How to Become an Internet Millionaire by Spamming Twitter

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On twitter the other day, EveD asked,

“Can someone explain to me how Twitter spam works?”

To which I replied, half-mockingly,

“twitter spam business plan has 3 phases. – step 1: Follow tweeple;step2:??;step3: PROFIT!”

(reference: Underpants Gnomes)

The most important part of that plan of course, lies hidden behind the dual question marks in Phase 2.

Like all spam techniques, twam (twitter spam) is a numbers game. Much like the early days of MySpace spam, automated bot-users reach out to clusters of users, following and getting some non-zero percentage of return follows. Bear in mind, the number of return follows on a single bot-user may be low, but a single spammer would likely have thousands of bots out in the twitosphere. The ultimate aim of course is to build up an audience.

While current estimates put the number of twitter users at somewhere below 2.5 million (does anyone know the real figure?), assuming positive growth rates going forward (i.e. assuming twitter spam does not kill the golden goose) it is conceivable that unchecked, an individual spammer may be able to secure an audience of a good many thousands.

But how does one make money off such an audience? Well, there are many ways to rob this particular cat of its skin. One of the most popular is no doubt affiliate campaigns.

Let’s take a hypothetical situation by way of example. The iPhone buzz, which has been picking up pace locally recently, provides such an opportunity.

Twittyspambot009 and x number of clones, might tweet something like,

Lost my iphone on the train this morning, Totally gutted! I loved that phone

>> Cue general feelings of sympathy among whichever portion of the audience happens to take note of the tweet.

Then, some days later, preferably after a number of random, unrelated tweets. Our “friend” twittyspambot009 (and x number of clones) tweets again,

Just found out my new iPhone is on its way. Got it free off this awesome site (insert link to a site like one of these)”

I thought it was a load of bs at first to be honest, but to my pleasant surprise it seems to be legit .Will tweet again once I get it

Then, some more days later,

Got the new iPhone today. Delivered as expected. Very impressed with these guys (insert link again)”

Of course, the site being linked is the spammer’s very own affiliate commission site and he has just managed to attract a few income generating leads.

Rates of response and the effectiveness of the campaign is ultimately dependant on how convincing the spambot can be as a legitimate user – relatively regular tweets, and not all of them directly trying to plug something.

Going back to the initial part of the spammer’s campaign, return-follow rates will be affected by the specifics of the smap-bot user profile – e.g. does the name sound realistic? what does the image look like? (unsurprisingly, attractive female avatars are more likely to be followed by younger male users)

Going forward, more sophisticated spammers would be looking for system vulnerabilities that allow them to get a greater number of followers, in fact, it appears some have already succeeded.

So there you have it.

Wondering how to make money off of twitter?

“Follow” the simple 3 phase plan.

(Recent developments suggest all of this has not gone unnoticed at twitter HQ. Who knows, perhaps it will influence the development of an effective twitter business model in some way.)

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