Sunday 26 July 2015

Are some book marketing sites cheating authors?

If you pay for promoting your book through Twitter and website posts; how do you feel about these sites having fake Twitter followers and no website traffic?

What is a fake follower?

A fake follower isn't a real person - just a name  They will never read your tweets, interact, retweet posts and will certainly never follow links or buy anything.

How do you tell if a Twitter account has fake followers? 

There are certain clues:
  • people who have an egg profile image or a scantily clad female image
  • people who don't have a profile description or one which don't describe the personality or profession of the person
  • people who don't tweet in your language
  • people whose tweets are protected
  • people who don't interact or interact nonsensically/aggressively
  • fake accounts will have a disproportionate follower and following count. Far more people are followed than follow back. A real account will have a more balanced ratio.
  • people who have not tweeted in the last 3 months. These may be genuine accounts but if they are they will be of little value to authors
  • people who tweet the same limited number of tweets endlessly
All of these are indicators only. If a Twitter account has several of these clues it's an indication but not proof of a fake account.
It's all too easy to buy Twitter followers. Software exists which generates Twitter accounts. It would be immoral for promotion sites to purchase such followers and unethical to knowingly allow such followers to remain. There are sites normally available which will check for 'fake' followers for you. and are two of them. Neither claims to be 100% perfect in that they may wrongly identify genuine followers as fake and fail to detect others which are fakes. You can also use Twitter management tools such as ManageFlitter to help you identify fakes.

What about website traffic?

No matter how attractive a book review on a website is, if the website doesn't get traffic and the pages are not discoverable by searches then the review will never be seen. You can use to examine the website traffic. If you are using Chrome as your browser you can install a toolbar icon to quickly gauge a site's traffic. ( A site with an overall traffic rank of more than 2 million is unlikely to be of much help. A website with an Alexa rank of more than 1.5 million will be little use.

Paid advertising

What about paying for your book ad to be displayed? In a recent case Facebook suggested that an ad would be displayed to 420,000 people within a 50 km radius of the advertiser. Yet the total population of the area was only 320,000. You also have to factor in your advert being shown to 'bots' rather than real people. Watch the video at and for 'soap' think 'book'

I'm making a list of who's naughty and nice...

Here's an example of a group of sites which charge $99 to promote your books by posting them on websites, promoting on Twitter and adding books to emails sent out to subscribers. I'm not identifying these well known sites because there is still some room for doubt about 'fake' followers. It's possible for a troll to skew the results by purchasing fake followers for a site. A site which identifies as having just 14% of real followers is pretty damning though. At the best, in my opinion, the site owner is careless and at worst, dishonest!
Site Twitter Followers 'Real' followers Website Alexa Rank My opinion
1 19,094 14% #316,685 Tweets from this site are useless but promotion in the website may be worthwhile
2 1938 93% #23,976,799 Very limited tweet value and website promotion will be unseen
3 11,707 97% #217,001 Moderately useful tweets and excellent website visibility - a site worth promoting on.
4 12,697 31% #5,801,496 Tweets of little value and few people will see the website
5 14,201 51% #8,434,577 Half of tweets won't be seen and few people will see the website
6 No Twitter account n/a #2,912,361 Website is not very visible
7 7,657 98% #391,624 Few but genuine tweets, good website visibility
8 23,705 97% #1,824,011 Good site for tweets. Website is just 'average'
In all these sites have a 91,000 twitter following - better than the 60,000 they claim but there are 72,000 unique followers of which 33,000 are likely to be fake.
Of course there is no conclusion to be drawn about how this group of sites promotes your books by email. This can be an effective method. However based on these results would you pay $99 to the group?

Will you help me to 'check it all twice?'

Have you paid for a promotion and got unspectacular results? If so can you check the site's 'Fake' followers at (You can check them free there) or at (You can check 5 tweeps and yourself there.) Also download the Alexa plug-in for Chrome at and let me know the site's overall rank. Be cautious of making accusations. Just give the results and your 'opinion'.

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