Fake It to Make It?
Building a social media following is hard work. It takes thought, planning, and a lot of time. It also seems that social media accounts accrue inertia, and large accounts tend to attract lots of new followers while small accounts tend to be much harder to grow.
Once you realize it’s a possibility, it can be tempting to give a small social media following a boost by buying followers and interactions.
Some of the risks of buying fake account activity are obvious. Being found out would be embarrassing at best, and potentially cause some serious reputation damage. So why would someone consider buying fake attention? To increase perceived influence.
A startup looking for investors, a job hunter, or an entertainer trying to book gigs may see purchasing followers as a way to increase their perceived influence.
Lots of followers make a startup look popular. Lots of comments on a blog post will make a job hunter look like a recognized industry expert. Lots of favorites on a recent tweet will make an entertainer look like a viable headliner.
Given the potential upside and associated risk, is buying fake social media activity worth it?
What does it cost to be a fake social media famous? Surprisingly little. On average, a single interaction only costs a penny. Some recently advertised fake activity options include:
20,000 Facebook likes for $699
5,000 Pinterest followers for $95
1 million Twitter followers for $1,750
1 million YouTube views for $3,100
5,000 Instagram followers for $75
250 blog comments for $399
100,000 Vimeo views for $200
10,000 Tumblr followers for $484.
At prices like these, just about anyone can afford to be fake famous on the social media platform of their choice. So what’s the downside? Why should you pause before splurging on a few thousands Twitter followers?
Who’s Faking It?
Just about everyone it seems.
Comedians, politicians, actors, musicians, startup companies, bloggers, and job seekers have all been accused of buying fake activity. Among the top Twitter accounts there are more fake followers than active real followers according to StatusPeople.
The top fakers are household names like Lady Gaga, President Obama, Shakira, and Oprah, all of whom’s Twitter followings appear to include fake accounts at a rate of more than 70%!
There are Good Reasons Not to Fake It
For starters, fake social media interactions don’t add any real substantive engagement, and may alienate real followers. In addition, fake interactions can actually detract from your Klout score.
It’s also becoming easier to identify accounts with a pattern of fake interactions using online tools like Statuspeople. Some platforms such as Yelp even warn users when a profile appears to have been manipulated with fake interactions.
In addition, some social media platforms regularly purge their rolls of accounts flagged as fake, which means you could lose your fake followers just as quickly as you gained them.
In most cases buying fake social media interactions just isn’t worth it. If you want to build a real social following, one that wants to see your posts and wants to interact with you, the only way to do that is the old fashioned way: engaging content, real interaction, and time.
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