Posted February 1, 2010 3:56 pm by with 10 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Basically since Twitter became popular, there have been companies offering “pay for followers” services. Back in August, for example, we talked about one company offering 1000 followers for $87. But it turns out those followers are way overpriced—the going rate on eBay is less than 1¢ per follower, as TechCrunch reports.

Some of the Buy-It-Now listings include 5,000 followers for $20 (which comes to 0.4 penny/follower), $5,500 for $40 (0.7 penny/follower), $1,100 for $10 (0.9 penny/follower). You are not actually buying followers outright (Twitter doesn’t allow people to transfer their followers), but rather services which “guarantee” getting your account up to the promised number of followers through “proven and safe methods.” Some even only count reciprocal followers (followers who follow back).

The best part, of course, is exactly how they accomplish this—you guessed it. Probably bots and spam accounts (Mechanical Turks Chinese, actually), though TC isn’t certain all the eBay purveyors use that kind of service. No wonder only 17% of Twitter users are considered active!

As TC points out, it seems like there should be some countermeasures for this from Twitter. Suggestions include such things as Verified User status, a metric of measuring engagement through ReTweeting/DMs/conversations/tweets, or displaying last login.

What do you think? How can Twitter make attracting legit followers more attractive than a fraction of a penny per fake follower?

  • Twitter shouldn’t have to do anything. If people are stupid enough to think that they can buy relationships and loyalty…as the saying goes, they get what they pay for.

  • It seems to be a common theme that once a service or website gets popular, there are people or companies that try to make a fast buck, whether or not the end result is worth anything. It seems to be a sad and desperate attempt by Twitter users to buy followers that will have no business benefit, but at least their numbers look good!

    I guess it should be buyer beware and it’s not something that Twitter could easily monitor, unless they can track unusual activity trends. Now if Google was involved…

  • It seems foolish to allow yourself to be effectively spammed by allowing someone to sell your information to an advertiser.

    It is like the email lists that were available a few years ago, not worth the time it took to download.

    Thanks for doing the math and working out the true value of a Twitter follower, hopefully the people buying the contact details will come to the same conclusions and stop the trade themselves, no demand should equal no supply.

  • I think Sean is dead-on with his reply. This is like email before people moved from the direct (spam) model to the “permission-based” model that a lot of companies are moving towards.

    You only want a follower if they want to follow you. Follows of that nature may end up being worth far far more than a penny.
    .-= Josh Braaten´s last blog ..Best Free Online Marketing Tips for Those Who Ask =-.

  • I don’t think it’s up to Twitter to make attracting legit followers attractive; if a person or company tweets solid content, legit followers will organically find their way to that information via searches and RTs. Quality of followers is more important than quantity anyway– what’s the point in having a million followers is none of them can actively engage in the conversation you’re trying to start?

  • If money is exchanged for followers, it is the same as if time was exchanged for followers. Besides, Twitter as a tool for marketing will always be filled by spam. What is the difference between marketing and spam? What makes marketing more legit than spam?
    .-= Mike Bensonn´s last blog ..The Social Search Engine =-.

  • Amazing how stupid people are.

    What are these “proven and safe” methods for getting followers?

    You can’t make (real) people follow you.

    If you pay to get 1000 followers, you’ll really have gotten nothing for your money.
    .-= Digitivity @ The Digital Life & Tools Blog´s last blog ..After the iPad: the Google Tablet? =-.

  • This is very interesting. This will just lead to people creating accounts just to be followers and earn a few cents here and there. But this misses the point of Twitter, which is to follow people who provide the most value and interest and thereby avoid cluttering your own Twitter feed.

    My recommendation is that people do not bother to follow the most followed users. When someone like John McCain has 1.7 million followers, chances are his most important tweets will filter down to you via other users retweeting his stuff.

    I had a conversation about this with @harvardsocial on Twitter just the other day, resulting in a blog post which was retweeted: “RT @rharris Blog post Follow Your Own Path: Tweets betwn me & @HarvardSocial about ideal # Twitter users U should follow

  • Pingback: Can A Twitter Account Be A Company Trade Secret? — paidContent()

  • Pingback: Who owns your Twitter followers? - CBS News - TWITTEROO.NET()