Twitter is a hard social media network to figure out. What's making it harder is the volume of crap that is being spewed into the network. At first it was just porn companies trying to get you to follow and click on affiliate links. But today's twitterbot networks are getting more sophisticated. Of course it's a gold rush out on the social media frontier, and twitter is much more immediate than facebook. (See also: Twitter Bot Network Invades Social Media for Business: How BotNets Work )

Here's a single slide graphic I just made about this trend and the types of bogus Twitter accounts you are likely to see.

Who's Killing Twitter and Why Are They Doing It?

View more presentations from John McElhenney  You can view or download the powerpoint slide here: Who's Killing Twitter

The Takeaway: With huge networks of seemingly legitimate Twitter accounts (we're talking 100,000+ networks) a spammer can offer social media services, through a seemingly legitimate business. Imagine their succcess when they can drive your company's Twitter following up 10,000 followers in one week. And you can imagine their successful promotion of your Twitter business will continue to rocket up.

But what's going to happen eventually, is you will notice that even with 20,000 followers on Twitter no one is clicking on your links, no one is visiting your site. And the excuse will be, Twitter doesn't work at all.

And these scams are not just limited to Teeth Whitening services and coupons. The twitterbot networks are starting to get more savvy about appearing to be legitimate "business" or "marketing" focused. Look for large groups of follows and you can see this pattern. 7 – 8 new followers have pretty good professional photos, they've got unique bios, the might even have joined Klout and started to pick up K-points. But if you look at their tweets you will see that they tweet the same thing over and over. All of them at once. Just like they followed your account, they probably ReTweeted one of your more successful "social business-related" posts. Trying to establish even more legitimacy by connecting with your Twitter ID and your reputation.

I noticed the business Twitterbots two weeks ago, when a post of mine started getting some traction within the social media circles, and then over the course of an hour I had 75 new ReTweets. BUT, the tell was… the traffic to the post was actually not growing near as quickly. So I was getting all the "activity" all this word-of-mouth promotion, but only about 5% of the retweets were legitimate and were giving me any traffic. And the retweet was specifically to provide information about social media marketing results using YouTube.

Great topic, starting to be retweeted and the twitterbots join the hype and try to infect the real people interested in learning social media. I made a 1-minute video when I first noticed the business-twitter-bots.

I hope this helps. Might need to do another video about this. What do you think?

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth) Do let me know if I can help with your social strategy needs.
permalink: http://uber.la/2011/12/twitterbot-networks/

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