12 Surprising B2B Marketing Spammers on Twitter

Twitter Favorite SpamCollecting followers is so last decade. It is easy to make arguments against simply trying to build up your following count and the tactics that are often used:

  • Purchased followers aren’t real. Fake follower sites can reportedly tell if you followers are real or fakes and fakes are a sign that you have been buying followers.
  • Mass following is frowned on by Twitter and if carefully managed, your follower ratio eventually makes you look like a spammer.
  • A smaller group of followers genuinely interested in you and paying attention to what you share is far powerful.

But what if there was a way to get more followers without paying to promote your account through Twitter, hurting your follower ratio or filling your stream with an excessive number of tweets?

Apparently, then its different. Practice what you preach, until you find a way to practice in secret. Or at least that’s the approach of these B2B marketers.

Update: 8 of the 12 accounts listed here stopped favoriting tweets aggressively at about the same time yesterday. Given the timing, it is likely Twitter cutoff one or more providers of this service. I’ve reached out to Twitter for comment and will update the post with any information I receive back.

Twitter Favorite Spam

So how do you get followers without any negative consequences? It’s simple. Just start favoriting Tweets. Every time you favorite a Tweet, it shows up in someone’s interaction stream, but it isn’t immediately visible in your account.

Repeatedly favoriting Tweets from an individual over time is enough to get them to notice your account and follow you, or so the spammer’s theory goes. And because individual Tweets are favorited, it is natural to favorite multiple Tweets from the same account.

But as you can see below, it can end up reflecting poorly on you in multiple ways.

The Dirty Dozen: Twitter’s B2B Marketing Spammers

Here are a dozen of the B2B marketing accounts I identified using Twitter favorites as a spam tactic to increase followers. Many of these accounts were identified by simply reviewing recent favorites of my tweets. My colleague Tom Bacon also contributed a number of examples.

Accounts are listed from lowest to highest favorite frequency along with their Twitter bio. In some cases I’ve included screenshots of favorites to make some of the implications of favorite spam easier to see.

Clients of the marketers are also included in some cases to help show these at least appear to be legitimate and serious businesses. With one possible exception (#5), they do not fit the profile of a stereotypical spammer.

12. @Reachforce. 117 favorites per day.
Improve demand generation, speed leads to revenue with data quality and enrichment solutions for B2B marketing, integrated with Eloqua, Marketo & Salesforce.

Reachforce was the first B2B marketer I noticed using favorite spam and I’m clearly a target for their program. Here is a screenshot showing 11 favorites of Tweets that include my account in just 5 hours, mostly Tweets of the same piece of content.

Twitter Favorite Spam Reachforce 11

Reachforce does not look like your typical spamming, fly-by-night operation. Their website lists Marketo, Webtrends, Citrix and Rackspace as clients.

11. @60dayMBA. 139 favorites per day.
Yes, you can start your own business. Online training by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.

@60dayMBA’s account provides a great example of what you see in the favorites of accounts using favorite spam: repeated favorites of similar and apparently low-quality tweets, likely triggered just by keyword searches.

Twitter Favorite Spam 60dayMBA

10. @YeslerB2B. 166 favorites per day.
Yesler is a B2B marketing agency from @Projectline that helps technology companies deliver predictable revenues, sustainable growth, and measurable results.

I was surprised to find an agency using this spam tactic, let alone an agency that lists a number of big names in technology on their website, including SAP, Microsoft, EMC, Intel and T-Mobile.

Like most companies using favorite spam, a quick scroll through the favorites makes it clear a person isn’t behind the system. Here are two back-to-back Tweets that were favorited, the images had to be clipped just to keep the article family friendly.

Twitter Favorite Spam YeslerB2B

It is worth noting that Yesler stopped their program since the first round of data was gathered, but the favorites are still visible on their profile.

9. @lattice_engines. 174 favorites per day.
Lattice delivers data-driven business applications that help companies market and sell more intelligently. Managed by @AmandaMaks.

Lattice Engines has become a recognized name in B2B marketing circles and works with a number of big names in B2B marketing, including Dell, NetApp, Kronos, CA, Adobe, Bank of America and more.

I noticed Lattice Engines’ behavior a few weeks ago when they favorited at least 6 different tweets linking to a single post of mine. Each one pushed a notification to my stream and to my phone. That experience made it clear just how much this behavior can hurt perception among the very people you are targeting.

8. @volumeint. 183 favorites per day.
Big data analytics company. The size of your data is less important than the answers found.

7. @poptip. 201 favorites per day.
Many voices. Clear direction.

The headline on the Poptip website is “understand social conversation & act faster,” which says a little bit more than the Twitter bio. Their client list includes NBA, NFL, ESPN, Budweiser and ESPN.

6. @unitaglive. 215 favorites per day.
Mobile Web & #QRCode – Connect to the world.

Unitag gives businesses a way to customize QR codes with your own embedded branding and design elements. Their client list includes Spotify, Michelin and global agencies Havas and Publicis.

5. @Buzzforksocial. 339 favorites per day (or a favorite every 4 minutes and 15 seconds, 24 hours a day).
@BuzzFork generates leads, customers and social engagement for brands, agencies and individuals on @Twitter and Vine.

It appears that Buzzfork is using their own software on their account. Credit for eating your own dogfood at least, although their FAQ just flags what their software doesn’t do (Tweet from your account or follow users).

4. @inferfocus. 370 favorites per day.
We Help You Make Sense of a Changing World | Identification of opportunities and risks before they are well recognized

3. @contenthackers. 587 favorites per day (that’s less than 2.5 minutes between favorites on average, all day long).
The Content Marketing Update is a weekly email with the latest in content marketing news and articles.

The account is linked to a content marketing initiative from the makers of CoSchedule, an application for editorial calendaring.

2. @cooperatize. 603 favorites per day.
Content marketing platform for brands | We specialize in native advertising and content creation | PR 2.0 Meetup Organizer in NYC | #PR #contentmarketing

Another provider in the content marketing space turning to favorite spam to gain followers.

1. @priceintel. Another favorite every minute and 50 seconds, 24 hours a day (that’s 785 per day)
We’re a #tech company in #Boston focused on #pricing. Our goal is to help companies stop guessing about prices and leaving revenue on the table.

Clients include Wistia, Litmus and Compete.

Takeaway

Favorite spam is surprisingly prevalent, despite the fact that it is far more obnoxious to the targets than churning followers or even excessive engagement.

This list only includes companies or organizations that appear to be marketing to professionals. However, in the course of reviewing favorites on my personal account, I quickly found numerous other examples, including a very active social media professional with more than 100,000 followers and multiple CEO’s or company founders, using the same approach.

Your Turn

I was surprised by many of the examples I found, but how do you feel about it? Is this appropriate in the wild west of social media? Let me know what you think of companies that use favorite spam on Twitter in the comments below, or on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: epSos.de via Flickr cc

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About Eric Wittlake

I am a digital and B2B marketer with a background in online media and analytics. I work with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs at Babcock & Jenkins. You can connect with me on Twitter at @wittlake or in the comments here on my B2B Digital Marketing blog.

  • douglasburdett

    Dang, and just when I thought Lattice Engines really, really liked me! But then I noticed they don’t even follow me. Oh well.

    • ShellyKramer

      Hahaha!

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      LOL. Thanks for sharing, it’s a good example of how favorite spam works by misleading users. I used to appreciate favorites as well. Now my first instinct is to question if they are from a person or an algorithm.

  • Dara Schulenberg

    Me too Doug. Any insight as to if they are all connected? I believe my case began with my agency’s testing of Coopertize.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Dara, it is definitely something that seems to be ramping up, so any apparent connection might just be timing. According to the websites of a couple companies that offer this as a way to build your audience, keywords are a common way to target.

      Keyword targeting was particularly apparent on @contenthackers. More than 50% of their favorites including the hashtag #contentmarketing.

    • douglasburdett

      Not sure – I may have been added to their “favorite” workflow after I tweeted something Amanda said during a HubSpot webinar. But frankly, as the youngest of four children, I was just grateful for the attention.

  • http://www.lattice-engines.com/ Amanda Maksymiw (@amandamaks)

    Thanks for keeping us honest, Eric, although you shouldn’t have to. We were experimenting with a tool (that got out of control) and we have since disabled it.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Amanda, thanks for the quick response, I appreciate it!

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  • http://www.knowledge-bank.co.uk KnowledgeBank

    A big question is whether this is technically spam. I have had a few conversations about Twitter over the years and what constitutes spam. The following have all been mentioned at some point:-

    Auto refollowing
    Auto DM’s post follow
    Sending mass DM’s
    Following lots of people
    Favouriting tweets
    @replying to random people
    @mentioning lots of people
    Hashtag hijacking
    Using trending terms in appropriately
    #FollowFriday and it’s sisters

    Would it be fair to say that actually most if not all unsolicited Twitter interactions are inherently spammy, but because it is a non-reciprocal platform, (entirely opt-in) that actually nothing on Twitter can constitute spam?

    Surely Twitter ads and sponsored posts are spam too?

    Discuss…

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      According to Twitter: “Randomly or aggressively favoriting Tweets through automation in an attempt to bring attention to an account, service or link” is spam.

      I definitely believe spam can exist on Twitter. If the non-reciprocal nature of Twitter means nothing can be called spam, then all email is appropriate as well.

      That said, there are different expectations with an open platform, I appreciate that. I could tweet a question to you, looking for your answer or opinion. That isn’t spam, but it is promotional in some ways and could be seen as an intrusion.

      Alternatively, I could use software to create a list of 20,000 people that are likely in B2B marketing and tweet a link to a survey to all of them, hoping some will respond.

      IMO, most would say the first isn’t a good way to initially engage someone, but if you are only reaching out to a couple people, they wouldn’t label you a spammer for it. Most people would call the second case spam.

      Good question, thanks for starting the thread!

  • Henley Wing

    I hate Favorite Spam. Thanks for disclosing all these companies, Eric, it just seems like a very spammy way to engage with people. I hope Twitter does something in the future to penalize this behavior.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Henley, I think they just might have. Although I haven’t heard back from Twitter (no surprise, it’s a busy and exciting day there I’m sure), I’m guessing Twitter has cut off one or more of the applications people were using. As of earlier today, it looks like 2/3rds of the programs had been cut off, all at the same time.

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  • http://www.velocitypartners.co.uk/our-blog/ Doug Kessler

    I often use favorite to say thanks to someone instead of a public @ message.
    Am I risking being seen as a spammer? My volumes will never be more than ten a day (maybe 15 if people have been really nice that day).

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      No. If I share your post or say something nice about B2B agencies in London, and you fave my tweet, it is pretty clear why.

      In contrast, look at the screengrab under Reachforce: favoriting tweets of my post shared by different people 10 times in 5 hours.

      And thanks for sharing the post on Twitter. Just marked your Tweet as a fave. I trust it didn’t feel like spam. :)

      • http://www.velocitypartners.co.uk/our-blog/ Doug Kessler

        Whew. It’s amazing how quickly and cleverly people will game any system.

  • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

    Crazy spammers!

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Crazy for sure to think no one would mind!

  • Katherine Kotaw

    Great article, Eric. I didn’t know about this type of spamming, but it’s sadly not surprising. I’m radical enough to think that all social media tools should be banned, but cracking down on spammers is a start.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      That is a radical idea, and one I haven’t heard before. Even personally I appreciate tools that provide features beyond what the standard interfaces support. That said, if it all but eliminated the spam, I think I would support it. Thanks for sharing your view!

  • http://www.diannahuff.com/ Dianna Huff

    Eric, Thank you for explaining why people do this. I couldn’t figure out why people were favoriting my tweets — and thought it had to do with one’s profile. If I click on your profile, I can see which tweets you’ve fav’d. I always thought “Favorites” was a Twitter press room of sorts.

    As soon as I read your post, I thought, “uh oh, busted,” because I’ve been favoriting tweets, too. But then I read your response to Doug, below. Whew. :-)

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      I don’t think you have anything to worry about…

  • Yesler

    Eric, we too were testing a tool (Buzzfork) in a one week pilot. It is our policy to test new applications on our own channels before recommending them to our clients. We have not nor will we recommend this to any them. Thanks for bringing this discussion to light!

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