Here’s how to tell if they paid for a bunch of bot followers or legit grew the account organically with real engagement
Hi, folks. This week, I’d like to talk about botnets, followers, and perceived influence. In the age of digital & influencer marketing, this has become an important tool for startups across all sectors. In crypto, however, sometimes the numbers can get really out of hand, and so for projects seeking exposure & investors seeking clarity, being able to spot bad actors & outliers is critical.
I often reference a “fundamental analysis tool belt” as a way to visualize how adding new requirements to check off when vetting projects is like adding tools to a tool belt. Eventually, you’re equipped to scrutinize so many things that your win rate is higher just by virtue of weeding out 80% of the trash projects.
This is never fool-proof, though, as even the best tech can experience exploits or rugs from bad actors, and the huge incentives mean that scammers & hackers are always upping their game.
What you’re really trying to do is approach projects with a critical bias, acting as if you’re trying to prove that they’re not worth buying. FOMO will do its best to convince you that any issues are easily explained, and that you should just shut up & buy before it skyrockets.
A critical bias will help negate the FOMO, and once you’ve exhausted your FA tool belt, you can follow your gut & at least feel less stupid if it turns out to be a bad call later on. Believe me, nothing feels worse than following your gut headlong into a project only to realize five minutes in that it has issues, or is a rug.
I heard you like bot followers, so I bought some bot followers to bot follow you
Bot followers have been a thing ever since follower count has been an accepted metric for internet fame. In the same way that people spend thousands on digital gold for multiplayer games, other folks will spend just as much on multiplatform fame.
In crypto, especially, the risk/reward can make it pretty tempting for folks looking to make easy money. As you’ll see, below, it’s actually pretty cheap to buy followers. This is one of the more expensive services, as they’re promising quality followers rather than ones that will get flagged as bot accounts.
If we do some quick math on this, 60 uses of this service would net you some 15,000 followers for about $1,020. Figuring four days per use, that’d be 15k of seemingly organic growth in 240 days. In roughly eight months of regular tweets you look like an instant sellout to thirsty project marketing leads.
Keep in mind, this is the quality method of buying influence. This is the way that may not get you red-flagged by Twitter’s algo or the follower audits we’ll be utilizing. A lot of projects & instant-influencers will use even cheaper services or fiverr giggers who just throw a massive botnet at one tweet & one account, for pennies on the hundred.
If you think about this with ROI (return on investment) in mind, it quickly becomes clear why this makes financial sense for them. If we assume an account with 20k followers can at least get an ETH per sponsor, then anything after the first shill is money in the bank.
It becomes even more lucrative when you’re talking about projects themselves doing this. They can purchase a slightly older account with a few thousand followers already for dirt cheap, and then wipe everything, change the handle & start building a “history” for the project.
If they tweet & retweet often enough, then they can bury their lack of history & use a fake tweet generator to create prophetic tweets that look older in order to give folks a sense that these cats have been building & influencing in crypto for ages.
What you’ll usually see, too, is that they’ve done similar with a few controlled “influencer” accounts in order to create perceived bullishness in the community from thought leaders. It’s a lot easier to pitch the moon boy tweets from a sockpuppet.
Even an unsuccessful mint & rug more than pays for the cost of setting up these accounts, and generally they can rebrand & use them multiple times before they get burned.
If they sell even 1,000 at a miniscule .02eth mint price, then they’re pulling roughly 20 eth or some $50k for an initial investment of maybe $5k. That’s a 10x every time they pull it off, and I think we all know that a 1k mint at .02 is a fairly extreme lowball. Team of two, three rugs this size? Why, that’s two annual salaries for minimal work – especially if they’re stealing the jpeg samples (they definitely are).
Then they can wipe the account, retire, or rebrand to become an influencer & get paid to pitch.
So…how do we sniff these cats out? My good friend Panama penned an article wayyy back in 2019 on sussing out the fakes, but I’ll try to give you a few tools that you can use today. I suggest that you use them in tandem with each other, and I’ll try to explain why as I go along.
The best thing about Botometer is that it’s free. You just plug in a Twitter handle & you get a score from 0 to 5 (five being ultrabot) showing you how bot-infested they are. You can also connect your Twitter account & scan a bunch of your followers to see if they are bots.
You never can tell who might be a synth.
If you click on a suspicious result, you can get a few more details & a warning about the rate of false positives with that score.
Clicking on “details” gives you still more information, including the Twitter user id which is useful for tracking the account itself in case of rebrands. You should also take note of the tweets by time of day & day of week, which can be handy when trying to pinpoint where in the world the account operators are likely to be.
This information in-hand, we’ll move on over to…
Sparktoro has both free & paid options, but you’ll have to register, regardless. Even with the free account, you’ll be able to get some limited results on 25 searches, with another five every month, and I suppose some shady users with VPNs might set up multiple accounts. Perish the thought.
Here’s what Sparktoro will spit out, though, with a free account.
You get a quick score out of 100, some fun facts, and a tweet breakdown (if the account hasn’t been wiped). One thing to consider is that a total account wipe can be used to hide the fact that you purchased an older account, or that you’ve rebranded an account. Needless to say, 55k followers from 10 tweets in a couple of months doesn’t quite math out…even in crypto.
This score is roughly along the same lines as Botometer’s, though. Roughly 70-80% “bleh” rating, on average. So we’ll pull out a third tool in order to confirm…
Social Blade gives you a better understanding of how many & how often followers are being added. Again, Panama did a good breakdown of Social Blade & how to use it in his article, but what I’ll say is if you’re seeing big spikes in new followers without tweets that correlate – it probably isn’t organic. Sure, there can be the outliers, where they’ve forgotten to tweet & did a successful marketing push on another platform…but this isn’t the likeliest scenario.
Using Occam’s razor & figuring out what the likeliest reason is for a project red-flagging, you might miss out on a few moonshots that triggered a red flag using one tool or another, but you’ll also miss out on dozens more rug-pulls, exploits, and exits.
What we’re seeing here is that the account has added almost all of their followers in the last thirty days, while only tweeting about eight times. Why, they added about five thousand followers with several days of complete & total silence!
That is pretty remarkable.
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. We’ve got through the why & how of purchasing followers, and added three new tools to our FA tool belts in order to help find the bottiest of the botters. Let me also caution you: the better services sometimes do offer followers the intermittently engage & don’t flag as bots in most scanners.
The scammers are always improving, which is why we must do the same. Until next week, this has been Shitcoin Sherpa. Keep it real.