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The further commoditization of Twitter followers

A few months ago, I wrote about the commoditization of Twitter followers, after discovering a number of automated, semi-automated and manual strategies that people - and non-human systems - were employing to artificially boost their Twitter follower counts. My earlier discovery was sparked by noticing some unusual numbers in the profiles of some recent followers of my Twitter stream. My latest discovery of yet another Twitter commoditization tool was similarly sparked by the profile of a new follower - who has since unfollowed me - that listed 1,983 followees, 787 followers and only 6 tweets. Clicking through to the Twitter homepage of this new follower revealed that 3 of these 6 tweets referenced TweetAdder, a tool that promises to "get more followers, instantly".

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TweetAdder appears to be slightly less cynical than, the fully automatic reciprocal following system I referenced in my earlier post, wherein new users who signup are automatically followed by all existing users, and automatically reciprocally follow all existing users. However, it does include the phrase "twitter follower bot" in the title field of the image used to promote the product.

[Update, 05-Apr-2012: Twitter has filed a lawsuit against TweetAdder and four other entities I would categorize as providing "spamware as a service".]

TweetAdder, the self-proclaimed "Ferrari of Twitter Friend Adder and Promotion Software", is a semi-automatic follower acquisition tool, relying on the reflexive reciprocal "follow back" response exhibited by a signifcant proportion of Twitter users (TweetAdder claims that this represents 30%-50% of Twitter users). After purchasing the software, users need to spend some time with targeting Twitter users that they want to lure into reciprocally following them, e.g., by specifying keywords, locations and/or other Twitter users whose followers they want to reach. The software purportedly provides for automating tweets and direct messages ... I wonder if future versions will provide for automatic retweets of targeted prospective followers, as I imagine that would be an even more effective lure.


At first, I thought "well, at least this is not yet another Ponzi scheme", but then I found that TweetAdder offers an "affiliates program" in which users are purportedly paid $10 to sign up, 50% commission on direct sales referrals and 10% on affiliates' sales referrals. The TweetAdder purchase page includes an icon for the SC Magazine Awards 2009, "organized to honor the professionals, companies and products that help fend off the myriad security threats confronted in today's corporate world". However, searching for "tweetadder" and "tweet adder" on the SC Magazine site returned 0 results. If SC Magazine does write an article about TweetAdder, I wonder how they would portray the product.

As in my earlier post, I want to explicitly state that this post is intended as a critique, not an endorsement, of such automated Twitter follower acquisition schemes. I was surprised to discover that TweetAdder was endorsed in an NBC News piece by Mike Wendland on Handy apps to help manage your Twitter account. Immediately following a reference to "lots of tips and tricks and scams out there", Wendland says "The best tool I've found is a program called TweetAdder." The end of the piece includes a link to his web site and his Twitter handle (@pcmike). I wonder if @pcmike, who has approximately 6000 followees and 8000 followers, is a member of the TweetAdder affiliates program.

The mainstream media has given considerable attention to a recent Pew Center for People and the Press survey that revealed that Americans have an increasingly negative view of government (25% positive, 65% negative). I think it's important to note, in this context, that the same survey revealed that Americans have an increasingly negative view of the national news media (31% positive, 57% negative) ... and, somewhat ironically, a rather positive view of small businesses (71% positive, 19% negative) and technology companies (68% positive, 18% negative). Perhaps future surveys might break out a new category of "Twitter-based companies" or "social media companies".

Public Negative Views of Institutions, Pew Research, April 2010

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