You’re a big brand and you rock on social media. Twitter fans flock to follow your every promoted tweet. But, not so fast. A professor in Italy has calculated that a “large share” of social media followers of the biggest brands is fake. What does large share mean? In the case of Dell Computers it’s about 50 percent while at Gucci the fake followers account for 27 percent on Twitter. Even Justin Bieber (31 percent), Lady Gaga (34 percent), ESPN (32 percent) and CNN Breaking (30 percent) are raking in the fake followers. And it’s not just Twitter. Facebook likes as well as the Facebook follower count on Twitter are also subject to faking. By 2014, 10-15 percent of brands’ Facebook “likes” will be fakes – likely.
What’s behind those fake followers? To paraphrase Shakespeare, some are born with fakes, some deliberately acquire fakes and some have fakes thrust upon them. Okay, the born fakes are poetic license but you get the drift here. Over the summer Mitt Romney was accused of buying fake Twitter followers to impress the social media savvy electorate. However, about 29 percent of Barack Obama’s 18 million Twitter followers are also fakes. In some cases small businesses or aspiring entrepreneurs might buy Twitter followers because in the social media world size of follower count matters. In other cases, “rogue bots” latch on to big brands and famous people for any number of reasons.
Perception is reality, and in a world dominated by social media, buying Twitter followers might be a necessary evil. Who wants to be the brand or product with a wimpy Twitter following? In such a case, an “artificial boost” can raise your social media profile. In such a case price equals quality. The price of 1,000 Twitter followers can range from $2 to $55 with $18 being about average. The higher price fakes are able to “appear” more real and some “fake” followers are real people. It’s complicated.