In the Fake Follower Count Of 11 Top Tweeters report from Huffington Post, folks learned that popular accounts can have a lot of fake followers.
In my test using the Status tool, I found that it reports @Twitter itself to have a lot of fakes:
- Fake: 42%
- Inactive: 35%
- Good: 23%
So that made feel a little better when I checked its report on @TweetSmarter:
- Fake: 11%
- Inactive: 32%
- Good: 57%
Almost 4 times less fakes than @Twitter. Of course, I had to check our old account name, @Twitter_Tips:
- Fake: 1%
- Inactive: 20%
- Good: 79%
Note that these are people that followed @Twitter_Tips after it had closed. (For the whole story on the name change, click here.)
So, What Do Fake Followers Mean?
All in all, unless the tool reports a LOT of fake followers, I’m not sure it’s very helpful in understanding popular accounts. Of course, for new or smaller accounts, having a lot of fake followers would be a serious red flag.
While I’ve never bought or advertised for followers, years ago I used to follow groups of influential accounts wherever interesting news was happening, and may have picked up a few fakes that way.
But mostly I expect that we’re simply popular enough to be “credible” and spammers/fake accounts like to follow a few credible accounts to make themselves seem more “real.” (For example, our Klout score today is 80, and it was 87 when Klout added us to their “Klout Stars” program.)