Ace up the sleeveHey there – if you came to this article looking for information on how to recognise whether or not someone is being unfaithful on social media, then you have come to the wrong place I’m afraid. This article was quite a minefield to research as a large percentage of the information out there is on precisely that, so I thought that I’d throw that quick disclaimer in there.

Now that’s out of the way, we can continue.

Many newcomers to Twitter will believe that the more followers they have the better their account will be. Whilst you do want to be shooting for as many followers as possible there is a right way and wrong way to go about things.

Profiles with high follower numbers may lead you assume to think that they must be engaging users who post interesting content on a regular basis. I mean, if they have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, then it must be for a pretty good reason right?

The answer, I’m afraid to say is: not necessarily.

The battle hardened veterans of Twitter amongst you will know that it is not a difficult task to artificially inflate your followers. This can make your profile look like a must-follow rather than the waste of time that it really is. People buy followers or participate in reciprocal following services that add indiscriminate accounts to your followed list on the understanding that you will follow them back.

But That’s Good, Right? The More Followers The Better?

In a word – no.

In more words – no, no, no, no, no, no.

In more helpful words – More Twitter followers will not increase the impact of your account by mere effect of their presence. The key to social media success is engagement, and these sorts of tactics will not result in more of it. Followers acquired through less than honest means tend to be fake profiles, who don’t engage with anything – they just sit there doing nothing.

Alternatively, indiscriminate reciprocal following usually means that your audience is unfocused. This is to say that your audience is not made up of the people most likely to be interested in whatever it is that you are peddling. You are much better off with a smaller audience that is interested in the same sorts of things as yourself. You will see more engagement, more favourites and more retweets as a result. In other words – more engagement.

OK, So How Do I Spot If Someone Is Cheating At The Game?

What normally happens with these things is that somewhere out there in the world there are people who create free email accounts and then create an associated Twitter profile. They’ll get a picture off Google images, often an attractive woman, and start Tweeting spam and other rubbish. They will then repeat the process with multiple accounts, making sure that they follow each other.

This creates the illusion that they are real and popular accounts and can then be used to follow other users in exchange for a financial investment. There are also bots out there that automate this process, but the end result is the same.

Twitter Counter and Status People (Faker Scores) are great tools for trying to deduce whether or not someone is scamming Twitter followers.

When checked with Twitter Counter, a genuine Twitter account should show steady growth in the number of followers, but the growth should also be irregular and organic.

Inversely, a fake account will show things like a linear decline that suddenly starts growing in a linear fashion. These sorts of patterns set off alarm bells because the decline and growth are the same every day. If a profile is gaining exactly ten followers every day then this is strong evidence of bots at work.

You can then head over to Status People to confirm your findings. Faker Scores offers a rough metric to determine the percentages of followers that are fake, inactive or legitimate, but it is considered to have a high degree of reliability and validity.

Again, you would expect a genuine account to have a high percentage of legitimate followers. You will still get a small percentage of fake followers, even on genuine accounts, as you cannot control who follows you, but this should be around the 5% mark (or lower). It is important to be aware of this, so that you don’t draw the wrong conclusions.

The number of inactive users should be fairly consistent on both legitimate and fake accounts (around 10-15%), but the proportion of fake to legitimate followers will be massively skewed in favour of the fake on a disingenuous account.

As with any kind of data analysis, it is best not to only rely on one source of information. By using Twitter Counter to identify suspicious patters of following behaviour and then double-checking with Status People, you can get a pretty good idea of how genuine a user’s followers are.

Have you ever paid for Twitter followers? If so, how do you feel about the practice? Also, have you ever busted another Twitterer for inflating their follow list? Please let us know in the comments.

Have fun.