Piotr Wrzosinski (@pwrzosin), IPM Digital Marketing at Roche and a member of my Pharma Twitter Pioneer Group (see here), recently posted this to Twitter today:

“0% of my followers are fake. How many fake followers do you have..? http://sttsp.pl/ahaf @StatusPeople #FollowerSpam”

Goodie! Another social media metric I can use to compare pharma Twitter accounts. I quickly followed the link to StatusPeople Web site where I was invited to “Find out how many fake followers your friends have.”

Before looking at my “friends” data, however, I looked at my own and found out that 73% of my nearly 12,000 Twitter followers were neither “fake” (“spam” accounts that “tend to have few or no followers and few or no tweets, but [which] tend to follow a lot of other accounts.”) nor “inactive.” This was quite better than most pharma Twitter accounts as can be seen in the following chart (click for an enlarged view):

I do not have 0% fakes like Piotr; six percent (6%) of my followers may be fakes. This is the lowest percentage among the 16 pharma Twitter accounts I measured. @Abbottnews had the highest percent of “fake” followers: 18%. Fouteen percent (14%) of followers of Roche, Novartis, Pfizer GSK(U.S.) are “fakes” or suspected spam accounts.

Why is it important to know how many fake and inactive followers a Twitter account has?

“There are two reasons,” says StatusPeople. “First it’s important for you to be sure when you communicate on Twitter that you are communicating with real and active followers. Because the more active your follower base the more likely they are to share your content.
The second reason is there are a growing number of Fakers out there. People who buy followers in a vain attempt to build legitimacy. “‘Look at me I have 20,000 followers, I must know my…’ They are essentially trying to game the system and it’s important for you to be able to spot them, and steer clear of them. Because ultimately if you’re willing to lie about how many friends you have you are not a very trustworthy individual.”

Well, Pfizer has over 31,000 followers. Way back in 2010, I asked “How Did Pfizer Get So Many Twitter Followers?” (see here). I suggested that Pfizer sent out a memo to all their more than 100,000 employees worldwide telling them to follow @pfizer_news. I was kidding, of course. But I suspected something was up because Pfizer_news somehow attracted about 3-4,000 NEW Twitter followers in just a few days! Did Pfizer “attempt to build legitimacy” by “gaming the system?”

One caveat: StatusPeople contends that its tool provides “very accurate insight into how many inactive and fake” followers a Twitter account has, but ONLY if there are fewer than 10,000 followers. “If you’re very ‘popular’ the tool will still provide good insight but may better reflect your current follower activity rather than your whole follower base.”

Only 6 out of my sample of 16 pharma Twitter accounts have fewer than 10,000 followers (Phrma, SanofiUS, Diabetes_Sanofi, BoehringerUS, BMSnews, and Abbottnews).

If you want to learn how many fake followers you have, go here.