All right, I know I suck at updating this blog but I’ve been working hard on Tweet-o-matic. I’ve still got loads and loads to do before I can release a beta, but here are at least two teasers:
So what do you think? Does it look like something that could be useful to you?
If you’ve been on Twitter for a while you’ve probably received the following spam-esque auto-direct message:
Want to know how to get 16,000 Followers in 90 days, and make money doing it? http://urlshortener.com/random-gibberish
— Random douchebag
If you follow the provided link you’ll end up at The Twitter Traffic Machine (my affiliate link – sponsor me with a cup of coffee if you’re going to get it anyway) which is an info product by @BillCrosby and some random dude about getting a lot of followers. After watching their video I just started asking myself why I didn’t do what they’re doing – If they can do it, so can I.
How I did it
Since I’m a pretty awesome programmer and since I’ve been keen on playing around with the Twitter API for a while I decided to hack something up myself rather than buy their product. So about 20 days ago I started to play around with the Twitter API to see what I could come up with.
After playing around with it for a day I managed to implement functionality to copy the followers from a specific user and follow these users, copy followers from search results and unfollow all those who didn’t reciprocate my follow. These functions are the core functions I use to improve my follower count.
What I usually do is to go to the article ‘Top 237 Twitter Users Who Will Follow You Back‘, find a user with similar interests and a lot of followers and copy his or hers followers. I’ll wait a few hours or even a day and then I unfollow all people who didn’t reciprocate my follow. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.
The whole process actually started out kinda slow, adding about 10-30 followers per day. Then it climbed to a few hundred followers, and now recently I’ve had days where I could get like 1,000-2,000 new followers per day. See my awesome chart at TwitterCounter for more details.
Providing value (on auto-pilot)
Another crucial ingredient in the secret sauce is the auto-posting of tweets. If you follow me you’ll probably see that there will be posts from my account each and every hour (that is, as long as my app is running).
So what’s going on? I’ve programmed my little nifty app to fetch rss-feeds (pretty much like twitterfeed.com) and automatically post these items at certain times (usually every 15 or 30 minutes). I usually get my feeds from http://delicious.com/popular/insert-tag-here (for example: http://delicious.com/popular/seo) and my app will create a tweet using the title of the feed item (shortens it if necessary), a url shortened version of the feed item url and hash tags if available.
It also supports quotes and stuff – we all love those right? I also use Google Blog Search for other accounts I’m playing around with where there usually aren’t a lot of relevant information available via delicious.
And oh, if you’ve been following my account for a while I guess you occasionally have seen that I’ve posted the same piece of information twice (or even thrice) sometimes. My app keeps track of what it already has posted, but from time to time (I’m still experimenting and developing this Twitter app you know) I have to re-initialize my database and the posting history will be erased. The version of the app I’ll release (more on this later in this post) will accurately keep track of what’s been posted and not post duplicate content.
Why having a lot of followers is a good thing
Even though this might be obvious to some, I didn’t realize this until I did this little experiment. I’ve actually been a member of Twitter since the 12th of December 2007. From that point to the 24th of March this year I’ve had a maximum of 50-60 followers. I didn’t really care about Twitter then and if it wasn’t for all the hype about Twitter right now – I still wouldn’t care about Twitter.
Back then I could look at accounts with heaps and heaps of followers and wonder what the point with that was. How would they be able to interact with all those thousands of followers? But you know what, it’s way better to interact with someone rather than no one. Having a maximum of 50 followers didn’t lead to a lot of conversations, neither did it enable me to find interesting and valuable information other people would tweet about.
Since I started experimenting with this I’ve actually gotten a job offer via Twitter and I’ve also come in contact with a lot of interesting people whom, if they haven’t proven to be already, will prove to be beneficial to me in some point in time. Twitter’s a really fun tool for me right now (read: addictive) and it’s all because I decided to extend my network.
Before you start – I know what I’ve been doing is a semi-relatively bad thing to do. There are a lot of sincere people on Twitter that want to build their network organically and who are really into building long-lasting relationships with their followers – and here I am auto-following and auto-unfollowing people from left to right just to make a point.
I really do try to engage people on Twitter (I’m actually a really nice guy) but sometimes it’s just hard to keep track of everything when you get like 100-200 new tweets every 5 seconds.
I initially also thought that auto-posting links and quotes was a bad thing to do because I didn’t do it “myself”. But if you look at it from a different perspective, I’m actually providing lots of value to people. According to Retweetrank and Retweetist a lot of people actually appreciate the content.
Tweet-o-matic – reproduce my results
Despite my little ethics rant above, I’m actually going to release my twitter app so that other people can reproduce my results. I feel that a lot of people could find this tool valuable and that it would enable them to establish a great network on Twitter.
Unfortunately, I can’t say when it’s going to be released (I have to rewrite the backend, build the web gui etc. – and I’ve already got loads of stuff to do) but what I can say is that it’s going to be released using a software-as-a-service freemium model. If that’s total mumbo-jumbo to you, it means that there will be one free basic version (with a limited feature set) and several versions that you have to pay for to use (the more you pay – the more features you’ll have access to).
I’ll be posting my progress with Tweet-o-matic here on my blog, so be sure to subscribe to my rss-feed if you’re interested in this app.
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