How to Manage Spam-Like Twitter Followers?

I need advice. I don’t actually Twitter much (except from conferences) although I’ve set up discourse.net to feed a notice to twitter whenever I write something (and also to tweet when something appears on Jotwell). And to be honest I don’t even read the aggregate of other people’s Twitter feeds that often (although I do once in a while), as there’s just too much, and I can’t cope with the firehose.

But I do get emails whenever someone follows me — now running an average of almost two a day it seems. Many are real folks. That’s nice. A few others may be real folks but they seem to be pornographers or the like. I block them. My question is what to do about the followers who while not pornographers seem to be firms with no connection to what I write about, but seem instead to be firms using Twitter to promote themselves (e.g. auto repair, office supplies). Sometimes when I check their feeds they seem to be genuinely interested in, say, privacy issues, most most often every post just promotes their firm.

Should I block them? Report them as spam? Ignore them? I don’t much care about my 580-something Twitter followers; it takes different things to feed or deflate my ego. But there is a different reason why I might care: On the one hand, I don’t like spammers, and if they are getting some benefit from this behavior I’m going to be on board to make the effort, up to some point, to deny them that benefit in service to the commons. On the other hand, it’s one more darn thing to worry about and choosing which people to block is not costless — the process of trying to figure out if they are for real or not does take some amount of effort I’d just as soon not expend if the exercise is pointless.

So, Twitter users, what are the relevant norms? Should I care about this?

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8 Responses to How to Manage Spam-Like Twitter Followers?

  1. Turn off the notification emails, and cultivate a consciousness untroubled by the hopes and fears of knowing who is paying attention.

  2. Rob says:

    You pretty much answered your question, it’s a matter of time vs. dislike for spammers. Personally, I don’t think that a local realtor or mechanic following on twitter is spam per se. One of the reasons I came to twitter so easily as opposed to most other social media is the lack of care or concern that it requires. One can easily ignore twitter for any length of time and never have to make socially awkward decisions regarding friend requests. Likewise, nobody can inflict spam on you on Twitter, only if you choose to follow a spammer.

    Anyway, I just followed your twitter account.

  3. CLJ says:

    Who cares who is following you? Maybe they opened their twitter account for their business, but if they are not messaging you with SPAM, what’s the problem?

    Unless it’s a website like istalkfemalebloggers.net. That would be of concern, of course.

  4. Lynn says:

    Companies join Twitter to interact with their customers and potential customers. Part of that is telling people what you have to offer them. Smart companies also mix in plenty of educational information or links to news that would be of interest to their customers, as well as interacting with their followers. But just because they haven’t learned to do that yet doesn’t make them spammers. If you don’t like what they’re posting, unfollow them! You don’t have to follow back every person who follows you.

    I also get e-mails on who’s following me, for both my Twitter accounts. Sometimes, on my retail site’s page (OldMaidCatLady), they’re people I’ve followed because they’re in my target customer group. Sometimes they’re not potential customers because they’re outside the geographic area where I market my retail site, so I don’t follow them back. Do I tweet about new products I’ve added to my site? You bet! How else am I to let people know about them? But I hope that the people who follow me also get lots of good information they can use, as well. And I read my Twitter stream often enough to interact with people and know what’s going on in my market. Some may unfollow me; I don’t get notifications on that so I don’t know for sure. But I have had the same person follow me more than once, so I gather those are people who are fishing for follow-backs and unfollow when they don’t get them. So they have a different Twitter strategy than I do. Would you consider me to be a “spammer” just because I share with potential customers what I have to offer? I hope not!

  5. Like you I try to block/report as spam people who seem genuinely dodgy – @replies with suspect looking links included – because I think it’s good if such people are kicked off the platform. But for the rest, the self-promoters and genuine but apparently random followers, just ignore them. The ‘benefit’ the random self-promoters (as opposed to the out and out spammers) are seeking is for you to notice them and follow them back. Theyaren’t, however, doing anything really damaging to others. Simply by ignoring them you are denying them whatever benefit they were after.

    Given how you’ve described how you are using Twitter, I’d also agree with James about turning off the email notifications and stop worrying about following people back.

  6. SteveBM says:

    I have all my tweets protected so I have to approve everyone that requests to follow me. If it’s a business or someone I don’t know that is outside of SoFL, chances are I’m denying them.

  7. Susan says:

    I just created a business twitter account. Now I am getting asian women followers every few minutes. Unbelievable. Thanks for the suggestion to turn off the email notifications. This will help a lot.

  8. Sk says:

    I use TwitBlock.org and Tweepi to remove spam followers regularly. They are really wonderful.

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