iOS Developer Gains 16000 Twitter Followers Overnight, Has No Idea How

Oliver DrobnikIt was just another day for Oliver Drobnik, an iOS developer of quite some repute. A normal Monday morning, normal commute to office, the same great colleagues and the same workstation – an absolutely typical start. That is, until his iPhone started vibrating incessantly with nary a pause. His Mac was deluged with notifications as well – all from Twitter.

Oliver was being followed on Twitter and how! A follower deluge sounds cool initially and the three colleagues had a laugh over the sudden increase – until it refused to stop. This is a story most of us would want to be the protagonist of. Who doesn’t want a barrage of Twitter followers without having to do anything?


The Sudden Increase

This is the overnight growth in followers of Oliver’s account, @cocoanetics:

Sudden Increase in Twitter Followers

Image Credit: Oliver Drobnik

As the graph illustrates, he follows 700 odd people – most of them iOS developers. Before the deluge happened, on Monday, he was being followed by 8500 odd tweeps – a fairly respectable follower count that he attributes to a follow spree where he followed about 900 iOS developers himself about 5 years ago (Now, of course it doesn’t take 5 years, when you’ve got JustUnfollow).

Today, overnight, he was up to almost 25000 followers. He has written a blog post about this increase himself, you can read it here: Mysterious Sudden Twitter Fame.


How Did It Happen

In general, you will notice accounts – mostly spam ones – following you after you’ve sent out a tweet with a popular hashtag. I’ve noticed this happen on my personal account as well as JustUnfollow’s official Twitter account. Naturally, that was what I initially assumed. However, a quick glance through his last few tweets negated this, since there were hardly any hashtags used.

I asked Oliver himself how this might have happened. Here’s what he said: “I suspected cyber terrorists initially, building up my account ahead of the Olympic games. And if they had my password, they could have tweeted nasty things.

He points at, and we agree with, the security issues that Twitter has. You might have noticed spam DMs within your own Twitter inbox, those that say “Hey! See what I found about you [link]” or “I gained hundreds of followers. Click here: [link]”. These are generally DMs or tweets the Twitter account holder did not intend to send, but were sent because a third party app was compromised.

The first thing you should do in such a scenario, and Oliver did as well, is to change your password and revoke access to any third party app you don’t trust. A lot of us give access to a lot of apps over time and they just stay there with access and permissions to use your Twitter account even if you are no longer using them.

Oliver contacted some of the accounts that had followed him and asked them why they did. They did not recall intentionally following him – clearly indicating their account had been compromised. He also contacted Twitter’s support – they didn’t reply back.

The JustUnfollow Angle: We value your trust and go to great lengths to ensure data you share with us is extremely secure.


Why @Cocoanetics? Why not your account?

I guess he got lucky – though Oliver wouldn’t say so. A lot of those followers are spam accounts, though he did get a decent number of genuine accounts following him as well.

It seems like somebody tried to buy followers (there are several nefarious websites online that let you do so) and added @cocoanetics by mistake.  Good for @cocoanetics!

“Nobody in his right mind would normally complain about getting a windfall of followers. I don’t complain either. Feels powerful.”, said Oliver.


What Does This Windfall Mean For @Cocoanetics?

Cocoanetics sells ads on their website and sponsored tweets on the official accounts. “A fun thing that happened is that immediately after I reached 25k I sold another sponsored ad,” said Oliver. He is sure that this will improve credibility, however ironical that may sound.

Besides the monetary gain from the above he also sees the current high count serving as a self-fulfilling prophecy. “To the casual developer who sees something retweeted from me, he will more likely follow me if he sees that so many people follow me. I MUST be a celebrity if all those people are following me. The power of perception“, he said.


How Can You Increase Your Twitter Followers

Not all of us are as lucky as @cocoanetics. However, there are ways you can get huge number of genuine followers for your Twitter account.

1. Have a complete Twitter profile (no egghead – that’s a total spam indicator)

2. Have a theme and tweet regularly (at least a few times a day)

3. Use JustUnfollow’s Copy Follower feature to follow tweeps who are following accounts similar to yours. These people will be most likely to follow you back.

4. Use JustUnfollow’s Keyword Follow feature to follow tweeps who are tweeting about specific keywords and hashtags that are in sync with your theme. These will follow you back as well.

A lot of Twitter users have followed the four steps above to get to the follower count @cocoanetics sports. It didn’t happen overnight, but it didn’t take forever either. Also, read this blog post: 25 Tips To Go From 25 To 25,000 Followers On Twitter.