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Are Your Twitter Followers Actually Robots? - Recognize Twitter Bots

When it comes to Twitter, popularity counts. The more followers a user has, the merrier, right? Wrong. A study of major corporation's Twitter
accounts has shown that nearly half of their followers could be generated by robots, or bots. So, the next time you think you're having a Twitter exchange with a human, think again.


First things first, what is a Twitter bot? A botis an account that follows you, trying to get you to click on affiliate links, or simply just trying to get you to follow them for fun. Fake accounts on Twitter are a bustling business, so when you spot one, flag them and report them as spam.

The study, conducted by Marco Camisani Calzolari, a communications professor in Milan, revealed that up to 46% of Twitter followers of companies were actually either generated by bots or were bots themselves. "The number of followers is no longer a valid indicator of the popularity of a Twitter user, and can no longer be analyzed separately from qualitative information," Calzolari said.

Despite the prevalence of Twitter bots, many marketers still use the follower number as a measure of how successful their Twitter activity is. Sadly, these days, it does little to prove real value.


How to Recognize Twitter Bots ?


It's clear that bots are pesky, skew the relevance of your Twitter account, and are hard to spot. So, how can you recognize the bots? Here are a few things to watch out for:

1. Getting Lightning Fast Responses to a Tweet

When you tweet about a specific topic, about car insurance for example, and are immediately followed by and replied to within mili-seconds – it's most likely a bot. Bots are automated to respond to a specific keyword or key phrases.

2. Tweeting the Same Message to Everyone

Sure, some humans are pretty unoriginal on Twitter. However, if an @ response on Twitter seems fishy, check out the entire profile. If the account is sending the exact same Tweet to everybody, you've got yourself a bot.

3. Does it Tell You it is a Bot?

Seriously, some Twitter bots actually straight up admit to being a bot. Perform background checks on your iffy followers and the results might surprise you. Many a Twitter bot's bio begins with the phrase, "Hi, I'm a bot…"

4. Lots of Following, Very Few Followers

This is one of the most telling signs that you aren't dealing with real account. If the account is following 974, but only has 10 followers – it's a bot.

Now that you know how to spot a bot, it is time to put your sleuthing power in to action. Don't just automatically follow back anyone who chooses to follow you. Look at each new follower and see if you actually like what they have to say. Unfollowing all of the bots on your account with reflect your Twitter influence better and reduce the likelihood of you getting pointless @ replies from bots that just clog up your message stream.

Guest Article by Amanda Click

A College of Charleston graduate, Amanda Click has been writing professionally since 2009. She covers a variety of topics including travel and home improvement. This article is about how to recognize Twitter bots and how to deal with them. To write guest posts for us, please click on the link below.

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