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Published on June 8th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson

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A New Survey Suggests That Up To 46% Of Twitter Followers Are Bots





Well, color me surprised (not much actually) but a new study by Marco Camisani Calzolari, professor of corporate communications and digital languages at Milan’s IULM University says don’t count on all those followers turning out to be real people. In fact you’d be lucky if more than half are real people with the large percentage of them being either outright fake accounts or just your regular run-of-the-mill bots.

Calzolari came to these conclusions after analyzing the Twitter networks of 39 major consumer brands that included: Samsung, Pepsi, Wholefoods, Starbucks, and Blackberry only to find that in the case of a company like Dell – @DellOutlet – over 46 percent of their 1.5 million followers were non-human.

However Dell wasn’t alone as both Wholefoods and Jetblue, as well as international companies like IKEA and Vodafone Italia, had exceptionally high percentages of non-human followers. The company that scored the best with just 6.88 percent of its follower being represented by bots was Starbucks.

“The research shows that the number of followers is no longer a valid indicator of the popularity of a Twitter user,” said Professor Calzolari. “Many of the companies included in the research have delegated their public relations activities on social networks to web agencies that in some cases have taken short cuts in order to demonstrate to companies, who are oblivious, that their activities have been successful by generating lots of new users.”

via All Twitter

The short of this is that no matter how fantastic your Twitter follower numbers are (and chances are this applies to other social networks as well) the reality is that a growing number of them are probably bots and spam accounts.

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About the Author

Steven has been around the tech world long enough to see most of the stuff we think of cool happen before which leads to a certain bit of cynicism that has contributed to him being known as the cranky old fart of the Internet. Besides sharing some of the goodness that he finds with you here at 42x you can also find him curating some digital goodness at Winextra (tech type stuff) and Rotten Gumdrops (for your daily dose of WTF).



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