A sudden surge in Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s Twitter followers has started making the rounds in the news. Our friends at Mashable have reported that Zach Green of 140elect.com, a blog that monitors Twitter trends revolving around end Presidential election, found an abnormal surge in Romney’s Twitter activity.
Romney normally receives between 3000-4000 new followers per day on Twitter. Friday he received 23,926 followers, Saturday he received 93,045 followers and Sunday he received 25,432 followers.
There has been a lot of discussion as to whether the Romney camp paid a Twitter following agency, and if those followers are fake. In fact Vincent Harris, who was a digital advisor to former Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, rang out on Twitter in defense of Mitt Romney’s digital director Zac Moffat. Harris and the Gingrich camp were also accused of buying fake followers for their candidate.
I speak on social media and Twitter quite a bit and have used Twitter virtually since the beginning. I use a tool called Tweepi to maintain the health of both of our key Twitter accounts, my personal account and the account for Nibletz. So when this story started to break I went myself and checked out Romney’s newest followers and here’s what we’ve found.
First off over 40,000 of Romney’s new followers have yet to change their Twitter icon from the cute little egg you get when you first join Twitter. This is usually a good indicator that someone has a lot of fake Twitter followers.
The next big indicator is that over 25,000 of the new followers have 0 followers themselves. Again this is a sharp indicator that the Twitter followers are fake. Now in the interest of transparency many of the new Twitter followers Romney has that have 1 or zero followers themselves are the same ones that haven’t changed their profile pic.
Of course the final big indicator is the fact that 30,000 of the new Twitter followers Romney has have tweeted zero times or have tweeted just one time.
Another big indicator for fake Twitter followers is that many of these new followers have never updated their biography in their profile as well.
Their are several ways to buy followers. There are sites that sell followers with similar stats to these. They use bots and other methods to set up Twitter accounts very quickly and then sell a bulk follow, typically automated at one time.
It would take hours and hours to check President Obama’s Twitter followers but the first 500 pages of 200 Twitter followers on a page of the account @barackobama, the newest followers look like this:
These newest followers of Obama’s look to be a much healthier set of Twitter followers.
There would really be no benefit to fudging followers in a political campaign unless Romney’s camp is just looking to cross the million follower count. Currently President Obama has over 17 million followers while Romney is hovering at 800,000 followers.
President Obama was the first candidate to really embrace social media ahead of the 2008 election. He has seen a surge recently in new followers as the race gets down to the final months.