I made a couple posts about this earlier this week. My site has nearly 15k Tumblr followers, so as a result, I see some of this stuff more acutely than most people.
http://shortformblog.tumblr.com/post/11645079360/tumblr-like... (on a couple of methods I've been seeing a lot)
http://shortformblog.tumblr.com/post/11654489531/tumblr-fake... (on how the empty profiles have a payload)
I think a big part of the problem is that there's an easy-to-exploit black-hat SEO technique that many like spammers have been using. (To put it simply: You can be guaranteed that the phrase "liked this" shows up on most Tumblr pages.) Since I implemented the technique I mentioned in the first post — which I admit isn't entirely desirable, because it also blocks some relevant content too — my Tumblr spam has gone down significantly.
Also, note how, in that first post, I've gotten some spam notes in the past few days. It's because it contains the phrase "liked this" right in the post. I have the search analytics to prove it.
Most use it to repost, like and consume. It's the same with Twitter, they got so big in the UK because of celebrities. A lot of people use it to follow celebrities and maybe sometimes tweet them or friends.
- Member since 25/6/2009
- 7,500 posts
- follow ~ 400 people
- ~ 400 followers
- post mostly photography / design / fashion
- bots seen - < 5
[ same username there :) ]
We have 300 followers right now, and I'm going to about 15% of our Likes are SPAM. A problem, but not completely overrunning the system. They seem to also be using Tumblr tag pages to find articles to like. Articles tagged with common product keywords like handbags, shoes, or a brand name get much more SPAM Like activity than other posts.
Tumblr does seem to be hiding the entries in the Dashboard for some of these, indicating that they have some sort of system in place for isolating spammers.
Also, soemtimes I'll see a like of an ancient post with no rhyme to why.
I'll agree though that a good percentage of likes / reblogs are spam / bots. They also often have ads on the blog so whoever is running it will get credit when you visit the blog to see who just liked / followed / reblogged you.
So, pointing to pageview graphs that track ajax requests / toolbars and assuming that it's mostly bots is likely to be a false assumption b/c bots are likely not included in those pageview sums.
Tumblr probably has an "invite friends" feature where it offers to suck up your address book. Maybe a few software developers you corresponded with in the past used that feature.
"Twitter's Trending Topics algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help people discover the "most breaking" news stories from across the world."
If you want to up your followers, toss a profanity in every tweet. It's that simple.