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How to make your Twitter profile look like a spam account

On a regular basis I get followed by Twitter accounts that look fishy in some way.  After reviewing a few thousand Twitter profiles over the years, I’ve found a few keys to making an account look like its got some ill intent behind it.  So if that’s the direction you’re looking to go, here are what I hope you find to be helpful hints:

  • First, give yourself a username that has 4 numbers at the end or more than one underscore.  My favorites are the ones that have this pattern: “Woman’s name_in_name of place”. Be creative though. There are new heights to reach here for spam accounts. Perhaps a combination would work best for you, such as “@Cindy4462_in_SF”.
  • Next,  don’t download a profile photo or avatar.  No, just go with the big white egg that’s standard when you first set up a Twitter account. This saves time and will be a clear indicator to potential followers that you are a spam account.
  • Whatever you do, do not give yourself a bio.  Giving yourself a bio starts to make it iffy as to whether you are a spam account.   It’s best just to remove all doubt and leave this field alone.  I repeat… if you want the Twitterverse to be sure you are a spam account, do not put any information in the bio section.
  • The next step is easy enough but takes a little more time.  Follow 1999 or 2000 Twitter profiles, but make sure that no more than 150 follow you back.  In fact if more than 150 follow your Twitter account, it’s best to block some of these to keep this number acceptably low.  Warning: if you do not, people might begin to think you’re a real person behind a legitimate account.
  • Additionally, you should post no more than 8 tweets.  Sure, it seems simple enough; but you will be tempted to tweet more.  Resist the temptation.  Tweeting more will lead to all kinds of confusion for a spam account…
  • As a corollary to this, it’s best if you stick to tweets that really don’t make sense in and of themselves.  Things like “Cycloramic sweep” work well.  Using someone’s name in a tweet without it actually being a Twitter reply is also an excellent way to present yourself as a spam account, such as: “Intense and stubborn dogmatism, Stacy” or “Yo can you hear me now Karin” (especially when first starting an account).  Some of my best students have gone on to utilize this technique with great effectiveness.
  • One of those confusion-causing activities is the use of mentions.  For the love of all that is evil, do not reply to a tweet or mention another Twitter profile.  This is called engagement and must be avoided at all costs.  You want to be a good spammer, don’t you? Well, don’t you?!

Please note: to achieve greatness in this area it’s best to put into practice all of these techniques.  If you slip up in one or two areas, however, don’t get down on yourself.  Most people will still recognize you as a spam account.  Keep the goal in front of yourself.  Review these principles as often as you need reminding.  Keep practicing, and repeat this mantra to yourself on a daily basis, “Be less. Do less. Spam success.”

We are always looking for additional ways to help spam accounts achieve their goals.  No, this task is never finished.  Please add to the dialogue by submitting your ideas and suggestions.

  1. Deb Rexon
    December 6, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    If you absolutely must post a profile picture, please make it as sexy as possible. All of us gullible tweeters, sometimes need red flags waved in front of our faces just for good measure.

  2. December 6, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    You’ve missed my favorite, although to do it right, you do need to break the 8 tweet rule.

    Lots of tweets that look like this:

    @chatterbachs I made $50,000 last week on Twitter! You can too. LOL! http://tinyurl.spam

  3. December 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Please do not use the default Twitter avatar as your only indicator for a spam account. People who can’t see rarely bother replacing it. There are some exceptions, such as @jennison, but most blind people use the default, such as @kirankaja12, @kellylford, and @Robert_Carter

    • Cliff Tyllick
      December 6, 2010 at 8:21 pm

      I strongly agree with Sarah. Many of my blind friends do not use avatars — in many cases, no doubt, only because no one has taken the effort to help them find a decent picture.

      In fact, I would think that Deb and Cameron are more on target: The spammer is more likely to have an avatar that is in some way seductive.

      Come to think of it, you might actually be describing bots, not spammers. Accounts that don’t tweet are probably harvesting keywords to gain information about you that the account owner can then sell to marketers… or at least that they think they can sell. And they wouldn’t even need to know who you are for that information to be valuable — they would have insight into the discussions of people who think and feel the way you do. Then they could use that information to try to influence that audience.

      That’s why I block ’em, anyway.

  4. December 6, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    For unlimited spamming recognition make $100 bills your twitter background. Then tweet relentlessly about your company like no one and no other thing exists in the world besides your product or service.

  5. Cliff Tyllick
    December 6, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Interesting: Although you *can’t* rate any comment more than once, you *can* rate your own comment on this site.

    Let’s see, what do I think of what I said?

  6. December 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm


  7. December 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Great list even though I have already broken the first rule! Why oh why do I cling to my stupid old AOL handle from years ago? I should let it go, but somehow it has become a part of me. ~ Boones6433

    • molten_tofu
      June 9, 2011 at 11:19 am

      Exactly how I ended up being molten_tofu. There is no why.

  8. May 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I love this! I added it to my “must reads” section!

  1. December 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm
  2. June 4, 2011 at 8:15 pm
  3. August 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm

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