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By Dave Sumter
Updated 22 Apr 2016
Interaction Tricks Are Bad
Unfortunately, for as long as twitter has been around people have used tricks to get others to follow them.
Sometimes it is done in ignorance, other times it is done with the full knowledge that what they are doing is bad.
From follow-baiting, to mention spamming, to bulk retweeting/liking,
all these methods rely on one concept - trick someone into getting their attention so that they follow back.
The truth is that most of these methods are spammy, and they could get you suspended eventually.
Some can be done in good faith, and I'll discuss some situations where this might be the case.
Sending False Signals
So why is it bad to interact with people with the aim of getting them to follow you?
The short answer is that it's not. It's perfectly fine.
In fact, honest interaction is the best way to build new connections and grow engagement.
The distinction is whether the interaction has honest intentions or not.
An example of this is when you follow someone with the intention of unfollowing them as soon as they've followed you back (follow-baiting).
When you are disingenuous with your actions, you are effectively lying to your potential new followers
- and we all know that this is no way to start a new relationship.
You wouldn't do it face to face (at least I hope you wouldn't), so why do it online?
Tricks can be done with good intentions, although it's often hard to scale this practice. Let's look at an example:
It's perfectly fine to go and follow a whole bunch of people with a certain keyword in their bio
- with the honest intention of connecting with them all.
But, chances are that 95% of those people will not follow you back because they are not looking to reciprocate follows.
You can do this a few times without any issues, but at some point you will need to start unfollowing people en masse due to twitter's follow limits.
This means that you will need to start unfollowing thousands of people.
So, this trick has good intentions (you honestly want to connect with someone), but it will not scale.
Twiends tries to solve this by addressing the scaling problem - most people that join twiends have a higher propensity to reciprocate a follow.
We also make it difficult to unfollow on twiends because we don't want to enable churning.
But we are not immune to the problem, and people can just as easily resort to tricks through twiends as they can on twitter directly.
We do try make it harder for them though, and we monitor all user activity to remove those users that mass unfollow others.
This is really the crux of the problem.
Are you doing something on twitter that you wouldn't really want someone else to do to you.
Let's look at a few of these bad tricks:
This is when you follow someone, then wait for them to follow you back, and then unfollow them.
You've sent the signal that you want to connect with them, and as soon as they've responded you have turned your back on them.
What do you think they will do if they find out?
In truth, most people don't find out, and this is why this spammy method is used by some.
It is a hugely inefficient way to grow. Probably only around 5% of the people that you follow you will follow you back.
That means that even with the best intentions, you would need to unfollow 95% of the people you follow.
Let's do the maths: If you want 50,000 followers you will need to follow AND unfollow around 1 million people.
And that is if you continue to follow those 50,000 people, which in my experience is not what people using this technique do.
Who has that kind of time? Apparently the guy in the video link above does:
Bulk Retweeting & Liking
Another technique is retweeting or liking hundreds of tweets each day so that the tweet owners will see the actions and follow you.
This spammy video shows someone doing this.
Clearly you don't actually like the tweets, so you've just sent a false signal.
You may think this is harmless, but it is in fact not.
You are filling up twitter's knowledge graph about you with false information, which will make your timeline less useful as twitter moves to a more algorithmic and intelligent timeline.
Basically, you are going to start getting a lot of crap in your timeline one day.
In addition, rubbish retweets will be passed on to your followers, so they may unfollow you.
And rubbish likes may be passed on to your followers one day too if twitter moves in that direction.
This is pure and simple spam. You are sending unsolicited and irrelevant messages to others just to get their attention.
They may seem innocuous, such as messages of '@user thanks' and '@user hi', or they may be more direct messages of '@user please follow me back'.
If you are literally sending tons of massages each day with no real purpose than to get others to notice you or follow you back then you are mention spamming.
Although the actual methods may vary, these are the basic types of interaction tricks that we see today.
Avoid them, and avoid sending false signals just to get attention.
There are much better methods out there, as discussed in the rest of this guide.