Twitter Suggests Followers are Shy Rather Than Fake
The authenticity of ones Twitter followers has been in sharp focus in recent weeks. Mitt Romney unwittingly sparked the intrigue after research suggested his recent growth in followers was caused by an upsurge in fake followers. This followed research suggesting that half of the followers of many major companies were not of a human nature.
Things came to a head with an app by Status People that offered to reveal just how many fake vs real followers people had.
So does it matter? Well if you're a Twitter user then obviously you want as many real and engaged followers as possible, whilst from Twitter's perspective they want real people to encourage advertisers to spend with them.
So news from Status People that, for instance, 71% of Lady Gaga's 29 million followers are fake, or 70% of Obama's should be taken seriously.
Twitter has however come out on the defensive against the allegations that a large chunk of its 'users' are either far from active or far from human.
For instance they themselves do not judge active users by whether they tweet, with around 50% of all accounts judged as inactive if regular twitterings is used as a gauge. In other words, Twitter suggest that many users consume rather than contribute content.
Instead Twitter regard activity based upon the frequency of logins rather than the frequency of postings, which of course apps such as Status People cannot see or measure.
When measuring activity in those terms Twitter has something akin to 140 million active users per month that sign in to the site once each month. They suggest that of these 140 million, around 40% do nothing but read tweets. What's more apps such as Status People believe these people to be fake, when Twitter clearly believes them to be valuable members of the community.
In community building terms the 90:9:1 ruling seems to support this notion. It suggests that of 100 community members, 90 will passively read, 9 will respond to what is already there, and 1 will publish fresh content.
All of which might suggest that Twitter is slowly, but thankfully, moving away from a basic measure of influence and importance in terms of follower numbers towards one of clicks and reads. That is a step that both Twitter and Twitter users would be well advised to take.