June 12, 2012
Nearly Half of all Twitter Followers are Bots
Research last year revealed that most Twitter users were unaware when they were talking to a bot on Twitter, which perhaps goes some way to explaining new findings that nearly half of the followers of some of the biggest brands are actually bots.
The study, conducted by Marco Camisani Calzolari, a communications professor in Milan, revealed that up to 46% of Twitter followers of companies were actually either generated by bots or were bots themselves.
The study included analysis of nearly 40 leading brands, including @DellOutlet, @BlackBerry, @CocaCola, @IKEAITALIA and @VodafoneIT, trying to distinguish fake followers from real ones based on their behavior.
“The number of followers is no longer a valid indicator of the popularity of a Twitter user, and can no longer by analyzed separately from qualitative information,” Calzolari said.
Sadly, many marketers still use the follower number as a measure of how successful their Twitter activity is, which is almost like a form of feedback addiction. Alas it does little to prove the real value of what they do.
Calzolari said companies could not be blamed necessarily for the presence of fake followers because they often delegate their PR activities on social networks to third parties.
“In some cases, the web agency or media center executives have chosen to take short cuts in order to demonstrate to companies, who are oblivious, that their activities have been successful by generating lots of new users,” he said.
A sample of 10,000 followers was analyzed for each company. A software used a random algorithm to extract a sample selection of followers and two classed of parameters established whether the user’s behaviors is most likely to be human or carried out by a bot.
A user who logged into Twitter through different clients, a profile containing a name, an image or a physical address, or which uses punctuation in posts was associated among other things with characteristics that are probably human.
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