Let me start by saying that I have never gamed Twitter to get more followers. Moreover, I am personally opposed to it, mostly because it makes no sense. More on that in a moment…
So if you came to this page looking for a way to game Twitter, I will share it with you in a few seconds, courtesy of my friend Jim Turner (@Genuine). Jim outlined these four steps in his BlogTalk Radio Show Social Mediasphere (he says there are five but I collapsed steps 3 and 4). In an experiment, Jim easily amassed thousands of Twitter followers in a matter of days – no content or messy relationships required.
Before you jump to the 4 Steps to Game Twitter, found at the end of this post, take just a minute to read about why it doesn't matter.
Why It Doesn't Matter
Having thousands of followers will get you nowhere without the reputation, influence and content of the person behind the Twitter account.
Twitter is full of folks with 30,000 followers and zero social capital” – Doctor_V
You can have thousands of followers and be completely unable to drive the traffic or interest that someone with only a few thousand followers can.
So why bother getting a bunch followers that could care less about who you are or what you do? Followers who in fact are only following you so that you will follow them.
If your goal is to be truly influential, or to drive sales, interest and attention, then gaming is pointless. Having thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of followers will not ensure success on Twitter.
Twitter as a Small Village
Twitter was started in March of 2006 and was launched in August 2006, but most everyone agrees that it really took off in March of 2007 at South by Southwest in Austin where it was used as a real time communication tool by some of the most connected people on the web at that time. It became a stand alone company in May 2007.
The platform was very personal at first. For instance, here is my first Tweet on January 2, 2007, from my Twitter account (Kamichat):
My first tweet, January 2, 2007
People who followed you actually knew you and you had mutual influence on each other becasue there was trust.
Some of the early adopters who were influential in other arenas, like @scobelizer, said they would follow anyone who followed them and quickly amassed thousands of followers. However, they were capitalizing on their previous popularity.
KEY: They did not become popular because of the number of followers, but rather had thousands of followers because they were already popular.
I also believe this is why President (and then candidate) Barack Obama was able to amass so many followers so quickly. First, he was popular outside of Twitter and second, he chose Twitter as a platform upon which to make important announcements, driving people to follow and even sign up for Twitter (especially journalists).
This isn't gaming the system. Gaming occurs when a regular Joe takes advantage of the way the system works to make him or herself APPEAR popular.
So without further ado, I am going to share Jim Turner's four steps to game Twitter. With these steps he was able to amass over 6K followers in about a week or so on a dummy account he created, then deleted.
Four Steps To Game Twitter
1. Sign up for a Twitter account, creative name gets you extra credit but isn't necessary
2. Automatically follow people with similar interests by searching for specific keywords and autofollowing people. One of the most well-known services for this is Twollo
3. Sign up for all of the services that help you manage your followers: SocialToo, TweetLater, My Tweeple (my fav) Friend or Follow, Mr. Tweet, TweetSum and others. Use them to unfollow anyone who doesn't follow you, preferably leaving only those that autofollow. Rinse and repeat this step daily.
5. Be sure that you auto follow people so others like you will add you.
Net Effect: Everyone would have thousands of followers making following numbers even more meaningless than they are now.
WARNING: DO NOT PAY FOR FOLLOWERS. There are some very fishy and unethical services that offer to sell you a list of 100 people who will autofollow you (the people on the list have no idea they are on it) and there are others that offer a completely unethical multilevel marketing approach where you add yourself to the list and auto follow those above you in the scheme.
DISCLAIMER: Before I get hate mail from the service providers and their fans…Any of these steps, taken separately, is not unethical and in fact, could be helpful to your Twitter experience. The overall strategy is what I am questioning.
Also, if you think I am crazy for offering up a strategy that has been proven to work to game the system, consider this: Many people are trying to make a fast buck off of misguided people who see the following number as critical part of the Twitter experience.
I agree with Jim Turner that we should freely expose all the hacks possible in order to render the black market useless and moreover, to help Twitter take action against the more egregious breaches.
- Kyle Flaherty had a great post about what it was like in the old days of Twitter, why we were all so excited about it and why many of us have lost that loving feeling.
- Jim Connolly, who amassed his 20,000 followers organically, explains why he zeroed out his Account and is starting over.
- I wrote yesterday that Twitter might be considering selling pre-loaded packs of people/businesses to follow on Twitter for its new users. The problem with these is that there is no relationship, so the content had better be spectacular
- Businesses should assess WHY they are using Twitter, and come up with a corresponding strategy to engage there. Forget gaming to get your follower numbers up. Stay tuned for Twitter strategy later this week…
And if you read this far you deserve a bonus, here is my Delicious tag with Twitter Hacks to which I will continue to add as I find them.