Twitter’s Hacks & Fakes

My Twitterstream was abuzz these last few days over this little app that could discern what percentage of one’s Twitter followers were Fake, Inactive or Good. BusinessInsider’s Kevin Smith took a look at “how many fake followers the most popular people on Twitter have.” Here’s his topline analysis:

76% of Bieber’s Twitter followers Are Fake or Inactive

Seventy percent of Lady Gaga‘s 28.4 million followers are fake (47%) or inactive (23%). Rhianna, with 23 million followers, fared worse with 84% of her followers either fake or inactive. Of Ashton Kutcher’s 11.9 million followers, 79% were fake or inactive, while 69% of Kim Kardashian’s 15.8 million registered as either fake or inactive. More than three-quarters (76%) of Justin Bieber’s 26.7 million were found to be fake (38%) or inactive (38%).

But Kevin didn’t stop at these socially driven pop stars. He also took the tool to the tech set to learn that 15% of Twitter co-founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey’s 2 million+ followers were fake and 45% inactive. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s fared a tad worse with a quarter (24%) of his 993K followers found to be fake and 48% inactive. Only 15% of Twitter’s other co-founder Evan Williams’ 1.5 million+ followers were fake, and 37% inactive.

The size of one’s following has been an obsession of the social media cognoscenti almost as long as the Twitterstream’s been flowing. A large disparity between your number of followers and those you follow purportedly speaks to your Klout. (Either that, or you’re one stingy bastard.)

Klout, btw, just revamped its algorithm that ranks social media influence. My score is now 61 and I’m supposedly “influential” on “Islam,” “Gay Marriage,” and “Mitt Romney,” which makes me think that Klout has considerably more work to do on its algorithm.

Wired’s Mat Honan Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

Recently, I noticed that Wired senior writer @mat aka Possibly Mat Honan proclaimed that he was jettisoning all those he follows on Twitter and would start anew. I thought it was a PR stunt, and in fact some of those with whom he soon re-upped actually tweeted their thanks for his renewed “follow.” I soon learned however that Mat’s Twitter account had been “epicly” breached. His digital life was erased and Twitter feed used to spew unsavory tweets to his 15,000 (now 18,000) followers.

Here’s a Pro Publica interview with him on the incident, and his personal recount (excuse the pun) in Wired. Mat also will talk about it today (Friday) at 1pm ET live on Wired’s Google+ page.

Anyway, back to the premise of this piece, which started to look at the quality of one’s followers as measured by this new tool that separates the fake from the inactive from the good and serves as a reasonable indicator of whether one has actually earned his or her following, as opposed to paying for them through one of those bot-delivery services.

My interest in this also was sparked by a newly-noted follower from New York City. This man billed himself as “a Social Media Expert helping consultants increase their social media presence and credibility so they can convert more clients.” I had never heard of him nor did I recognize any of his followers. I ran the tool. As expected, 84% of his nearly 5000 followers were fake.

For a little fun, I used Listorious and my own list of those I follow to build a random list of influential PR tweeps. Here’s how they fared.

A Selection of PR Influencers Ranked by Their Percentage of “Good” Twitter Followers

  • Steve Farnsworth (@steveology)- 70,000 followers 95% 
  • Christine Perkett (@perkettpr) — 44,000 followers 94% 
  • Joan Stewart (@publicityhound) – 24,000 followers 94% 
  • Matt Dickman (@mattdickman) – 17,200 followers 93% 
  • Kellye Crane (@kellyecrane) – 13,200 followers 92% 
  • John Bell (@jbell99) – 10,800 followers 90% 
  • Jeff Domansky (@theprcoach) – 8,000 followers 90% 
  • Shel Holtz (@shelholtz) – 14,100 followers 89% 
  • Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) – 18,000 followers 88% 
  • Joe Thornley (@thornley) – 7,300 followers 88%
  • Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) – 25,000 followers 87% 
  • Stephanie Agresta (Stephagresta) – 19,700 followers 87% 
  • Shonali Burke (@shonali) – 14,000 followers 87% 
  • Rachel Kay (@rachelakay) – 12,200 followers 87% 
  • Kami Huyse (@kamichat) – 9,500 followers 87% 
  • Kevin Dugan (@prblog) – 24,000 followers 84% 
  • Bill Stoller (@PublicityGuru) – 167,000 followers 83% 
  • Jeremy Pepper (@jspepper) – 13,000 followers 83% 
  • Todd Defren (@tdefren) – 21,800 followers 82% 
  • Richard Binhammer (@RichardatDell) – 13,000 followers 82% 
  • Richard Laermer (@laermer) – 12,500 followers 81% 
  • Doug Haslam (@dough) – 28,000 followers 80% 
  • Rohit Bhargava (@rohitbhargava) – 24,600 followers 79% 
  • Mark Ragan (@markragan) – 53,000 followers 78% 
  • Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) – 80,100 followers 76% 
  • Brian Solis (@BrianSolis) – 152,000 followers 73% 
  • Steve Rubel (@SteveRubel) – 68,000 followers 70% 
  • David Armano (@armano) – 51,000 followers 68% 
  • Brooke Hammerling (@brooke) – 18,000 followers 66% 
  • Sarah Evans (@prsarahevans) – 83,000 followers 65% 
  • Andrew Bloch (@andrewbloch) – 23,000 followers 40% 
  • Brandee Barker (@brandee) – 29,000 followers 38% 
  • Sean Garrett (@SG) – 21,000 followers 36% 

I’m sure there are many PR pros on Twitter I missed here, so please forgive. As for me, I’m happy to report that 86% of my 5900 followers are rated “good.” (Now if I can only monetize this.)