Followgen will give you tons of new Twitter followers, as well a guilt complex

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 12.02.49 PMIt should go without saying that buying Twitter followers is a bad idea. First of all, if they’re spambots, you’re just tweeting at no one. Plus, it’s easy to expose people who boost their follower count by throwing money at it using services like Socialbakers’ Faker Followers tool.

But spambots aren’t the only way to boost your follower count very quickly. You can do what big brands do and advertise on Twitter itself – although traditional Twitter advertising models might cost more than you’re willing to spend for new followers. 

So what if I told you there’s a very easy way to get more eyes on your Twitter account, and likely more followers? Well, we actually did tell you: A program called Followgen rides the thin line between spamming and organically growing your numbers. While Followgen is both kosher (for now) and free (again, for now), after a weekend trying the service out the results were mixed. Yes, I now have more followers … but I also feel like a big Twitter creep. 

Too good to be true or the real deal?

Followgen definitely works as advertised. You give the program permission to use your Twitter account, as with any third party app. From there, you can input one to six terms to target, and then the program runs “Campaigns” from your Twitter account where it automatically favorites tweets from people who use the keywords you choose.

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When I interviewed Recny, I signed up for the program to see if it was worth all the fuss. I signed up on Friday, choosing “comedy,” “tech,” and “Toronto” as my keyword targets, since I’m a tech and comedy writer based in Toronto. Sure enough, within a few hours my follower count started shooting up. I gained 28 followers over the weekend, and many of them tweeted at me to say thanks for the favorite, which made me feel guilty. Some of them started retweeting some of my older tweets. I used the Social Bakers Fakers tool to make sure these were real people, and they were. This thing works – and if I were on the Twitter team, I’d definitely be paying attention.

Forgive me Twitter, for I have sinned

Even though it was working as promised, I decided to stop the Followgen campaigns today. I felt bad that I hadn’t actually bothered to read any of the automatically favorited tweets. And I didn’t have the heart to reply to anyone who wrote me, because I felt like I pulled a fast one over on them; you can fake a favorite, but you can’t fake engagement without a little work on your part. I still get excited when people favorite my tweets, and I’d be sad to learn that it was just an expertly executed script and not someone who genuinely thought “Dance like no one’s screenshotting” is a hilarious thing to tweet.

Obviously, lots of people and brands use aggressive RTs and favorites and Twitter ads and all sorts of other tricks to make their follower counts tick upward; there’s nothing especially underhanded about Followgen – in fact, it’s probably errs more toward honest than a lot of other services. But I kept thinking what Twitter would look like if everyone used the program – you’d probably just start totally disregarding favorites, since they’d just mean someone was running a program, not genuinely engaging with you. And since I like actually engaging with people on Twitter, it just doesn’t jive with me.

So I’m abandoning Followgen, even though it absolutely works. If you don’t mind the idea of tricking people into thinking you cared about something they tweeted, it’s definitely a more respectable way to bulk up your follower count than paying for bots. But you might want to sign up and get yours before Twitter gets wind of how effective this tool is.