The Uncomfortable Truth about Twitter Autofollowing: It Works

July 10, 2010

Website visitor data for Amorphous Blog

The number of real Twitter followers you have matters. And using borderline-spammy techniques to get those followers works too.

I run a blog called Amorphous Blog, which has a Twitter account at @amorphousblog. I spend quite a lot of time researching and writing posts for the blog (often hours at a time), so at the end of May when it was getting 20 or so visits a day, it didn’t really feel worth the effort.

That’s when I decided to start auto-following the followers of other relevant Twitter accounts (I think I chose infoviz type accounts). At the end of each day, it would unfollow anyone who hadn’t followed it back, so that it could follow some new people the next day (it was following about 100-200 people a day).

Before I started, it had about 15 followers. It now has over 800 – hopefully relevant – followers. And, as you can see from the stats above, it seems fairly convincing. The frequency of posts has remained constant (about once a week), but the additional reach of the Twitter announcement seems to bring the short-term traffic in. Sure, it hasn’t really impacted the baseline visitor number, but at least now when I publish a post that’s taken me half a day, I feel like some people actually get to see it.

Caveat: I believe this only works if you can find Twitter accounts whose followers you think would be genuinely interested in your blog if they’d stumbled across it themselves anyway. I’ve convinced myself that I’m actually doing them a favour!

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3 Responses to “ The Uncomfortable Truth about Twitter Autofollowing: It Works ”

  1. Liz Dorland on July 15, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I came here after blocking @amorphousblog. I saw it/you followed me this AM, but I routinely block any account that has only links and no conversation. I assume they are just scraping links from those they follow.

    Perhaps that was hasty and you can convince me otherwise. Note that I also usually do a quick google search when I block to be sure that my initial analysis was correct.

  2. Dan on July 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks for the comment. Note that @amorphousblog is not just links; at the moment, about 25% of the tweets on the profile are @ someone. I do monitor mentions and replies on TweetDeck for the account and respond accordingly. It’s also not spam: it only posts a link once a week, and never spams or scrapes links – i.e. it’s not a bad account. It might not necessarily be your thing, but then just don’t follow back. And if you don’t want it following you for some reason then sure, block it.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment,


  3. Vincent Roman on November 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I am struggling to see the benefit of this auto-follow technique? Is it that you can generate a few spikes, or are those times you posted articles? Beyond that the general flow of your traffic is not upwards.

    I know this is just one measure, an can and SHOULD be combined with others, but this case the graph isn’t the best visual for the point. I am finding a consistent strategy of growing audience, using good seo techniques and occasionally re-posting old articles to Twitter is very effective.

    Tip of the hat and thanks for your constant writings re: your experiences and how they can help others!

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