Could Twitter’s Success Be Its Demise?
We are all seeing more and more of it lately – Twitter Spam. And quite rightly so, it’s putting many of us off that cute little bird. But just how big is the SPAM problem?
You only need to search #SPAM to realise that this bird has some serious problems, with many users fed up by the onslaught of SPAM on the micro-blogging site. According to Pear Analytics, only 3.75% of messages are SPAM and 6% are promotional. But it seems this analysis fails to consider follower SPAM probably the biggest issue facing the site. One Twitterer stated in a recent article that up to 38% of his new followers were SPAM. Thus with this problem spiralling out of control, Twitter could face a mass exodus of loyal users whom are fed up, as the value of Twitter is diluted by the sea of irrelevant content and followers.
Why all the SPAM?
Since its inception, the very ease of connecting with potential consumers, or other industry peers has been one of the core drivers of the sites success. Unfortunately however with no barriers to entry, and ease of SPAMMING the twitterverse, not only are dodgy starts ups spamming Twitter users, even many corporates are mass following users and feeding marketing messages through the engine with no concept how to engage with consumers.
What is Twitter Going To Do About It?
So with an increasing amount of SPAM followers and content – just how is Twitter going to rise to the challenge – or is it too late as the SPAM flood gates are open?
In 2008 Twitter introduced a new Spam control method – that limits the amount of people you can follow to 2,000, but with all buying and selling of followers that is going on – this has not had any real effect with more and more users complaining of increasing SPAM. In addition Twitter is attempting to crack down on follower sellers with one Australian company, USocial, contacted by a Twitter brand management firm expressing concern over their activities. But picking off the culprits one by one is probably not going to be a long term strategy, as for every 1 they tackle another 10 could surface.
Twitter now therefore stands at the cross-roads, as did the email marketing industry to significantly clamp down on SPAM – but just how are they going to do it?
What Twitter Needs To Do
I have every confidence that Twitter will be taking this issue very seriously considering that it could significantly devalue the organisations worth. Some of the key tactics I believe Twitter should consider are;
1. Block Porn; So much of Twitter “SPAM” accounts contain profiles and content that is pornographic. Twitter needs its system to make decisions in real time to block such profiles from the get go by adopting a plug in similar to the WordPress SPAM filter which will stop the flow of direct message and follower SPAM.
2. Bulk User Block; The current blocking capability of Twitter, makes hard work of removing unwanted contacts. A simple bulk select and delete function should be added to enable users to block or report users to Twitter. Whilst this function maybe available in other Twitter apps, the vast majority of novice users will not be aware of how to unleash the power of the applications thus these tools need to be accessible through the twitter interface.
3. Learn from email; Twitter should provide users with the ability to mark messages as junk to enable Twitter to determine repeat offenders abusing the system.
4. Monetise Direct Messages; Whilst Twitter imposes a limit of 250 direct messages per day, one of Twitter’s SPAM issues is related to the “zero” cost involved in sending messages. By charging users to send direct messages above reasonable use, Twitter may be able to reduce the influx of direct message SPAM and also make some money out of its network. In addition to such a strategy, Twitter should provide users with an opt-in ability to determine if they want to receive such promotional messages.
5. API access; Twitter must deploy much more stringent guidelines for use of its API, and block those IPs/users who are abusing the system.
What are your thoughts – will all of this unsolicited Twitter noise make you disable your Twitter access? What do you think Twitter can do to reduce SPAM?