How many of your Twitter followers are fake?
MANILA, Philippines - In today’s social media world, the number of people who follow you on Twitter is valuable currency. It’s almost as if it were a popularity contest where the user with the most number of Twitter followers wins.
In the entertainment industry this currency is convertible to cash. Some local celebrities, I’ve heard, charge companies as much as a peso per follower to endorse products on Twitter. Politicians also try to rake up as many followers as possible in an attempt to translate their numbers into votes.
Media organizations, on the other hand, grow their online communities for the purpose of news-gathering and crowd-sourcing initiatives and as a means of promoting their content. The more followers, the larger the news-gathering army, and the more people you can get to watch your shows or visit your website.
But having a lot of followers doesn’t always guarantee an engaged audience. In fact, your popularity on Twitter may not be all that. A new tool called “Fake Follower Check” actually allows you to dig into your list of Twitter followers and identify how many of them are fake, how many are idle, and how many are good.
- Fake accounts are usually spammer accounts. They follow you in hopes that you follow them back. They’ll never read or share your tweets and won’t interact with you either.
- Idle accounts are accounts which haven’t been updated in a while. Users who signed up a while back but have since abandoned their accounts or haven’t tweeted recently.
- Good refers to active users -- those who are online regularly and who are most likely to interact with you and share your content.
Curious to see what the results would be like, we ran the tool on the Twitter accounts of several Philippine news organizations.
The tool reports that while @gmanews has almost a million followers on Twitter -- the most by any Philippine news organization -- 43% of its followers are fake and only 21% good.
Sister accounts @ancalerts and @abscbnnews, which have slightly over 500k followers each, scored better with roughly the same scores between the two of them -- 18% and 19% fake, and 40% and 33% good respectively. Newcomer @interaksyon scored slightly better with only 14% fake and 44% good.
Our Twitter account @rapplerdotcom was the only account to score in single digits for fake followers and over 50% when it comes to good followers scoring 9% fake and 61% good. It is worth noting that @interaksyon and @rapplerdotcom both have less than 100k followers, @interaksyon has over 10k, while @rapplerdotcom has 41k.
Does this mean the larger you get, the larger your chances of getting fake followers? We took a look at other foreign news organizations and the results were mixed.
CNN's main account, @cnn, which was the second Twitter account in history to cross the one-million follower mark, and which now has 5.6-M followers, scored poorly with 34% fake and only 19% good.
The @guardian a UK-based, and social media savvy news organization with 500k followers, scored pretty well with 18% fake and 50% good.
The @huffingtonpost which has 2-M followers also scored well with 17% fake and 44% good.
How accurate is it?
According to social media managament company Status People, the company behind Fake Follower Check, the tool is very accurate for people with 10,000 followers or less. But for more popular accounts, while the tool will still provide good insight into your follower base, “it may better reflect current follower activity rather than your whole follower base.”
Aside from the score, the tool doesn’t really let you dig into the results. For one, it doesn’t let you know who your fake followers are.
We ran the test however on the accounts of several Rappler staff and as it turns out, one of our graphics artists Jessica Lazaro had an impressive score 0% fake followers, 92% good. This is highly likely to be true, given that she knows almost everyone who follows her and that she had kept her account locked till very recently.
I ran the test on my account, @michaeljosh and thankfully my results came out pretty good (although not as good as Jessica's) 8% fake and 50% good. I joined Twitter way back in 2007, and the results show that a lot of the followers I had picked up back then aren’t as active on the social network today.
Does it matter?
Definitely. As much as follower count is important, it is probably even more important to keep track of this metric.
Social networking after all, is about relationships, not just about you pushing out your message to a larger audience but also having people weigh in with their own comments -- which, at the end of the day, is what makes the experience richer.
Social networking is also about sharing, and the potential for content created by an average joe like me to be passed from one network to the next is part of what makes it great. The more fake followers you have, the less likely this will happen.
How do you feel about the Fake Follower Check tool? Do you think its accurate? Give it a try yourself and let us know in the comments how you scored and if you think it matters. - Rappler.com
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