It goes without saying Twitter has shaped social media beyond anything we could have imagined. It’s no surprise, however, there are people out there who have learned to exploit Twitter and its users for their own ends. Here we’re going to explore some of those exploits and how to protect your account and business reputation.
Bot Twitter accounts
Bot accounts are fake users set up to look like real people for the intention of sharing spam or malware.
The first thing to notice about a ‘Bot’ (short for robot) account is most of the posts are automated, hence the name. Posts such as ‘So bored today’ or ‘Heading to the gym for once’ for example, aim to make the account look like a genuine person. The posts usually include a suspicious looking shortened link (see example).
Depending on the purpose of the Bot you may also see retweets or embedded videos which you or your customers definitely do not want to see!
Bots tend to spread spam or malware by following accounts or ‘liking’ other user’s posts based on keywords deemed popular or trending at that time. This can then lead to posting suspicious links tagging in the followed accounts.
It goes without saying you do not want this type of account following, liking or interacting with your account and you certainly should not follow these accounts. We’ll come on to what to do about this in a moment.
‘Baddies’ are fake accounts set up to look like real people with the intention of creating a network of Twitter accounts sharing the same website or a link to a product. This is considered a ‘black hat’ marketing technique.
The difference with Bots and Baddies is their purpose. As mentioned, Bots tend to be obviously automated and designed for a malicious purpose. On the other hand, Baddies though automated are controlled with more thought put into the content they post and will form part of a bigger network of accounts. Their intention is to increase traffic to the websites they post about.
Though Google is reported to take some consideration from ‘social signals’ when ranking websites, it’s more important to focus on the time spent on the website, known as the ‘bounce rate’, as Google includes this in its decision of where to rank your website. A high bounce rate tells Google the content of the website is not very good and so the ranking will drop.
Put simply, a network of Twitter accounts may increase a click rate but could have a devastating effect on the ranking of the website on search results overall.
Why you shouldn’t have either Bots or Baddies interacting with you
When starting your Twitter account, it’s very easy to get excited by any new followers, but it’s vital you check out who they are. If you are unlucky enough to have a Bot or a Baddie follow or interact with you, it is in your best interest to both block and report the account.
This not only protects your account from being tagged in any suspicious posts which could tarnish your hard earned brand reputation, but also may stop your followers suffering the same fate, as once blocked the Bot or Baddie can no longer access your followers or following list.
Reporting the account also alerts Twitter to the unethical behaviour of the user and will assist in removing this type of account from the platform altogether.
Additionally, it seems apt to mention the troublemakers of Twitter. These are genuine accounts controlled by unscrupulous people who only seek to cause trouble or ‘troll’ other Twitter users.
As a business or brand it is vital that you do not engage with this sort of behaviour.
To ensure you are dealing with a troll and not just an unhappy customer the best thing you can do is review the troublemaker’s timeline and if you see consistent ‘trolling’ or unacceptable behaviour, then as with the Bots and Baddies ‘stop, block and roll’ away from Twitter users that serve no purpose to you or your business.
Have you come across Bots or Baddies before? Any tips to add? Let us know in the comments below.