Twitter users should not join that AWESOME site that gets you TONS of followers

Readers of this blog have excellent judgment on many things, but I’ve been surprised that a few of my followers on twitter are signing up for follow-swapping sites. I had a pretty strong reaction against seeing their adverts in my tweet feed, and made an experiment to test my hypothesis that it’s a bad idea. So, I want to share with you my experience with these sites, and a discussion I had recently about them.

I joined up, really just to test them, here:

The result was
– I got 26 followers, most of which are spam accounts sending adverts. None have any interest in what I’m saying.
– The system sent my followers an average of two spam messages a day. If I had used a real account, it would have cost me followers
– I had to follow twice as many people as I had followers.

Last week I coorganised a big meeting for social media folk where this general type of system was discussed. The professional guidance is that it’s very bad, since it reduced both the relevance of your tweets and the relevance of your followers and the folk you follow. It’s a burden on your followers (and friends if you copy your tweets into facebook) and adds no value to you at all.

So, I urge you to keep an eye on what the concrete results are for you with this system (perhaps your experience is be different) and consider disconnecting from that system if it doesn’t work for you.

Of course, all of this shows why current RoI metrics for social media are exceedingly problematic. The idea that you can value someone’s feed by the number of followers, followed and updates is contradicted by these tweet-spam exchange schemes. They appear to improve those three metrics about your fee, but actually reduce your relevance and lose you followers.

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