Journalist Simon Sharwood aimed this advice at public relations people, but the same basic principles apply to anyone new to Twitter. Basic rules are don’t be selfish, don’t be evil.
It was time to act when an email appeared titled “making money w/mlm is now following you on Twitter!”
That’s one follower I certainly won’t follow back. This spammer did little to hide his or her intent, other Twitter spam merchants are more stealthy.
I weed them out this way:
How to spot a dodgy Twitter account
- Giveaway names
‘Making money w/mlm’ is a dead giveaway. Names are slightly more obtuse or lyrical and yes, spammers hide behind real-sounding names
- Glamorous photographs
Let’s face it, attractive young blond women who look vaguely like supermodels or Playboy pin-ups are unlikely followers. Of course there are good-looking people among my genuine followers, but spammers use over-glamorous photographs as a lure.
- Number following
Nobody, but nobody, has 3000 friends. So people who are following large numbers of Twitter accounts are automatically suspect. The exception to this rule are people in roles such as tech support.
- Following follower ratio
Someone who follows many people but only has a few followers in return is automatically suspect. You can find tools to help automate the process of purging these from your follower list.
I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but I don’t know anyone in India or the Philippines. Of course that doesn’t make everyone from those places a spammer.
If the bio includes a phrase like “Entrepreneurial marketing leader – passionate about brands marketing technology” the person behind it is almost certainly a spammer. Incidentally this bio is a real one from someone who followed me yesterday.
Web links with terms like erasedebt.com richness.com and so on are dead giveaways.
If a new follower arrives and I can tick the boxes on more than two of these bullet points, I’m going to block them.
Can you think of any warning signs I may have missed?
Update: if you haven’t seen Twitter spam, this explains it: Something’s Going Down @Twitter
You can Twitter all you like. Poke half the world on Facebook. And polish your Linkedin profile until all those buttons shine. But according to Jason Falls, social media activity on its own isn’t going to find you a new job.
He says if you’re seriously looking for employment, you need to get out and meet people or, at least, get on the phone.
Of course Falls is right. We all know that. But two things make his point of view particularly valuable. First, he offers his own personal story as evidence. Second, Falls is a director of social media and his view was published on his Social Media Explorer web site.
Many knowledge workers like Twitter. I’m not a fan. We’ll leave criticisms for another day. For now let’s just say I don’t find it as useful as other applications in the social networking toolbox. Twitter is probably at the peak of inflated expectations on the Gartner Hype Cycle at this moment. And the potential for spam-style abuse is huge.
However, many of my friends and colleagues swear by Twitter so it can’t be all bad.
While getting started guides to twitter guide are a dime a dozen, this tutorial from CIO magazine is one of the best. It doesn’t gush, talks about why you might bother and what you can expect to find.
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- Twitter Has a Problem Going Mainstream (kylelacy.com)
This might sound like just the ticket for someone who likes to spend their entire working day logged onto Facebook, twittering on Twitter or being everyone’s friend on MySpace. In fact, smart companies are waking up to social networking so it’s a serious job and, to do it well, requires some expertise in communications, marketing, public relations and knowledge management. Business social networking managers (how long before we start talking about BSNMs?) also need good people skills. Interestingly, technology isn’t a major requirement, which indicates social networking is now an accepted part of mainstream life.
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According to the Economist newspaper, business-oriented social networking websites like Linkedin and Xing are doing a roaring trade despite, or more accurately because of the world’s financial troubles. Apparently the professionals who use these sites have been busily updating their online profiles in recent week just in case they lose their jobs.
So it looks like some people are heeding the advice handed out by management guru Tom Peters.