12 Most Smart Ways Not to Engage in Twitter Spam

12 Most Smart Ways Not to Engage in Twitter Spam

Have you noticed a huge influx of Twitter spam lately? You should. It’s impossible to escape (unless you quit Twitter altogether). Even if you’re not a tweeter, no doubt you’ve been hit up by spammers on Facebook, Pinterest, and even email.

Well, the focus of this particular article is Twitter DM spam, but I’ll throw you a bone regarding email as well.

First off, let’s discuss exactly what I mean.

1. Auto DMs

What are auto DMs (direct messages) anyway? I’m often shocked when people ask me this until I explain what they are. You know those generic messages that say “Thanks for the follow. Here’s my Facebook, site, Pinterest, and blah-blah link,” and you’re thinking, “yeah, right. I’ll get right on that.”

There are really two types of auto DMs: those with links and those without. That’s what I’m talking about. Without a link is the less spammier alternative, but it’s still an annoying waste of time.

2. Competition

Why do people engage in such foolishness in the first place? Lots of reasons, but the main one being that we are, by nature, competitive. If I have more followers, I must be “better” or more “likeable,” which we all know is ridiculous… but whatever. The fact remains that when we flash on someone’s profile for three seconds, the more followers they have, we instinctively feel that person has been vetted by others (come on, you know you do it, too).

It’s when this sense of competition gets out of hand that people start falling into the trap of paying for what should happen organically.

3. Metadata

From a purely metadata perspective, the more followers someone has, the greater their social media footprint, right? Wrong. Why? See #4.

4. Google Page Rank

According to the latest changes in their algorithm, Google has now decided to count RTs (retweets) and shares as having more weight than someone’s following. So it’s not quantity, it’s quality. We all know this, but it doesn’t make us want to have less followers… or does it?

5. Fiverr

This rise in raising our social media footprint has created a HUGE market for sites like Fiverr, where people promise any number of followers delivered within say, a day, for $5. A deal, right? Wrong. I wanted to try it out to see what the whole thing was about and to be more informed about the process, and here’s what happened: the few hundred I bought (and have since deleted), were all eggs, fake accounts, or never-tweeteds.

Is this helpful to your business or sales? No. None of those “followers” were my target audience of readers and book buyers, or in need of social media consulting. Was it a total waste? No. I learned about the process and that it sucks.

6. Hacked accounts

I’m always slightly shocked at the folks who don’t know their account has been hacked. How can they not know? (I realize not everyone is as obsessed with social as I am, but come on.) To defend against this happening to you, choose a password that contains at least one capital letter, one lowercase letter, one symbol, and several numbers. Don’t forget the Alzheimer’s medicine to help you remember it. Also, choose the https:// option. It’s a safer choice.

7. Targeted followers

The best way I’ve found to create a robust, interactive following is to search out keywords that fit my genre and profile, and search on those terms. How? Twitter has an advanced search function. Try that. Follow people others have followed. Check lists. I don’t suggest following more than 100-200 people/day or you make the Twitter gods twitchy.

8. ManageFlitter (pro)

By far the best application I’ve found to follow and unfollow people. Their free version is limited, and because I manage several client accounts, I upgraded to the Pro version. (Some people prefer TwitCleaner). But what it does is it points out the non-followbacks, eggs, never-tweeteds, inactives, and fakes. Gone, buh-bye. And what’s great is their Fast Select button — it’s like a video game. Highlight, delete, win. I used to use it weekly; now I do it daily for my accounts and my clients.

You can also Search for tweeps to follow using your targeted keywords. So for example, for my @RachelintheOC account, I’ll use the search term sarcasm, relationships, men, women, love, etc. Easy. And I can immediately go back to the Unfollow tab to see if any of these follows are inactive, eggs, never-tweeteds, or fake.

9. InBox Cleaner

Say you’ve done all of the above, but still have a DM inbox full of spammy, hacked crap. Sign up for Inbox Cleaner (the first 24 hours are free to give you a feel for it). It’s awesome. Mostly I ignore my DM inbox at this point, but don’t write it off completely. I’ve made some of my best contacts via DM. So clear out your inbox using terms like: Facebook, hey, video, amazon, book… you get the picture.

Here’s your bone: InBox Cleaner works for your email inbox and blog also, although I find Gmail and WordPress do a decent job of handling spam overall.

10. @OptMeOut

One of Twitter’s worst kept secrets. Created by SocialOomph (a scheduling app), anyone can follow OptMeOut to remove their handle from receiving DM spam. Simply follow them, wait a moment for them to follow you back, DM them any word you want, and then unfollow them. They claim to have “millions of users” and they probably do. Now you just have to read less of their annoying spam.

11. Content

It seems to me that most of these types of spammers are basically cheating. But so what? That’s human nature: if we can reach some imagined goal slowly and organically, why not do it faster and with help? So what.

If I read another social media “expert” who tells us to “share good content,” I might have to throw up in my mouth. Do I need to read that to know that… really?

Apparently some people do.

The problem with spamming practices is it doesn’t create more people purchasing your wares or services, and it won’t increase your social media footprint because fake followers don’t RT (don’t get me started on buying fake RTs from Fiverr, either).

Note: A new study released by Twitter shows that up to 40% of Twitter account owners never tweet. They’re on it just to read and catch up with their favorite tweeps or check breaking news. Hmmm….

Platform: Remember, Twitter is but one small part of your overall platform. We all need to make money, and social media is a terrific way to create buzz. I honestly feel sad for people who constantly spam me to buy their book or service because I’m not their target audience, they’re pissing me off, and they’re showing their cluelessness.

12. Final Tip

Don’t use TrueTwit validation. A bot to check and see if I’m a bot? Just, no honey.

Don’t be clueless. Don’t engage in spam yourself. You have no excuse now that you’ve read this article.

Create and share great content (go ahead, you may throw up now).

Featured image courtesy of Ben Mortimer Photography licensed via Creative Commons.

I’ll be watching.

Rachel Thompson


Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of #MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat and an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

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Enjoyed the entire post. Yes, I have an Auto-DM...to tell people I look forward to engaging with them in the public stream. No link.

Still plan on trying ManageFlitter once I'm done with TweetSpinner in March.

Can't stand TrueTwit validation. Ticks me off every time. Same goes for Hacked Accounts w/no apology.

Jonathan Gunson
Jonathan Gunson

Rachel.  The central tenet I teach all my author clients is NEVER shout out your book title on Twitter. At best it will be ignored. At worst you'll be unfollowed.  People are on Twitter to be entertained, to be informed and to chat, not be 'pitched' by amateur author hucksters!Instead if you want to get attention, engage, chat - make a real connection, and bring people back to your blog. Even on your blog you still don't ever 'pitch', but run extraordinarily interesting stuff for your specific genre audience.   The books can be mentioned, but they are not the focus. Readers will find them soon enough.  Once those people actually read your book, if it's any good, the power of word of mouth recommendation will do the restTake a wild guess: How many authors do you think listen to this advice, and then carry right on spamming their titles? (Sadly about 80%)  This may surprise you: One thing I do use is a Twitter auto-DM that gives away my free bestseller guide for authors, but it is always accompanied with personal chat via DM as well.  I never receive a single objection, and virtually all who read the DM download the free book with effusive thanks.  But I agree completely with avoiding spamming fiction book titles on DM. That is just a waste of time, the same as spamming a title in Tweets.Jonathan

Heather Frey
Heather Frey

Fabulous post! Honestly, not a fan of buying followers ie, trying to buy influence. . One week, they have a few thousand followers and a month later they have 50,000. hmmm... I use Tweetdeck (works for me) and it tells you how many times the person has been listed. That' is my indicator of whether someone is buying followers. You don't have 50k followers and are only listed 127 times.

Thanks so much for the great info!Thanks so much for the great info!


I'm just now getting on Twitter. (I know. I know) I have been shocked to see how many of the Tweets are nothing but "Buy my book... " over and over every day. I mean if I didn't buy your book the first thirty times you tweeted it to my attention do you honestly think the thirty-first time is going to be the magical number? Ugh.

Great information here. Thanks.


Can you tell I'd had seventy-eight tequilas -- I mean was typing from the iPhone? Good Lord. Glad I'm not trying to make a LIVING at this writing thing. : |


#12. AMEN sistah! Excellent post.


Okay, so I thought I had the Twitter thing under control, right? WRONG! This is a must-read, Rachel, as usual! I never fail to learn new things from one of your SM posts. I've already followed @OptMeOut!Martha


Excellent post, as usual Rachel,  thanks for putting everything in one concise list, 



Outstanding article and a MUST READ for those who use Twitter )especially prolifically). Well-done, wenll-said, Rachel.

Sharon Greenthal
Sharon Greenthal

Having recently been hacked I can attest to the huge irritation and discomfort it caused me. Many of my followers let me know I'd been hacked, which was very helpful, and in return I messaged everyone of them to let them know that I was not sending them the really awful message they received. Hours of work.