Bait and Twitch?

Twitter has become a highly valuable network for me, both professionally and personally. I believe it's one of many game changers out there - which is why I am excited to show my clients the tool, help them understand it, and determine whether it is right for their business. The service is growing by leaps and bounds and, as it does, a whole new genre of etiquette is developing related to the use of the tool emerges. However, with the good, comes the bad...

I was talking to Allen Weiss on Saturday about a disturbing trend I've noticed. Individuals who:

  • Follow Me
  • Wait for me to follow back
  • Send me a DM thanking me for the follow (using a bot)
  • Immediately unfollow me.

These folks are playing an age old game with a new Twitter name I decided to call "Bait and Twitch," and this behavior ALWAYS results in an immediate unfollow from me.

"Twitchers" (the name I gave them Saturday) follow people only to build up a large follower base. They use follow bots to send Direct messages thanking people for following them, but the reality is this: Once they are "followed back" their primary course of action is to unfollow the people who reciprocate. This frees them up to go lure more unsuspecting Tweeters into the "follow me" game. They'll follow anyone, but especially folks with a high number of followers and/or a high Twitter an attempt to get a free ride on the "influence" of others (Don't get me started on what influence is...that's another topic entirely).

What then? Well, I'm assuming they then brag about how many people are following them and how great they are.

Basically, Twitchers are a huge waste of time and fall into league with other people I find "Twepulsive" (I am addicted to twitter naming things), including:

  • Porn Spammers
  • Junk-Clicky Sales people
  • Anyone bragging about being a "Guru", "Expert" or "Maven"
  • Mediums, Psychics and Intuitives
  • SEO, Social Media Snake Oil Salespeople
  • Overzealous “life” coaches
  • Anyone aggressively pushing an MLM Business
  • Anyone touting "Get Rich Now" or "Make Big Money" schemes
  • People who claim to "Know the SECRET to..." anything
  • Tweeters who use Magpie to broadcast ads

I also tend to steer clear of people with:

  • No avatar or avatars with sleazy pictures
  • No bio or link information on their profile page
  • Cheesy/poorly done twitter backgrounds trying to sell something/someone
  • Pushy or radical extremists of about any ilk

And I am also shy about folks whose tweet streams seem:
  • Too new
  • Too shallow
  • Overly self-promotional
  • Reminiscent of a one-way broadcast (no dialog)
  • Full of repeat tweets or repeated promotions for the same link/site

To be fair, I don't follow back everyone who follows me. Sometimes I wait to see what people have to say and follow back later. Sometimes, I don't follow at all (see above). When I do find someone I find interesting, it's nice to follow each other reciprocally... However, I understand that not everyone I follow will follow in turn. Some of the folks I follow (@dooce for example, who has 44,000+ followers!) just can't keep up with little old me. That's fine. For the most part, however, the folks I follow on Twitter typically follow me in return...

So, as I attempt to build this network of interesting, stimulating, funny and thought provoking tweeps... I will shun the Twitchers. I may even call them out, as some repeat offenders emerge! I thought about starting a hashtag for #twitchers, but I can’t help but feel that would just take up MORE time and energy I don't have to expend.

For those of you thinking of unfollowing me, you've gotta do what you've gotta do. For the record, I do attempt to tweet about meaningful and relevant issues... However, I confess that I sometimes engage in some goofy dialog with @marketingprofs, @ambercadabra, @bethharte @acclimedia @kelleycrane @paisano @conniereece and others. I also tweet infrequently about working at home in my PJ's, whine over my need for coffee, my 16 month old son who still doesn't sleep at night, our 18 year old teen, and once or twice about my dog's horrid farting problem (but I'm sorry about that last one).

To better keep up on your network, consider the tips above, and using the many apps and services available for Twitter today. I have found FriendorFollow, MrTweet and TwitterGrader useful. I also use Tweet Deck (although it's a RAM hog) to manage my groups and streams. Got something to share? Post your favorite tools and Twitter peeves below!


Anonymous said...

Ha! I'd say you about covered this. Pretty funny and SO true.

- YS

Kellye Crane said...

Some great tips here! To catch the Twitchers, the service FriendorFollow you mentioned is a great one, as is My Tweeple (

I'll also let you and your readers in on a little secret of mine. I have seen a dramatic reduction in the kind of annoying behavior you describe, once I stopped following people with "Internet Marketing" in their bio. This doesn't mean everyone who uses those two magic words is unscrupulous, but it's a pretty good system!

Audrey Chernoff said...

Sometimes I get so annoyed at what you call the Bait and Twitchers that I not only unfollow but also block.
Audrey Chernoff

Emily Smith said...

I have a low tolerance for the twitter equivalent of the Quixtar devotee. I'd much rather hear about your dog's flatulance problem than the newest personal marketing trick that will get me MILLIONS!!!

I like seeing personality through "useless" tweet-banter and random posts -- makes twitter more relational and fun. Needless to say, I really enjoyed this post!

Some indispensable tools I use to filter the noise: -- I can blacklist certain words and decrease the frequency that I see certain people's tweets. -- A user-friendly way to process new followers. That way I can immediately delete email notifications and then go to tweepler to review after I get several in my queue.

Thanks for the post!

Larry said...


On the topic of infuence among Twitter users, you might find a recent post over at Skilful Minds interesting in that it looks at recent research on the topic from the Social Computing Lab at HP.

Luis Serpa said...

Great post! I really do hate twitchers (I didnt have a name for them before, so thanks for that as well!!) and they are the ones generating so much noise that are adding an added layer of validation to anyone wanting to use twitter as it was supposed to - to actually have a conversation.

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I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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