but is now following over 300. As of right now It’s not exactly a run away success.

The Metrics

Every Monday I’m checking the account and taking stock of what progress has occurred in the last week.

  1. Following
  2. Followers
  3. RTs
  4. Positive @s
  5. Negative @s (people upset at the account using followATHON)
  6. Average link clicks
  7. Total link clicks

I took stock of each stat the week before to establish a base, and I’ll be running it for 3 months. Each month I’ll give an update on the progress with the stats. At the end of 3 months I’ll switch to another crapware and let it run for 3 months. My current plan is to just keep doing it, until I run out of crapware to test.

How you can help

In the comments below list some of the crapware you come across so I can test them here. Depending on how many programs I get, I might adjust the scope and duration of the testing. Right now I’m planning on using followATHON, Tweet Adder, Twitter Adder, Twillow, and then some kind of simple auto-follow service before returning to normal.

I realize it would be better to test each one head to head, and I have plans for that kind of test down the road, but first I want to see how they all stack up using the same account and how they build on the “success” of each other.

Thanks for reading,
Josh “Shua” Peters

image by rzrxtion

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  • http://twitter.com/cuteculturechic Nicole Bullock

    Ugh..these crapware programs drive me nuts! This weekend, I was talking to a friend who has been on Twitter for over a year, but has only been tweeting a few times a month since November. She used a service (I think it was Tweet Adder) and now has about 3000 followers. I asked her about how many people she actually knew and interacted with…she said about 50. She said she doesn’t like Twitter because she never talks to the people she cares about. Then she asked me about my numbers (that DON’T matter) and I could honestly tell her I had interacted well over a 1000 of my followers. Once you develop relationships, you must cultivate them. If your Twitter account is full of spammy junk accounts, it defeats the glory of the Twitterverse.

    • http://www.shuaism.com Josh Peters

      That is a perfectly illustrated example, thank you for sharing it!

  • http://twitter.com/cranberryfries DebbieCranberryfries

    Found your article from Nicole. I love the experiment idea. I follow a friend who does a mommy review of products and got signed up on their twitter list similar to this. We’re all on the list and we follow each other (by one click of a button) and others do the same. Luckily I added them all to the same list because I’d say eaisly 98% of those on the list were specifically there for retweets of giveaways (that I dont care about) or posts of their own blog, not interacting or out looking to network or make new friends. I quickly got off the list and unfollowed all of it. I’m like Nicole. If I dont interact or care about the tweets then why do I want to sponge my numbers.

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