by Thippana Vamsi on Sun 29 March 2015

Social media has become an important part of the Web and the way we communicate with each other. Twitter is one of the successful social media platforms that has 271 million active users and gets 500 million tweets per day. Along with success of Twitter, there is growth in spam. Spammers on Twitter try to reach active users resulting in negatively impacting other genuine Twitter users.

There is a very fine line between tweeting to promote your service and appearing as spam account. Small or medium business owners using Twitter generally get tempted to use every opportunity to drive traffic to their website by Tweeting links to their website. That includes tweeting about their business using trending hashtag on Twitter. Many Twitter users are already aware of these tactics followed by businesses and they easily ignore such tweets. In this blog post Ill write about some features that spam accounts on Twitter generally exhibit.

Low popularity score:

Popularity is defined as ratio between friends and follower counts (popularity = followers / friends). So if popularity count is close to zero it means the user is following more accounts compared to its own followers count. Spam accounts tend to aggressively follow more people in the hope to build up its own follower base.

Duplicate content:

Spam accounts on Twitter post same content many times by changing only a small portion of the tweet. For example they target to send out same content to many users by including different @usernames in their duplicate tweets.

URLs in tweets:

Probability that viewer of tweet clicks on link mentioned in it increases if the viewer is following the author of the tweet. Spammers target their followers by posting links to malicious websites in most of their tweets. URL shortener services hide the target URL so spam accounts tend to use such services to post links to their websites.

Hashjacking trending topics:

Spam accounts try to lure legitimate users to read their tweets by posting multiple unrelated tweets using trending hashtags. These accounts hope to reach more viewers quickly, so they include trending and popular hashtags in their tweets.

High tweet activity:

Spam accounts post high number of tweets every day. More than 50 tweets every day is considered as high activity since it means a user has to tweet at-least once in half an hour throughout the day. Some accounts on Twitter go to extent of posting thousands of tweets every day. Following screenshot of our Spotlyte analytics view shows tweet activity of a twitter account.

Spam User Tweet Activity

Advice for Small and Medium business owners on Twitter:

Social media enabled businesses to reach to their potential loyal customers by following best practices. Twitter enables entrepreneurs to reach new customers in real time. By following best practices and not falling prey to temptation to follow practices that are followed by spam accounts will surely help businesses to grow and reap maximum benefits out of it.

Another article from Symantec describing spam operation on Twitter is here. What is your experience with spam activity on Twitter? I would love to see your comments below on how you deal with any spam content you notice on Twitter.

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