The entire premise of the Twitter system works on an economy of pestering and perturbing — by signing up to follow people, you’re willfully agreeing to let them distract and disturb you all day long with every projectile thought, ephemeral or substantive, that crosses their keyboard. You are signing into a digital community solely based based on the premises of self-promotion and self-congratulation. You are, in short, agreeing to have people throw their work, ideas, thoughts, whatever in your face in a constant barrage, in exchange for being able to throw the same back at them (lest you think I’m hypocritical, I don’t abdicate myself of any responsibility for acting the same way. Like I said, willful annoyances, and 300 some odd people have ostensibly agreed to tolerate these annoyances).
Twitter being an ego-based service that feeds self-worth by a series of retweets, lists, follow fridays, and so forth, one of the natural barometers of success is the size of your follow count, as in the number of people who follow you, more easily referred to as your Direct Audience. This then gives you a higher credibility ranking when people look to consider following you — par example: @villagevoice has 7,511 followers compared to the 721 it follows, meaning the Voice’s followers are seeking it out en masse; whereas @WatchRepairNY has only 124 followers yet follows 834 people, a sign that the self-described “in-house store that carries every type of watch related accessory that you could need for your valuable time piece” is seeking out followers in bulk by adding lots and lots of new people. The amount of retweets you generate or the strength of your direct audience affects your “influence” on sites like Topsy.
Twitter users know that a lot of new follows they get are purely business or ego fishing trips, hoping only that you will follow them back (I have little reason to believe @WatchRepairNY is interested in my thoughts on what Ted Dibiase is up to these days or the contents of my Saving Abel interview). I can abdicate myself of ever doing this protozoan-level scrounging task (though if @TheCharlieDay wanted to follow me back, I would not be offended).
And like any means of electronic communication, Twitter is rife with spam, spambots, porn bots, porn spam, junk mail-level advertisements and so forth. A lot of people use a service such as Twollo to generate automatic follows, so, say if I have a twote about The Pixies, the keywords will pop up in the search of a Pixies account and they will start automatically following me. Which is awesome, because I heart the Pixies. Follow. I twote something about Zicam once. They responded with a “thanks!” and sent me a coupon. RT RT RT.
It’s less awesome when you constantly get followed or @ replied by people who have not filtered out complete misfires in their auto searches.
Par example: Yesterday, I twote the phrase: “Just typed the words ‘dibs REO Speedwagon’ into an e-mail” (nevermind why)
immediately after, I got a new follower: @tampabayREOguy
There are several things wrong with your attempt to get me to follow you, guy, not the least of which is me very much not being in Tampa and you very much not understanding that Only the Strong Survive. Blocked.
But this led to an interesting idea for an experiment: can one inflate one’s Twitter statistics simply by baiting auto followers?