An Unbelievable Twitter Scheme That, Sadly, Actually Works

in Editor's Corner

There are ways to buy followers on Twitter, as we’ve seen with John’s review of SocialKik. SocialKik’ll cost you approximately $25 up to $60 to get a decent amount of followers in a week or two. That is pretty cheap.

I spent more on the book Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day, than I could have spent on SocialKik. Is that not a kick in the pants? (Okay, that was bad).

The Price of a Twitter Follower… is apparently next-to-nothing.

But… as it turns out, it gets even CHEAPER. You, my friends, can have thousands and thousands of followers for the mere cost of a dinner at the Outback.

Introducing 5DollarTweets.com. Yep, you read that right. 5 bucks with them’ll get you

  • 1000 shoutouts, or
  • Access to an account that has 1000 followers, or
  • 100 RTs, which they promise will subsequently reach 50,000 followers

With the intent of either growing your following or spreading the word about whatever you want.

5 Dollar Tweets

This was news to me. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe these businesses existed; I just didn’t realize their power.

You’re skeptical, right? Yeah. So was I at first.

I did a little investigating. Instead of taking lunch break, I decided to play Tia the Twitter Investigation Advocate. I set out to prove this scam – this web of deceit which was robbing innocent tweeple of their hard earned 5 bucks!

The Investigation & My Hypothesis

How this all started: An account by the handle @VictoriaHuntt started following me. I’m a little careful about who I follow (despite my close follow/follower ratio), so I checked her out. Looked pretty interesting. In fact, I almost retweeted one of her little comical tweets. This account definitely had me fooled.

For some reason I did not follow “her.” Mainly, I think, because I was distracted by this tweet in “her” stream:

5 Dollar Tweets .com

Oh, really, Victoria!? $5, you say…? Hmm. Well, who can say no to something that’s only 5 bucks, right? It doesn’t even matter what it is. All that matters is that it’s only $5.

So I took the bait. I clicked the link. I immediately thought, “This is probably one of those mylikes.com things and she just made 20 cents off me!” No biggie. I was still interested.

It was then that I saw the ridiculous looking screen shot up top. I realized that this was a crazy Twitter follower-getting scheme. Worse than the others, though, because of its total cheapness. Not even a hint of sophistication.

They didn’t even have many followers as a business!

5 Dollar Creeps - I mean, Tweets

Disgusted, I took my investigation further. I wanted to see who these suckers were and prove that this kind of thing doesn’t work.

My hypothesis: The “accounts” that do all of this promotion are all fabricated, cross-following accounts that give the impression that your tweets are actually going somewhere, when they are not. That is what I set out to prove.

The Suckers (Or so, it seemed)

I’m going to do my best to conceal the identities of these suckers.

#1

Just from this tweep’s name, I immediately discredited him. Besides, the account seemed like a splog account to me, especially from the way it was being promoted (which made me throw up a little in my mouth):

I had my first sucker, I thought. 151 followers! That sure sucks. With over 1440 tweets at the time, to me, that was a sign of sucking.

First sucker down. Moving onward.

#2

It was pretty easy to detect this sucker, too. This account had 1 tweet – its first and only, apparently. 53 following, 24 followers. And lots and lots of shoutouts. Sucker. If he had just tweeted 10 times that day, he would have had 24 followers FREE.

I mean, how it is not possible for this self-improvement man to get tons of new followers, especially with tweets like, “Thank you XXX for changing my life. Keep up the good work!” from @CharlotteMorgn, @ElaineRogers1, AND @joannekerns!?!? (and that’s in addition to the RTs you see in the below image)

There were other suckers. And then there was something different.

#3

This is where I got tripped up. My investigation came to a halt. “So soon!?” I thought. “This can’t be!”

With over 4681 followers at the time, and roughly the same number of tweets as sucker #1 above, and a real website link, and a real Twitter background, I was in shock. How could a real company go for something so cheap as 5 dollar tweets!?

Because, sadly, it works.

And this account is no Twitter troll, I’ll tell you that much. They are regular tweeters with an apparently active following; they don’t just spit out links.

sucker3

How do I know they are a 5 dollar tweets client? Or, maybe a friend?

Because I searched for this account using the @ symbol and below is what I found. I have to insert such a small image because at full size, it’s 400 px wide by over 1100 px long (just click to enlarge it). It’s an entire page of nearly back to back tweets from “accounts” recommending the follow.

5-dollar-tweet-campaign

Click to Enlarge

The Piranhas

piranhaThe piranhas were easy to discover once a couple suckers were found. There was very little variation between their “shoutouts,” and of course, what with them being on rotation and all, you could go from account to account and the only difference you would see is in their photo and name. No websites are attached to the accounts, and some have no bio (some do).

The important thing to note about the piranhas…

… is that they are stealthy, sneaky little traps. I was seconds away from following one. Within a week I would probably have been following 50 without realizing what was happening. I might not have ever retweeted their cheesy shoutouts. But still, Klout status or TwitterGrader status, for example, is not only earned by the quality of your tweets; it is also earned by the quality of who is following you. So these little bots are claiming in Klout with every new, real follower that they snag.

Klout and its debatable uselessness aside, my real issue with this is that it works. These auto accounts look so real at first that they pick up non-automated accounts easily, ensnaring folks who care less than I do about their tweets. And then, real accounts start retweeting this garbage. If you ever had a hatred for captive, bathroom-stall advertising, note that this is the same exact thing.

It’s a disgrace to marketing.

The Flipside – Who Cares?

There is another side that I need to address. And that is the side of “Who cares?” If people want to buy followers cheaply and take their chances at this kind of Twitter marketing, so be it. They are not out much, right? It’s so low risk for them that they don’t care (or shouldn’t). And as for their followers, well, they should be more careful about who they follow.

I’m Not a Hater – Okay, Maybe I Am

Unfortunately, I successfully proved that my hypothesis was FALSE. These things really do work. They build followers, and not all of the followers are mind-eating tweetbots. Some are real people.

How does the saying go? Hate the game, not the player? Or, hate the player, not the game?

Whatever. In this case I hate them both.

I’m not really sure if my disgust is at the price or the process. Perhaps it is the combination. Perhaps it was that I was a near victim of a piranha, following an automated account that would use MY hard-earned clout to boost their own cheap sales.

I recommend NOT buying into these services. Your attention is worth more than $5. Or at least, it should be.

Image Credit: (piranha) Shutterstock