New Twitter users tend to feel hopelessly behind as they see other users with 10,000, 30,000, 50,000 followers or more. So it’s tempting to look for a shortcut.
That makes them an easy target for software and services promising to add thousands of new followers by magic. And the programs seem dirt cheap on their face — $55 for unlimited use, 1,000 followers for $19. Who wouldn’t consider such a deal?
You shouldn’t, and when you think about how these services work, I think you’ll agree. There are variations, of course, but for the most part, these programs require that you start following tens of thousands of Twitter accounts, wait a few days for those users to reciprocate by following you back, then “unfollow” the ones who don’t follow you. The programs usually do the work for you, but do you really want your “follow” decisions being made by a machine?
There are a couple of things to keep in mind about these programs. First, the followers have little or no value to you or your clients. Sure, you’ve got thousands of followers, but who are they, really? And since by its nature this type arrangement relies on people who reciprocate every “follow,” you can end up with a lot of followers who are really just spammers following other spammers.
The true “cost” of these followers is that they render your own Twitter account useless as a tool for monitoring news and information about topics that interest you. Instead of following a few hundred (or even a few dozen) people you’re really interested in, you’re now following thousands and thousands of random accounts and spammers, so the posts you care about get lost. (While most of these programs use keywords to try to focus on followers with similar interests, the reality is that it’s impossible to get thousands of followers without picking up a lot of junk.)
Finally, remember that the beauty of Twitter (as opposed to Facebook) is that you can reach thousands of people beyond your list of followers by using well-researched hashtags and search terms. That’s a topic for another post, but it’s important to understand that your reach for a specific message can and should go far beyond your follower base.