You’ve started a Twitter account, and you are using it with some success to promote your small business. Have you noticed that some of your followers seem, well, questionable?
At Visual People, we get a lot of great followers who are interested in our business and what we tweet. But we also get several who are spammers. We take care to weed these folks out by blocking them and reporting them to Twitter as spammers on a weekly or every-other-week basis. We probably haven’t gotten them all, but we try.
To block a follower, you can view the list of all your followers. On the right side of each one, there are three icons. Click and hold on the gear icon – the one that is furthest to the right – to bring up a menu that includes the “block” option. You will have to confirm that you really want to block that account. Alternatively, you can visit the Twitter page of that person, check to see if they seem suspicious, and if so, click the link to block from the right column, listed under “Actions.”
How can you identify a scammer? The scantily-clad women are one easy sign, but other signs include topics and phrasing. “High paying work from home jobs” and “Discover the secrets to whiter teeth” (or anything else) followed by a link are usually not legitimate. You can click through to the follower’s Twitter page, and if they do nothing but promote the same link with no re-tweets, no conversation or no real information then they aren’t there to connect. Another good way to screen is to see the account’s followers to those following. If they have few followers but are following a couple hundred or thousand, they are probably not tweeting anything of value.
Spammers do this because there are a fair number of Twitter users who automatically follow back. If you do this you would be exposed to their spam – at least until you get smart and block them.
Why does this matter? After all, if you don’t follow back, they’re not harming anyone, are they? And having more followers looks good on your Twitter profile.
Well, think about this this way. Twitter allows you to check the followers of any user. How often do you look at other Twitter accounts and check their followers? When a local business comes online or if someone you might know is now Tweeting, one way to find out is by checking new followers of others.
Now, what do you think if a business you’re checking out has a significant number of spammy looking followers? It can’t help but be noticed. It has the ability to impact your business’s reputation, even though you don’t pick your followers. The subtle message is that your tweets may not be valuable enough to attract higher quality followers.
The other issue is that people who are thinking of following you may choose not to because of the weakness of your “network.” Even though it looks like you have a couple hundred followers, if two-thirds would never read your tweets or send out re-tweets, your communication is reaching a much smaller group.
So, who follows you and what kind of blocking policy you have does impact your reputation for some Twitter users. Part of your Twitter routine should be to go through every week or so and weed out the spammers.