A third party app is required to do this, but the good news is that it’s free, automated and runs in the cloud.
If This Then That (IFTTT) can do a bunch of cool automations, called ‘recipes’. It will read off hundreds of different platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The recipe I’m using is “Share your Instagram pics as native Twitter photos” which will monitor your Instagram posts, and automatically copy and tweet anything you do with the Instagram image embedded. You don’t need to use the Twitter option on Instagram itself, as Instagram isn’t doing the work here.
To set this up:
1. Sign up for IFTTT (free), either ignore or go through their introduction.
2. Go to the Recipe and ‘Connect’ to each channel for Instagram and Twitter
3. Click ‘Add’ on the Recipe window (this shows up once the channels
4. Go to ‘My Recipes’ in the top bar. You’ll see the recipe where you can turn it off, run now (not needed to do since it runs when a new image is posted on your Instagram only) and you can edit the recipe if you want it changed, such as using different text.
That’s it. Post a photo on Instagram and see what happens!
As mentioned in Part Two, I wanted to test how well paying $5 for a bunch of clicks to your site went. I paid another US$5 for someone selling ‘I will do social media marketing campaign within my 9M Facebook and Twitter fans’ – sounds rather dubious.
I gave them a URL on my website: http://www.adamfowlerit.com/dirty/ which contains a cute picture of a rabbit, and waited to see what happened.
I can’t find any records of this link being shared in social media, but they somehow managed to generate a bunch of hits, over a 4 day period. Funnily enough, after this there is absolutely zero hits:
Traffic to the specific URL
The seller also created a pretty graph via Google Analytics apparently showing where the clicks came from, passing it through a shortened URL:
Google Analytics of URL traffic
I’m reasonably confident all this traffic was faked, along with the sources, browsers, countries etc. None of that is overly difficult to fake.
Thirdly, here’s the overall traffic to my website with the ‘marketing campaign’ hits rather obviously in the middle:
Overall Site Hits
Traffic after the campaign ended went back to normal. As a side note, it’s interesting to see the dips on my site over the weekend, versus the buildup during the week to Wednesday. This cycle is consistent unless I publish a popular article, or gets picked up by a news site or reddit (it occasionally happens!).
Two major points I take away from this – it’s easy and cheap to generate ‘traffic’ which appears real and varied, and don’t believe any claim in traffic or hits, even if you see the end results.
Back on the Twitter front, I’ve done absolutely nothing with @AdamFowlerITCom but it’s looking more legitimate to me. I’m getting what appears to be more real followers (or good fake ones) as well as thanks for adding people to a list from an automated method:
I think I’ve set out what I planned to achieve – showing that it’s very easy to build up an appearance of having huge numbers of followers, and unless someone digs deep it will appear to be legitimate after you get real followers on the account too. Also, fake traffic is incredibly cheap to generate – so take everything with a grain of salt.
I have some theories and questions around Twitter, follower counts and reach – so I thought I’d put some stuff to the test. Each social network is different, and in turn will attract both people trying to make a quick buck as well as people looking to exploit it.
I plan to try a few different cheap methods of social influence on Twitter, and see what happens. I’ve been curious about it for a while, but honestly I don’t really trust anything out there as there’s usually an angle someone’s pushing for (such as selling SEO type services) and trying to make money for themselves. I’m not, which hopefully is clear from this write up.
I also don’t want to discount the idea of value from influencing. I am personally an influencer in a few programs, but all this means is I have access to products and information that I can share how I please, because I have a perceived audience who will listen. It definitely works – an example off the top of my head is Oprah’s Book Club. Any book she recommends hits all the top sellers lists once she recommends it. The Oprah effect is real and valuable, and I’m happy with this method as long as it really reflects’s the person’s views and they’re honest in what they say. For myself, I only go into programs of products I actually like, and as long as the other side is aware that I’m not going to blindly praise anything I get – it will be honest and fair comments made publicly.
My preconceived ideas:
A lot of people have huge followers on Twitter, and I think many buy followers for influence.
Buying followers is cheap and easy.
Getting influence through lots of fake followers, and getting fake accounts to write something for you actually gives you hits to your website.
People will see the amount of followers you have being huge, and think you actually have a big influence, which will lead to real opportunities.
Questions I have are:
Is it actually as easy as I think to get thousands of followers?
How long will it take?
How many hits can I get to a blog post by solely getting it tweeted out by a bunch of fake accounts?
How much will this cost?
Is any of this better than what an ‘SEO Expert’ will do, costing many times more?
I’m hoping the results of this will give a little less credit to many who abuse the system, and highlight that the quality of followers you have on Twitter is much more important than the actual number. Maybe I’ll be completely wrong, my tests will work amazingly well, we shall see.
I’ll probably find other interesting things to try in this process also, I’ll keep everything transparent as I continue through it.
Step One – Create a Twitter Account
I’ve already put step one into action. I’ve created @adamfowleritcom which has zero followers and zero followings. Zero tweets too. I’ve changed the picture from Twitter’s egg to a very unexciting text about my website. I don’t want to actually use this account at the end of this test for my blog as I believe this to be ethically wrong, and I use my normal Twitter account @AdamFowler_IT anyway – but I may leave it untouched so readers can see the results.
Step Two – Buy Followers
I’m not sure the best place to even buy followers. I could search on Twitter for all the accounts that spam ways of getting followers, but instead I’ve decided to use Fiverr. This way, it’s going to cost $5US a shot, and I’ll pick someone who has actual feedback. I don’t want to promote who I choose, because I’m not doing this to promote the actual usage of buying followers. It’s a very small amount of money and maybe there’s cheaper out there…
There’s a lot to choose from, so I picked one that promised 7500 followers, and another that promised 7000 followers. 14,500 total, and it takes 1 – 2 days to deliver. If they don’t deliver, I can just get a refund from Fiverr and try again.
I feel a little dirty already from doing this, like I need a shower dirty. I’ll wait a few days and provide an update.
Twitter is an amazing resource, but not overly friendly to newcomers. Personally I’ve been using it for several years, and have seen how powerful Twitter can be. I remember back when HP had their fire sale of tablets and I raced down to Harvey Norman to grab a bargain. The local store had no idea why a giant line of people had formed, and started to send people away. I sent a quick tweet to @HarveyNormanAU who were on the phone to the store within a minute, and the giant queue of people were able to grab their bargain tablets.
This isn’t the only story I have which shows how useful and powerful Twitter is – from a business sense I’ve made plenty of contacts, and it even kickstarted my writing career by having a quick and open way of engaging with other writers and publishers, compared to the more intrusive one to one of email.
I’ve been quoted by news.com.au, I’ve won things like a Windows tablet, a digital radio, an Xbox One and several other items I can’t even remember. I’ve spoken to experts in the industries I care about for finding answers to questions, and now have a steady enough stream of devices to review for my blog and other websites from great companies like Microsoft, Lenovo and Intel.
On top of that, I’ve made some great friends and contacts. One has given me a spare phone for a project I was working on around a baby monitor, and others have selflessly helped me troubleshoot problems or be a great sounding board. Others are just great to catch up with when I get to travel interstate, or to conferences like Microsoft TechEd/Ignite.
In turn, I’ve tried to help others where I can. If I see someone ask for information or an opinion on something, I’m happy to share it. I’ll retweet interesting things I find, and share solutions written on my blog and other places too. I’ve passed on tickets to events to others when I couldn’t go.
I don’t say all the above to brag, but to highlight that this is available to anyone who puts the effort into Twitter. I didn’t sit back and wait for these things to come to me, but Twitter was the simple platform that enabled all these things to occur. These rewards of participation aren’t instant – they take time to build up, and this is often the reason people give up on Twitter early on. Facebook as a comparison gives you instant gratification from family and friends, with ‘likes’ on everything written in an instant.
Because of all this, I’ve decided to write a brief intro guide to Twitter of tips and tricks to someone new to the platform.
Start following a bunch of people. Don’t just pick 10 or 20, chances are the ones you pick will only post occasional tweets. Twitter should be a constantly new experience every time you read it, even if you read it half an hour ago.
If you don’t know who to follow, look up a few celebrities/companies or do searches on keywords/topics that interest you. Celebrities and companies are good for a source of ‘news’ but generally not good for interraction. Katy Perry isn’t going to respond to anything you say to her, with her 76 million followers.
Follow even more people – if there’s someone who tweets interesting things, look at who they follow and follow them. Don’t bother trying to hunt down all your friends and family, that’s what Facebook is for.
Make Twitter a positive experience. Don’t dwell on negatives, that’s not much fun for anyone involved. If there’s someone tweeting things you don’t like, or opinions you don’t agree with, just unfollow. You can try having a discussion which will work occasionally, but don’t expect to change someone’s view. There’s plenty of other people to follow instead.
Unfollow without concern. and apply liberally. You’re not on Twitter to read about things you don’t like, so just click the Unfollow button. They won’t care you unfollowed them, and they may not have been following you anyway.
When you start a tweet with someone’s Twitter handle (e.g. if you were tweeting at me, you’d start with @AdamFowler_IT), only people who follow both you and the person you’re tweeting to, will see the tweet in their main feed. This is confusing when you first start using Twitter. If you want everyone to see your tweet in their feed, don’t start it with someone’s handle. The tweets that start with someone’s Twitter handle (known as a mention) are not private, they can still be viewed by anyone who looks directly at YOUR feed.
Don’t expect a response from a tweet. You may get one, but don’t get stuck up expecting something back – and if you do, it might not be for hours. Think of it more as idle chatter.
Favoriting a tweet (that little star) has turned into Twitter’s “like” button. It doesn’t do any harm to favorite a tweet, so use liberally.
A retweet is not an endorsement. If someone retweeted something, it might be because they liked it, agreed, thought it was interesting, or it’s their way of pointing out something ridiculous. Don’t get worked up about a retweet, and if you really don’t like what someone retweets, there’s the option to ‘turn off retweets‘ on a particular user.
Share interesting stuff. Post links to websites on things you find interesting, while making your own commentary. Make your own comments on things that interest you.
Don’t go hashtag crazy. Hashtags are just a way to easily search on something, so if I was tweeting about Microsoft, I could use #Microsoft to make that text searchable via a click, or easy to find if someone else is searching on that topic. The thing is, people can still search on the word Microsoft anyway. #Reading #Things #With #Excessive #Hashtags hurts the brain, makes it hard to read, and quite frankly would receive an unfollow from myself. Marketers are the biggest infringers of hashtag madness, which is another reason to ignore them. Hashtags do make sense when you’re at an event or talking about a specific topic, but this is only for timely things. It’s why a hashtag makes sense for a TV show – you can connect and read or chat with others who are having the same experience as you.
Once you’re used to the Twitter basics, try Tweetdeck. It’s now web based, and owned by Twitter. It gives you a lot more visibility of what’s going on, by showing multiple columns of information at once. You can see your feed, your mentions, direct messages and a bunch of other stuff all on one screen. It’s a bit confusing for a new user, so get used to the standard twitter.com interface first.
Don’t set up automatic messages. Getting a direct message (which is a private message to you) from someone just because you followed them is annoying. My rule is to unfollow anyone who does this, because it’s an indicator they’re probably a marketer in some sense, or will just not be a good person to follow due to their content. This applies to other systems like Fitbit/runkeeper, TV shows, or how many followers you have. Generally, people don’t care about these things apart from yourself and don’t want to see an automated piece of information about you daily. One of the worst is seeing people’s daily horoscope… just don’t do it!
If you’re not sure about something, ask. Twitter folk are generally very friendly and there to socialise and learn, and are happy to help others.
Change that egg avatar that you get by default straight away. You won’t be taken seriously with it, it’s very impersonal and often used by lazy spammers who haven’t scripted a different photo to be set up on their fake accounts.
All this can seem a bit daunting, but if you put in a bit of effort, stick with it and follow people who interest you. I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of things, so feel free to add any comments of your own or ask any questions!