The Trouble with Twitter

Step one to understanding the value in self-publishing services and products.

On Twitter there’s a follow-for-follow ‘tactic’ used by many accounts.

They’re easy to spot, having almost equal numbers in follows and followers, and those numbers running into the thousands.

Ideally (from their perspective) they’ll have more followers; though the nature of the tactic doesn’t always make that possible.

To make the below easier these accounts will be called Predators.

The numbers are achieved by following as many people as possible, hoping they follow back, and then systematically un-following them, while then following a whole new group of people with likewise intent.


Systematically following only to un-follow would be a time consuming business, so lucky for those doing it there’s software out there to help; unlucky for them Twitter disproves of most of it and will even suspend/ban accounts found following vast swathes of people only to un-follow them again soon after. As with everything banned, though, just because it isn’t allowed, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen (Header image courtesy of rawpixel).

It works as many people instinctively follow followers back and from that point don’t then trawl through their follower list to see who has stopped following them.

It works even better when the Predator has something in common with the accounts they target.

Better still, when the target is new/low on numbers: it’s easier and more likely they’ll look to see who’s followed them.


A budding self-publishing author using Twitter as a promotional tool makes a few tweets containing relevant hashtags. Noticing they have a new follower after, they take an excited look at who, only to find—lo and behold—the account/person in question is also related to writing/self-publishing.

Something likely to give the target the impression they’re on the right track and have something worth hearing to say; somebody into self-publishing with a following of thousands seems to think so after all.

The Predator un-following doesn’t impact their end game to sell a product or service as their strategy relies on impulse buys.


A common stereotype of salespeople is their having an endless spiel prepared that they will insist on trying to reel off (often with a foot wedged in the door).

There’s certainly a lot of truth to it. But only an amateur or clueless member of the sales community will continue talking when the customer is ready, willing and waiting to sign on the dotted line.

If a sale is going to take place, chances are it’s while the target is looking at their new follower and the kind of things they—as a seemingly already successful self-publisher with thousands of followers—post.

Impulse buys can be important in sales for a couple of reasons.

If people only ever purchased what they intended, malls and shopping centres would have a tough time enticing vendors to higher rents; their benefit would be the sole convenience to the consumer in everything they want to buy only needing one parking space, little else.

Another time impulse buying becomes relevant is when the product/service in question doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Products and services offered by Predators can range from press releases, to editing, to hour long chats on Skype about Twitter.


Image courtesy of rawpixel

One is to promote a writer on social media using an account with a high following allegedly of people wanting to see exactly that type of thing; when coming via someone with a huge following themselves it might appear to work.

Does it?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What do you think makes for a good post (especially if having to pay for it)?

As shown vs. Social Media, success is measured by the number of likes, shares and comments a post receives.

A lot might be learned from the response to the social media posts made by those claiming they can help by making them for you.

On a personal level, there’s one particular Predator account that keeps following only to un-follow again, and so on. I don’t follow back and doubt whoever realises or cares they’re constantly attempting the same predatory tactic on the same person.

On the date of writing, these are the stats for the account’s last ten tweets:


Across TEN tweets.

The account has:

68.5k followers and is following 69.6k

Naming the account would defeat the purpose of showing how to see something that happens across the board.

If interested in how those numbers compare to genuine accounts, take a look at The Numbers Have It.

Something else to look for:

Accounts retweeting their own tweets.

It’s not as easy to spot as when someone else’s, and if done on a regular basis will continue to accumulate the occasional like, comment and share along the way until giving the appearance of a popular post.


Previously in this series:

Thanks for reading 🙂

N. P. Ryan.


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