Well it’s good to see you came back for the next episode in the ‘Long Hard Road’.

Last month I told you about my experiences with twiends & twitclub, so now it’s the turn of a few other websites under the microscope. In those early days on twitter I checked out every version of ***follow there was, and again there were issues that might make it better not to use them if you want targeted followers!

They all share the same presentation format, with a few minor variations, which is a bit suss to start with. Also, when you are asked to key in your name & password, the latter remains visible on screen, not hidden away under a row of dots! On one site I visited perhaps twice, I checked out a couple of free ‘followers’ to see what I might get. It was déjà vu as the main thrust of names appearing in my inbox was ‘the usual suspects’ from last month’s sites under investigation!

I was not impressed! Twitter then contacted me to advise me to change my password as it appeared my account may have been hacked! I was really not impressed! All change on the password front and move on to pastures new. Well not SO new, as the other ‘follow’ sites turned out to be safer but stubbornly familiar. Maybe, because I was sticking rigidly to the ‘Free’ options every time, they weren’t too keen on my dropping in now & then. They all offer varying numbers of followers at a price, but I’m working on a strict budget here folks! I’m a pensioner remember so I skipped the one-off & monthly plans on offer.

The other element which is depressingly similar is their interpretation of the word ‘follower’. They promise 100 followers free a day & up to 1000 in a calendar month, but when you check your inbox you actually receive between 25 – 35 followers, the remaining chunk of your ‘100’ are added to the people YOU follow! They all have a pretty standard list which they tack on which includes Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Maria Shriver, 10 Downing Street, various web entrepreneurs and some people nobody ever heard of! They also have a rule that you MUST follow a large % of these people or you’ll be drummed out of the Brownies (a la twitclub!)

So you have two choices, follow a sizeable proportion of their celebrity list and delete the ones you just can’t stomach being associated with, or —- well there isn’t really a second choice. Ultimately, of course they did get fed up with me milking the free option & politely informed me the ‘premium’ option was the only one open to me from now on. Hey ho. One door closes & another slams in your face!

A young lady called Catherine (19) followed me one day in December and appeared to have a sizeable matching pair (viz: – her follow/ followers were roughly the same in the 60,000s). There was a link to a site that promised to show me how to add quantity & quality free of charge, so although I was very wary given my earlier experiences, I took a chance and lo & behold I was in

As per usual there was a free option with a limited number of features and a paying option that had a few more ‘bells & whistles’ to help get even more targeted followers. Where this site differed from the others I had accessed was in the statistical analysis of each twitter member. As invited by Catherine, I used her name in the ‘@interesting tweeps’ box and her vast following were listed in 20 page packets (400 per visit) with options such as ‘How Many Tweets’, ‘Latest Tweet’, ‘Followers’, ‘How Likely To Follow Back’ & even a ‘Klout Ratio’ which at first I thought meant I might get filled in, if I clicked on their icon (or didn’t!) but found out later it was an indication of their punching power if you like, on twitter.

Over Christmas & into January I used tweepi to follow hundreds of potential followers using Catherine and several other users whose tweeps were interesting, funny and who seemed to share the same interests as myself. It would be nice to report that having ignored all those with virtually no users, who never tweeted and obviously had no intention of following back, that I had a 100% strike rate. Actually it was probably 30% – 40%, so it wasn’t to be sniffed at! It was just a bind having to trawl back through perhaps 48 hours later unfollowing those who ignored my offer of mutual appreciation!

One result of all my ‘trawling’ was to offer further proof to the assertion that fictitious names are added by unscrupulous companies/individuals to give them a conduit through which to bombard users with blatant adverts and perhaps something even more sinister.

One particularly ‘interesting’ tweep I followed for leads was a rich source for a couple of days, then I kept bumping into people I was already linked with, or had discarded as they hadn’t replied in my reasonably generous ‘window’ so I skipped forward twenty pages or so and tried again. I found quite a few names with profile photos I had seen elsewhere under different names and on these the first letter of the first name had been altered to give an unfamiliar name, so that Cheryl became Wheryl and Jenny became Tenny? Names you don’t hear in the school yard, even with today’s vast choice of colourful options!
So ‘Be careful out there!’ as someone used to say on a well loved cop show!

On the whole though is one of the better sites out there, just don’t accept EVERYTHING as gospel!

I promised you a story about a Christmas gift for an elderly lady didn’t I? Well, you remember the article in the Mail on Sunday ‘Live’ supplement that started this website/twitter ball rolling in the first place? I was reading Chris Evans’s ‘Here’s the thing’ weekly contribution in the self same magazine about a fortnight before Christmas and his wife had asked him to come up with a list of 10 books to purchase to give to her grandmother. Evidently she’s a voracious reader and this ten – pack was just to see her over Christmas and New Year!

The green light went on in my head! I rattled off a letter to his nibs, explaining what my book was about. How I had sold virtually every last copy of my paperback print run & that as she was probably of my generation, his wife’s grandmother may well be interested in some of the stories that happened when she was a young slip of a girl. I stuck the letter & signed copy of the book into a jiffy bag & posted it off to him at the BBC.

In all honesty I didn’t expect there to be a sudden rush to Amazon from Radio One listeners put onto a likely 2012 Best Seller by young Mr Evans, but deep down I think I hoped for a card with a word of thanks, either from himself or maybe the lady for whom the gift was intended. Not too much to hope for was it?

Perhaps they just wrote me off as a ‘chancer’ looking for a free plug. My view was that as I had explained I was concentrating on the kindle version from now on it seemed better for someone who loved a good read to have one of the last copies rather that it end up in the recycling bin in a couple of weeks! There’s still time I suppose? Perhaps several people had the same idea for a Christmas gift and my modest offering is still to be read, in a stack of books by the side of the TV.

The heart warming tale concerns Al Read, the agent we worked for in the last couple of years of the book’s collection of anecdotes. We had been in touch since his own book celebrating the ‘Granary Years’ had been published in 2003 and linked more recently via the ubiquitous facebook. Al had given me some publicity when the book was published in August, through his monthly news letter for old Granary aficionados, so when the festive season was upon us I sent him a copy of the book to thank him for all his efforts in ‘spreading the word’.

He was chuffed to bits & after reading it he came back to me and said he thoroughly enjoyed it, so he did a big spread in the next news sheet with links to the website and so on. A real gent! An example to a lot of people I say!

That’s enough for this month I think. I don’t want you to get too tired! Next time I’ll tell you about the spammers on my website & my run ins with some of the other ‘follower’ websites, free or otherwise. I’m still forging ahead despite the setbacks, 16000 followers are around the corner; let’s set a target of 17500 for when you come back again, okay? Bye for now!

The next instalment will be posted at the end of March.

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