I remember the good old days back before Twitter had gone mainstream where it was a small and exclusive hangout for tech geeks and social networking addicts. There wasn’t a lot going on, and we didn’t have a lot of “celebrities” in the neighborhood, but we also didn’t have to worry about bots, spammers, and internet marketers. Sure, Twitter deserves to be set free for rapid consumption by all internet users, amateur and geek alike, but if we could only do something about these bots then Twitter could feel like home once more.
I don’t like getting my inbox hammered with spammy DM’s, and I certainly don’t like being tricked into following someone so that they can launch a full scale attack with a barrage of bit.ly affiliate links, but like so many others I didn’t really know what to do about it. Well, finally I had enough and I developed my own anti-bot strategy to keep my Twitter feed clean from Twitter spammers and other unruly scoundrels. It goes a little something like this: 1. Wait a few days before following new followers and manually vet those you do – One of the most commonly used tricks of automated Twitter spammers is to follow someone to see if they follow back. Normally, that isn’t a problem, but the difference between real people and software is that these bots will put you on a timer and unfollow you after a certain period of time so they can follow you again in order to send you another email. Still don’t follow back? No problem, the software will hammer you until you either follow back or block the user. If you wait a few days before you check out someone’s profile, it will give you a chance to see if the same name or ID shows up in your inbox more than once. If it does, then you can safely delete the notification without even taking a look at their profile…they are probably a spammer. If that doesn’t happen you can make the decision to check them out to see if they are someone you are interested in following. Thanks to Twitter’s upgraded notification emails, this is easier than it has ever been.
2. Keep an eye out for duplicate profile pictures – Spammers and bots like to use the same profile picture for hundreds of accounts and for some reason they think you won’t notice. Sometimes, they are even foolish enough to follow you with multiple accounts on the same day. I don’t know how this works, but it must considering it is a tactic that has gotten more prevalent over the past few months. The most commonly used pictures are cars, pictures of cash, dollar signs, and scantily clad women. Occasionally they’ll sneak in a normal looking profile picture just to try and fool you, but if you swear you’ve seen it before then you probably have.
3. Quote, Quote, Link – I admit, this is a smart strategy because at first glance it provides the look of an authentic Twitter profile. However, if you look a little bit closer you’ll see that this person tries to sneak in affiliate and sales page links in a manner as consistent as the 5 O’clock news. If you see a profile with an overabundance of quotes, take a deeper look. The chances are high that this person isn’t just sharing happy thoughts out of the kindness of their own heart. They are either a MLM’er or a bot trying to work you over. Nothing wrong with trying to sell, but nothing says scam like a sneaky link baiting strategy.
I don’t ever expect Twitter to stay free of sales links and marketing efforts, in fact that is one of the reasons that Twitter is such a useful tool, but I do expect people to use some sort of tact when exercising their marketing muscles. If your inbox is anything like mine, you’ve probably got more than enough spam, plenty of emails you don’t have time to read, and an overabundance of Twitter notifications that you don’t know what to do with. If you are looking for a quicker way to clean up, consider using these tactics to help you save time and the aggravation of a cluttered Twitter feed.