The real zombie uprising is online (or, How you can get more out of Twitter)

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By the time you read this, I’m hoping to have fewer Twitter followers.

A couple of weeks ago I pointed you over to Atomic Tango, and Freddy’s wonderful tongue-in-cheek post about scoring more Twitter followers. If you haven’t read it yet, do so. It’s one of the truest, funniest and most interesting things I’ve ever read about Twitter.

It was funny at the time, and it made sense, but I wanted to put Freddy to the test. See, his contention is that you score more Twitter followers by doing slimy little things…and really, you do them to accomplish one slimy big thing — amass scores of fake Twitter followers so you can, well, brag about how many Twitter followers you have. And then get more Twitter followers.

Step one, according to Freddy: Keywords. Use enough of the right ones, and you draw the attention of Twitter zombies and spammers. The right keywords? Things like “MLM,” “network marketing,” “downline,” and “wealth.” And you can throw in SEO, SMM, SEM and any other buzzword used by the slimiest spammers on the net.

So I tried it out. I posted one simple tweet, packing it with keywords. I was in my office at the time, it was the end of the day, and I was headed home. Between posting that tweet and getting into my car, I gained seven new followers. On the drive home, I gained three more. Over the next couple of days, I posted five more tweets, packing each with keywords. I’ll add here that none of the tweets could have been construed as serious. In fact, I was brazen about calling out “my zombie friends” to make sure the follow process was automated. In short order I picked up about 60 new followers. I say “about” because I screwed up at first, and didn’t follow the zombies back. Those I didn’t follow dumped me within 24 hours. Lesson learned.

Those I did follow sent me automated direct messages almost immediately, offering to sell something. Awesome.

Then I realized what I had done. I ruined Twitter.

Now my stream is polluted with SEO experts, get-rich-quick schemes, automated tweets about blog posts from months ago and lots of ways I can use the Law of Attraction to make my life better. I don’t need Twitter for that; I already have an e-mail account.

Before this little experiment, Twitter was a pretty good news feed. I follow news outlets, tech journalists, local people and folks I consider experts (not people who call themselves experts) in fields that interest me. Sure, I’ve built a couple of lists to pull them from the haystack I created, but that just didn’t work for me.

So now I’m going to tell you the real secret of Twitter: Follower counts don’t mean anything. Nothing.?The only folks who have a lot of followers are celebrities and liars. That’s it. Why? Because everyone on Twitter believes they’re a leader; nobody wants to be a follower. We’re obsessed with our own follower counts because, well, what’s the sense in posting anything at all if there are only three people listening?

The sense is here: If you use the methods above and score 97 more followers than the three you used to have, there are still only three people listening. Zombies can’t hear you and won’t respond.

Want to get the most out of Twitter? Stop thinking about who’s following you and start concentrating on who you follow. There are brilliant people (like Freddy) posting brilliant things. And don’t worry about whether they’re following you back; follow them because you’re interested.

You get the most out of Twitter not by talking, but by listening. And if you’ve got engaging content to put up, do it. Talk to your followers. Respond to those you follow. Have a conversation. But don’t do any of it for the numbers. That’s the secret.

So…

I’m headed over to my Twitter account. And I’m unfollowing all the spammers, zombies and slimeballs.

I’m better company than that.

15 Responses to The real zombie uprising is online (or, How you can get more out of Twitter)

  • Josh says:

    Well said, Dan. Twitter’s a conversation. If you’re there to run the place or just sell, sell, sell, you won’t get anything out of it. Be there to learn, share, and interact with people.

    • Daniel says:

      Agreed. I think too often people try to use Twitter only to broadcast their own message. And like any medium, it’s really become overrun by slimy spammers and opportunists trying to make a buck. The only way to keep those types at bay is to stop following them. If you do, they’ll stop following you. And when they find no value on Twitter, they’ll go away.

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  • Shane L. says:

    Any account that isn’t operated by a real, live person making tweets of substance gets blocked. Like you say, Josh, I’m here for the conversation and great links (like this one you posted), not products. Good post, Daniel.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Shane! Another point is that Twitter still hasn’t really started to monetize. At some point there will be an ad model; that’s inevitable. I’m glad that so many brands are online, but I want them tweeting on behalf of their companies for customer support, connection and fun — not outright selling. Right now there are too many zombies polluting the stream with garbage.

  • Holly says:

    I’m not a spammer, a slimeball, and I’m only a zombie on Mondays, yet you still unfollowed me! I’m just a blogger from NY. Of course, I didn’t even know you were following me until Qwitter informed me. So I came looking for you… (I’m not creepy, honest.)

    I honestly don’t get Twitter- any random tweet I put out there immediately gets buried under other people’s multiple tweets. No one ever responds and I rarely find anything of interest from others- except of course, this blog, which has actually proved to be interesting.

    Happy Weekend and best wishes,
    Holly

    • Daniel says:

      Sorry, Holly. You’re re-followed. Thanks for stopping by! I may have been a little heavy-handed when I unfollowed all the zombies…tough to keep track! Be patient, and follow people who say interesting things (like me!). Respond when you’ve got something to say. It’s that simple. It’s a matter of finding what you think can be valuable…and again, concentrate on what you take from it, not what you’re leaving.

      Thanks for tracking me down, and happy blogging!

  • kcb704 says:

    This is by far one of the better blogs about twitter I have read. I applaud you. I do admit that I get caught up on the number of followers I have, but in the end, twitter is a lot funner when you focus on who you follow and engage. Thanks.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoyed my story. I think we all get caught up in our follower numbers, but I’ve found that some of the most brilliant people I follow don’t have huge numbers. But that’s because they don’t cheat.

  • JUST WRITE CAUSE I LIKE YOUR NAME DANIEL LOVELL ITS KOOL I THOUGHT
    I WOULD JUST LET YA KNOW THAT. i HAVENT JOINED TWITTER SEEMS LIKE EVERYONE IS MAKING REMARKS THAT ARE JUST BLAH BLAH BLAH FOR ATTENTION .YOU AT LEAST ARE TALKING ABOUT SPORTS WHICH IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT. LOVELL

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Lovell! I agree with you…sometimes there’s too much blabbing on Twitter. You just have to find people who post interesting things and only follow them. It can be rewarding.

  • SORRY ABOUT THE MISSED SPELLED WORDS I didnt have my coffee yet!! lol

  • Great post, and I agree with you. I almost would have bet I could have told you what the results of your experiment were going to be. It’s amazing that I’ll be talking to someone and maybe mention a specific word I’m not thinking about, then suddenly I notice certain accounts following me and my receiving spam messages. Of course I check everyone out and almost never end up following any of those accounts, and I report all spam messages and block those accounts immediately.

    Twitter is about listening, but to me it’s also about engagement. That’s probably why I have 3 times as many people following me as I’m following. I’ve probably spoken to almost all the people I’m following at least once; that’s pretty cool to me. It’s all I really ask for, along with all the other things I learn.

    • Daniel says:

      In general, I follow people who interest me. It’s nice when folks talk to me, but not always necessary. I’ve certainly met lots of nice folks on Twitter.

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