January 29, 2016 by Rachel Rueben
Here’s a small sample from my upcoming book “Social Media Hacks No One Tells You About.” It includes celebrities, cheating and public scorn, I hope you enjoy it. 😉
These days you can buy just about anything online like fake book reviews, fake girl friends and yes, even fake social media followers. There are multiple online businesses that promise to help people look popular online and increase the number of their social media followers. Their prices range from a cheap $10 for 5,000 Facebook followers to $300 for 10,000 Facebook followers. These tactics are appealing for those who are lazy or for people who want instant fans but there’s no way to fake popularity no matter how hard you try. Let me prove it to you…
According to a Forbes article celebrities like Shakira, Lady Gaga and even President Obama were called out on their inflated Twitter following when it was noticed that many of the same accounts were following famous people, which had little or no activity on them outside of just following people. It was presumed these were fake accounts from a hired service but no one involved anticipated being discovered.
You see someone created an app that can go through a person’s Twitter account and tally up all the fake or suspect accounts. Since that time several websites offer this service for free and for today’s lesson, I’ll be using one called Twitter Audit to prove a point. But before I do that, let’s see how this service works.
According to the online site Twitter Audit, “Each audit takes a random sample of 5000 Twitter followers for a user and calculates a score for each follower. This score is based on number of tweets, date of the last tweet, and ratio of followers to friends. We use these scores to determine whether any given user is real or fake. Of course, this scoring method is not perfect but it is a good way to tell if someone with lots of followers is likely to have increased their follower count by inorganic, fraudulent, or dishonest means.”
Excerpt taken from: https://www.twitteraudit.com (Scroll to bottom of page)
So I decided to use Twitter Audit and see if anything had changed with pop star Shakira’s Twitter account which was featured in the Forbes article.
I typed in her user name and according to Twitter Audit 64% of Shakira’s Twitter followers are fake. Now let’s take those numbers and put them into perspective: As of Aug 19th 2015, Shakira had a following of 32,686,984 on Twitter and of those 20,919,699.76 were fake. To break it down even further as to how many people that is, keep in mind there are only 19.75 million people living in the state of New York. Yes, Shakira can populate the entire state of New York with her fake Twitter followers!
Now do I believe Shakira was directly involved in this scandal, no. However I do believe her PR team was involved and they were desperately trying to build their client’s social media account by any means necessary. Sadly they chose to use a technique known as black hat SEO. It’s the process of artificially inflating web visibility either for social media accounts, websites, or blogs using unethical techniques. Now granted, if websites like Twitter find out what you’ve been up to, they won’t throw you in the slammer. However they can delete any ill gotten followers, or retweets, they can even ban you if it suits them. Keep in mind, when you sign up for an online account, there are rules called Terms of Service, or TOS, and it would be wise to adhere to those rules if you want to do business, on a particular site.
Case in Point
According to The Daily Dot, Sony/BMG and Universal Music were stripped of two billion views on their Youtube accounts. No, you did not read that wrong, I said billion with a B. They violated Youtube’s TOS by hiring a service that uses bots to click on pages and artificially increases views for their clients. So keep in mind social media websites like Youtube can and will clean house when they see someone abusing their platform.
Author See, Author Do
Since it seems that everyone and their mother is doing this, some authors mistakenly believe there is nothing wrong with “faking it till they make it”, and are risking credibility in order to create artificial buzz over their books. Several years ago, author John Locke was one of those exposed by a New York Times journalist doing a story on businesses providing fake reviews on Amazon. To add insult to injury, Mr. Locke was outed by the very person he paid to supply the reviews! Later on several retailers had to give refunds to customers who had purchased Mr. Locke’s book on self-publishing. Ouch!
Mr. Locke was probably trying to get the Amazon algorithms to work for him. According to many, if you get enough reviews, Amazon will start promoting your book for you. But as you see, things didn’t go according to plan.
Why Are You Bringing This Up?
As you spend more and more time on social media you may be approached by these services and you need to know the facts. Keep in mind there are services which are legitimate and can help you boost your social media following using various methods like advertising, cross promotional groups, and even helping you with content creation. However, they don’t guarantee a specific amount of followers let alone any engagement. Though it may be tempting to cheat the system in order to look popular, it isn’t worth it. Besides aren’t real followers better than fake ones? Like most things, social media takes time and effort. You can’t create a bond with readers overnight so don’t waste your money on services that can’t deliver what you really need.
Now I’m handing the mic to you, have you ever thought of buying fake popularity on social media? If so, dish in the comments.
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel “Hag” and “The Eternal Bond Series” both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.