Many of you have gone on Twitter to see you have received a new follow request (if you need to approve followers) only to find out it is a profile for a band, or spam account seeking attention. But did you know that this is becoming a thriving business in the “Twitosphere”, “Twittersphere”, whatever you call it?
An article published by the Wall Street Journal illuminates this growing trend of managing robotic spam accounts to raise a Twitter user’s followers and influence. The article gains much of its information from Jim Vidmar, a man who is an active member of the business. Vidmar, in fact, bought 1,000 accounts just earlier this month from a supplier in Pakistan. He then had these robot Twitter accounts follow a rapper who hired him to pad his follower numbers, and then to retweet his messages to reach more followers and increase his influence on Twitter.
On the surface this seems relatively ridiculous, and a little pointless. To put it in perspective, there were an estimated 20 million of these twitter robots on sale this past summer, which is 9% of the networks active users. These robots have the power to falsely influence Twitter’s trending topics, which appear directly under Twitter’s promoted trending topic, which can cost $200,000 to acquire. Not only are these robots circumventing this fee to reach a top spot on Twitter, but they are doing it in a way that appears more genuine to the user, because it appears as if it wasn’t purchased.
This comes in the wake of Twitter’s IPO, which performed surprisingly well upon its release largely due to the social networks understood potential marketing strength. However, if Twitter, who has mostly glazed over this issue with their network, fails to address this problem, then their advertising reach may be falsely understood.
Do you think Twitter needs to take a harder line on these robot accounts? Do you think they are a non-issue? Could this business of “robot accounts” be legitimized as a marketing platform for those seeking recognition on social media, like musicians?