Squatters Own 80% of Twitter

by Jeremy Schoemaker on June 9, 2009 · 82 comments

A recent article on Techcrunch showed facts that 80% of twitter accounts have less than 10 followers.

Here is the total break down of stats in the article:

Followers
Accounts with 0 followers: 29.4%
Accounts with 1 to 9 followers: 50.9%
Accounts with 10 or more followers: 19.7%

Followings
Accounts following 0 people: 24.4%
Accounts following 1 to 9 people: 43.4%
Accounts following 10 or more people: 32.2%

Tweets
Accounts with 0 Tweets: 37.1%
Accounts with 1 to 9 Tweets: 41.0%
Accounts with more 10 or more Tweets: 21.9%

Now in the article and in the comments people are blaming SEO’s for this spamming twitter.

I think they have the wrong angle one this.

These accounts are not spamming…. these accounts are just sitting idle. And have been idle for a long time.

I know some SEO’s who have registered THOUSANDS of popular twitter names just sitting.

About a year ago I had a idea to scrape a list of the top 2000 most popular babynames and then match them against taken twitter names. about 25% were still open at the time. If I would have had the time I would have probably registered them and sat on them.

I just ran the script again and 100% of them are registered. Not surprised.

I am sure that all of these accounts that have zero followers are super old. I just registered an account yesterday for a company we are launching and instantly was followed by wholefoods and a couple other huge brands. Talking with others they have the same experience.

Not sure if twitter is doing this for them, they are just following sequential ids, or just scraping the new users but one thing is very clear. Its next to impossible to register a new twittername and not get 10 followers if you use the account at all.

full disclosure

About the author...

– who has written 2858 posts on ShoeMoney.com.

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of the ShoeMoney Blog, Elite Retreat Internet Conference, & the PAR Program. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 Amazon Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. Jeremy currently lives in Lincoln Nebraska with his wife and 2 daughters.


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{ 69 comments }

1 The Bad Blogger

So what does those 0 followers do with their account?

2 Cristi

Follow other people :)) or the accounts are abandoned.

3 Jeremy Schoemaker

just let them sit…

4 rhodzy

Hmm I have a couple of accounts both I keep extremely active, especially my @rhodzy account.

No wonder I can never get any of the “premium accounts” it’s all you SEO’s that have taken them and are letting them rot away :( lol

5 Tom

Rhodzy, don’t blame the players, blame the game. As long as Twitter doesn’t enforce stricter policies, everybody is free to register the accounts he wants to have. Often annoying, but it’s the same with all internet “property”, just look at all the parked premium domains.

6 Jacques Snyman | 3 Quotes

Let them sit indeed…sitting on an investent is usually a good idea….especially if you intend cashing in on it at some stage.

Which makes me wonder….how many are you sitting on, Shoe?

7 Image Hosting

I have a twitter account that i don’t use at all but once in awhile i get a follower to my account. I just checked and i have 10 followers :D

8 Ricky Peterson

Well I agree with your saying that many accounts which has zero followers are super old, but the question one should ask is why these accounts are still active when it has ZERO followers ??

What is the main reason for these accounts to SEAT IDLE for long time ??

Today one funny thing happened with my Twitter account where i saw TED.me following me ..and i was SHOCKED to see that – What could be possible reason for TED.me following me ??

9 Gold Coins Blog

I get quite a few people following me and when I go to check out their profile they’ve already been deleted. I think those are the spammers.

10 Soggy Dave

Yep, I think Twitter new this day would come. All of the spam and fake re-tweets is on the rise big time. I also think and hope they have a plan in the works to combat this. I read an article earlier in the week that verified accounts were being bet tested. It is such a great tool, but as with others, it is exploited.

Soggy Dave

11 Free T Shirts

Amazing! I think it sucks but you really cannot stop it unless you college social security numbers or credit card numbers when people join.

12 Nathan Driver

…I think this is one of the main reasons why twitter is getting into ‘validating’ accounts.

13 Luke

The “verified accounts” are going to be mostly for celebs/businesses. I don’t think Twitter will be taking any of the squatted accounts for that. I actually contacted them about getting a couple names have been inactive for months and they shut me down.

14 Allan Gardyne

Luke, If you don’t get a helpful reply from the Twitter support folk, try again.

I was impersonated on Twitter and had to complain three times before the fake account was deleted.

15 Luke

“I just registered an account yesterday for a company we are launching…”

A company your are launching….? :)

16 Wolfbernz

I had opened a twitter account a while ago and just never got around to using it. Once I started using it I have had new followers everyday… I don’t know why but I guess that’s a good thing.

I did notice that @TrinaBD here in the office opened an account the other day and it adds people to follow automatically unless you choose not to – Hmmm… how did they get on that privy list?

17 free directory submission

Yeah, and out of these 19.7% there are scammers too – where all their posts are – register to win, register to help me win, etc, having fake girl pics. :)
Twitter is becomming a garbage can of the internet. :(

18 ZK @ Web Marketing Blog

Wow that one is really interesting discloser. So that means only internet marketing experts and other marketing related people are using this.

19 free directory submission

Forgot to add politicians to the list :)

20 Ricky Peterson

Well you can not say it is becoming garbage can on the internet cause it has many good & important features as well which has its own benefits. Also each and everything across the world has its own good side and worst side and we have to live with it dude. LOL …what spammers & Scammers will do keeping too many accounts when they actually can not get too many benefits out of it.

21 free directory submission

Yeah, but still, there are good things in a garbage cans sometimes too. :) I just think twitter really needs to pay more attention to closing bad accounts. You can’t even look for stuff anymore, it is so cluddered with “go to tinyurl and get your something”. :)
if 10% of something is quality and 90% is garbage, it’s still garbage. :) They need to do a recycling site of twitter to recycle 10%. :)
IMHO Facebook does the same thing way better now.

22 Chat Business

That’s pretty sad actually! Damn…

23 HiTech Corner

I don`t have any followers cause i don`t have twitter account :D

24 Christian

In the immortal words of Shrek.

“And the Squatters?”

“as good as gone!” (Lord Farquar)

Kick the squatters to the curb I say. Maybe put a account renewal option where if you don’t have an update for 60 days, it makes you renew your account or it gets deleted.

25 Gary Arndt

When Twitter added the suggested list in February, that is when celebrities and other people they put on the list had an explosion in followers. In reality, the vast majority of the Ashton Kucher followers are fake, but Twitter has gotten a ton of mileage out of it in the media.

26 Jerry

I Like the stats; I started an account that said go away we are watching TV in the bio. It has a subliminal bdsm pic. Then I insulted everyone that followed. I still had twenty or so followers.

Then I saw that you could sell your account of 1000 followers for $400. So I created the automatic follow account and it goes out and automatically follows on keywords. I am over a hundred in a week. There are a lot of people just building and selling accounts?

The worst are the tweetdeck people that just blast rss feeds into their account. Sometimes I look and I have one picture all the way down the page with tweetdeck spam.

The best part is that all these celebrities are pissed and put twitter down, because it isn’t about them. If you police it, it will lose its flair but sometimes it is a full on commercials. The new Honda commercial on TV suggests that you tell your friends, and social network about your Honda so they are going to send you money every month?

27 Robin Majumdar

@Jerry “The worst are the tweetdeck people that just blast rss feeds”

Did you not mean Twitterfeed.com ?

28 SEO Services

Wasn’t me!

(teehe)

I created a Twitter account just to have a central page with the people I follow, with no real intent of tweeting at this time. Within 24 hours, 3 sexy babes were following me.

Soooo flattering.

29 Asswass

This may be Shoe, but what about all the people that become a user one day and then forget? This happened to me witth myspace, badoo, orkut and other social networks.

30 free directory submissions

Yeah, 80% of the users register and “forget”, except they forget on purpose since it’s not much use to regular people. :)

31 mathewday

Interesting post. I just recently joined Twitter and was very surprised at all the “squatters” and fake accounts. I heard that they will be cracking down on these problems very soon though.

32 DJ Equipment Dealer

I think the problem is that when you first sign up with Twitter, you do so and then what? Twitter has a powerful platform but never took the time to explain it well. That is why it took a while to take off. Those that get it: GET IT! Those that signed up confused, are probably sitting on it with 10 followers. Remember, not EVERYBODY is an internet marketer.

33 Joe Mescher

Twitter Spam…

Sure, I can believe that SEOs and eager online marketers are spamming the hell out of Twitter.

The site is practically built for it, considering the terrific indexing model and ease of signing up for an account.

What really caught my attention is the fact that only 19.7% of Twitter accounts have more than 10 followers.

This tells me Twitter is massively popular, and still a relatively ‘Small Town’ of active users with relevant info to share.

Terrific article Jeremy, thanks for sharing!

34 fas

Maybe they really dont want to follow anyone other then their spouse?

35 Ricky Peterson

Hahah ..That was good one fas.

36 ways to make money online

Now I’ve been reading these comments and am wondering something…

Everyone is referring to these “SEO’s” using twitter…Now I can see the use for traffic…But referring to them as SEO’s really boggles me…How would this help with Search Engine Optimization?

Please explain…

37 Music News

yeah – but Arrington isn’t going to let them say anything overly negative about Twitter – is he?

So saying that Spammers are the cause attempts to brush away the fact that Twitter is just for marketers.

You for UFC 100 in Las Vegas next month Shoe?

Limp Bizkit are playing there :

http://www.musicreviewzone.com/2009/06/09/ufc-100-will-be-rollin-by-limp-bizkit/

38 Karl Foxley

It’s interesting. I personally know quite a few people that jumped on Twitter due to the huge media attention it received, didn’t understand it and then didn’t return.

These people (mainly friends and family) are all active Facebook users and were, I believe, expecting a similar experience.

Maybe this is part of the trend of the inactive accounts, those that just don’t get it!

Regards,

Karl

39 Needmoney.com

I’m sure the SEO monkeys are the prime culprits, but there are also plenty of people who just use twitter to stay in contact with friends. I guess similar to a facebook experience.

40 Smaxor

Actually i don’t know that that’s it. I have registered some names just so other people couldn’t have corporate names. I did this after someone let me know that someone had registered Ads4Dough. So I went through registering everything with my personal name, corporation or product name. I think a lot of people signup for twitter, look at it and then say WTF is the point of this. And never come back. I know I did for at least 6 months if not more. Only recently have I been playing with 1 of my accounts. Just my 3 cents.

41 bilin

o, so many people’s follower is less than mine.

42 Monty | Make Money Online

What happens to those accounts, Shoe? Twitter allows you to register an account which has been idle for 6 months + .. I heard. True?

43 be awesome instead

Inactive accounts are supposed to be deleted according to twitters TOS however they never seem in a hurry to do so. I’ve been waiting on several names that have been idle much longer than 6 month but they aren’t free yet.

44 Melvin

Nice find by Techcrunch… Well personally I do own 10 twitter accounts and only 1 is active, Lols…

45 Adarsh

Thanks to techcruch for the survey. i agree that twitter being a micro blogging platform is great but how far can it sustain itself? Getting funding’s from two of the most hardest to crack VC firms sure should have given them a boost.

Anyways I feel like moving away from twitter because, twitter is slowly becoming a spammer ground

46 Bibokz

I care more about whom I followed rather than who’s following on me. I always see to it that I get proper information.

47 @DANIELQUANTREL

I Agree Some Amazing Stats There! That Means I Must Be In The Top 20% Of Twitter Users Wow! Maybe Some Of My Followers Are Those Fake Accounts!

From My Online Business Perspective, ‘I Can’t See The Point Of Squatting On Accounts Unless You Are Launching Something, Planning On Selling It At 1000 Followers for a messly $400 Or If You Work In Or Across Different Niches Then I Can See The Point In Having Several Accounts.

However, If You Are Only In One Niche Say Just Your Company/business is Into Selling Auto Accessories Then You Would Just Want One Profile Targeting As Many Auto Followers As Possible! So You Can Keep Them Close & Updated Frequently.

I See Some Accounts That Have Duplicates! Same Picture But Different Names I Believe Them To Be The Spammers & They Lose All Credability With Me Instantly..

Other Than That I Have Had Great Experiences With Twitter I Have Several Accounts For Different Projects & The Followers For Each Are Quite Different In Demographics So I Find It A Most Powerful & Useful Tool! For Networking Socializing & Marketing!

My Advise Get A Solidly Branded Profile ASAP Start Following Relavent Twitters & Build Your List! Twitter Is Just A Hatchling & If Your Top 20% Now Thats A Great Thing For The Future!…Happy Tweeting

48 Dino

wow, those are some very interesting figures indeed. Never really knew that.

49 Find Affiliate Offers

Maybe it’s just possible that 80% of people have less than 10 friends? :)

50 SEO Services

I imagine there are a lot of media people snatching up names so that they don’t get spoofed. Remember the @DonDraper fiasco? AMC tried to *sue* Mad Men fans for tweeting their characters!

I wonder if now, every television showrunner and film producer is squatting on the name of every character in their properties.

51 bladi420

well my friend this is posible I use twitter and thanks God a have a lot of folowers so is preetty amazing the work that I am doing a lot of great articles because no one is my friend the only follower that I know is my boss the rest are people that really enjoy my articles

52 Hakan

Saturday at 7:01am, register a username with facebook. that will probably make it to the top of the serps once included in the title.

53 Jacques Snyman | 3Quotes

I am ready and waiting to claim my name once and for all. The regular FB community haven’t taken too much heed of this one, and it is on a first come first served basis, so I will be hovering to claim my name!

54 SEO Training Guy

Very cool. I’m new to Twitter (embarrassed) but think that games are a great viral marketing tool. I know it’s all about followers. Accounts that don’t have any should probably be shut off.

55 Free iPhones

I say blow out old accounts that are inactive for more than 60 days. That will keep the clutter to a minimum. As slow as Twitter’s been lately, seems they could already use some server housekeeping.

56 ECG Guru

I don’t use my twitter account at all, but I get follower every week. I suppose I should do something with it….

57 ECG Guru

I just got followed at the same time I commented…: )

58 Mr. School Fundraising Ideas

It is people like my mom, yeah I said my mom. Who say “oh get me on twitter and facebook” then when you do they just let it sit there. Sorry people I dropped the ball on that one.

59 SEO Services

Poor Mom. She counted on you!

60 Gold Coins Blog

I have a friend that got on Twitter, followed me and about 2 other people about 4 months ago and that was it. Some people become addicted to twitter and then there are those that just don’t get it.

61 John

Squatters. Interesting language but I prefer twitter Quitter. Much more ring to it, and it gets to the point.

Many companies have been sold on social marketing, go the cheap route and do it themselves rather than hiring someone young that understands social networks, and then finds Twitter Twatter just so much gobbleligook. Which is to say, a bunch of folks talking at each other and not reading each other’s posts.

No-one responding to the posts, no-one going to the linked sites, no-one spending a dime on your stuff.

So, a Twitter Quitter soon dominates the twiiterscape and who can blame them? Twitter is much Twat about nothing.

62 William Bakhos

Its crazy… using Twitter is an awesome way to see how things go viral.. and your the virus. For every person you add, 3 people add you and so on.. then when they realise you don’t follow back they back off..

It’s a surprisingly selfish network.. everyone out for their own but fascinating to sit back and watch

63 Play Games Win Prizes

Like what I have been saying lately…Twitter is just a giant spam pool or link dump.

-Mike

64 YingHang

I must thank you for the amazing statistics you provided there. Squatters own 80% of the twitter is a great way to inform people about what twitter is.
I think twitter is more than what is told there. Well as someone told there, it is almost impossible to have less than 10 followers if you are an active twitter.
In the field of internet marketing twitter is the name we hear every day. Oldies are learning it to excel in this field.

65 Matthew

Twitter is being heavily used by internet marketers. Some of these are just registering usernames with the intention of reselling them to others. To be honest this happens with any free service. In the past it happened with hotmail and gmail email accounts…

66 Do Not make Money

Twitter is very addictive. One thing I hate is that when i start following people I get automated messages and there will be a link to buy something. i immediately un follow them. Sure enough they are not there to communicate but just to build follower list

67 R Kumar

I had read somewhere that anything growing too steep has something fishy about it. It does not have a strong foundation. Look at the growth that Twitter has witnessed over the past 7-8 months and you will start seeing something fishy about it. Everyday I get approximately 200-250 follower request that has had no activity since the past 5-6 months. Absolutely zero tweets. Which are these accounts and who are owning it. The debate can be never ending.

68 Chris Miller

Well you do kinda add to the problem by selling twitter spam / bulk account creation tools, don’t you? Some of your posts amaze me….. not consistent at ALL!

69 Buddy Mashack

Food for thought. Thank you, something to talk about with my brother, he’s very into this.

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