A Case Study: Fake Followers Can Break You

Last Tuesday, I posted an article listing five arguments against buying followers on social media.  This week, I’m providing a case study to prove how bought and fake followers can destroy a business or a campaign.

The name of the person in this case study isn’t important.  What’s important is how bought followers have affected his reputation and his campaigns.

Four years ago (2012), a self-advocate was focused on raising his profile on social media.  At the time, he only had a few thousand followers on Twitter and his Twitter account hadn’t been blue tick verified by Twitter despite his repeated social media tweets demanding that Twitter blue tick verify his account.

Suddenly his numbers began jumping by the tens of thousands at a time, as if tens of thousands of people suddenly became aware of him on Twitter.  With the quick increase in followers, the campaigner made a habit of posting the number of followers he had on a daily basis — sometimes several times a day.

By the time the London 2012 Summer Olympics came around, he had topped 250,000 followers.

However, it wasn’t long after the London 2012 Summer Olympics that his numbers began to fall just as quickly as they had risen.  According to twittercounter.com, he lost 75,000 followers in the first few months of 2013.

NOTE: Twitter Counter is the #1 Twitter stats site powered by Twitter, and has tracked Twitter stats since June 2008.

Within a few more months, the number of followers had dropped to just shy of 100,000 and within days thousands of followers started following his account again.

It now hovers at slightly more than 115,000 followers, however, nearly fifty percent of those followers are fake followers.  This information was posted by one of campaigner’s former followers who was outraged by what he found on Twitter Audit, and posted the results publicly.

IMAGE 2_Redacted

NOTE: Twitter Audit’s tag line is, “Exposing Twitter fraud since 2012” and states on their website that Twitter Audit’s 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.”

There are repeated pleas from this person on their Twitter account trying to move followers to action.  The results are less than satisfactory as many of his real followers are expressing negative feelings towards the seemingly endless tweets asking for donations, free services, and more.

Add to that, the blue tick verification downside to buying followers.

Since 2012, this campaigner has posted repeatedly on Twitter that he is upset with the fact that Twitter has yet to blue tick verify his account.

Twitter blue tick verifies accounts of “highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.”  While his area may be thought of as a key interest area, blue tick verification is reserved for those who have achieved the status of “highly sought user” without having a majority of bought and fake followers.

In this case, it would seem that the determination is that about one-quarter of the 250,000 followers at the height of his purported popularity were real while three-quarters were bought followers.  Even now, about half of his followers have been determined to be fake followers.

NOTE:  This doesn’t take into account the multiple accounts the user himself has which appear to be real followers, which he regularly uses to agree with himself and promote what his primary account tweets.

This is how bought and fake followers can destroy a business or a campaign.

If you want to build your social media numbers, do so honestly.  Your followers will be engaged, and have positive feelings about what you share with them.  Likewise, you’ll have positive feelings about your followers, and you’ll be interested in what they share with you.

As a side benefit, you won’t have to watch the calendar to make sure you don’t miss “bought follower” renewal dates.

Elyse Bruce

5 Arguments Against Buying Followers

We’ve all seen the offers on social media claiming that for just pennies a day, you can enjoy the luxury of appearing to have thousands of followers for your accounts.  In a world that seems obsessed with quantity over quality and manufactured friends and followers over hard-earned friends and followers, the option to buy more followers can be found at every turn.

Don’t do it.

You Have To Have Numbers To Be Impressive

Contrary to popular belief, having thousands of followers while impressive, isn’t always good for your brand … especially if they aren’t real people who are interested in you and your product or service.  They will make those numbers look nice, but they aren’t going to become engaged followers, and they certainly aren’t going to buy your product or service.  They are useless followers at best, and dangerous followers at worse.

People Will Think You’re Successful

Other businesses and entrepreneurs checking out your social media are going to notice that you have a great many followers but very limited engagement from those many followers.  This will be reflected in the statistics available from websites like Klout where data from your multiple social media accounts are gathered and analyzed via an algorithm to kick out your Klout Score on a scale of 1 to 100.  The higher you score, the more influential you are online.

Imagine how poorly fake followers will show on your Klout score when you have thousands of followers but somehow manage to have minimal influence.  Ask yourself this question:  Would you do business with someone with a profile such as this?

Nobody Can Tell Fake Followers From Real Ones

Those fake followers aren’t a secret to anyone considering doing business with you based on information gleaned from your social media accounts.  There are ways to find out which accounts are legitimate and which are accounts paid to follow you.   Imagine how you would feel if a business or entrepreneur you were interested in doing business with proved to be little more than a string-and-tin-can operation and not the megacorporation it purported to be.  Would you do business with them?

There’s Nothing Illegal About Buying Followers

If you don’t remember the Terms of Service to which you agreed when you signed up for your social media account, now is the time to refresh your memory.  Most social media sites have a clause that states that buying followers isn’t allowed on their site, and doing so may result in having your account deleted and your IP banned.  Deleted and banned.  Now how would that look for you and your business?

Fake Followers Pose No Threat To Anyone

Most fake followers are actually hackers and scammers.  The most important thing you have to offer fake followers is access to legitimate people following your social media account.  Hackers and scammers don’t care about you, your business, or your clients and customers.  Your financial worth to a hacker or scammer isn’t much, but the information they can get from you — and because of you — is worth more than you realize on the black market.

Final Note

People do business with people and businesses they can trust and believe in.  Many will even pick a mom-and-pop business over a large corporation because they value the real relationship that can be cultivated.

What they won’t forgive is finding out that you put their information at risk by literally buying into the social media numbers game.  If you haven’t started, keep growing your social media accounts the old-fashioned way through hard work, excellent content, and respect for your customers and potential customers.  If you’ve already bought fake followers, block them the next time you’re signed in to your accounts.

Nothing says poison faster than fake followers.  Don’t be the entrepreneur or business that makes the mistake of thinking bigger is better thereby justifying any padded accounts under your control.

Elyse Bruce

The Real Story In A Fictional Package

There’s so much more to publishing a novel than just writing it.  Aside from the regular rigors of writing, rewriting, proofreading, rewriting, editing, and more, an author — with or without a major publishing house behind him or her — has to have a marketing plan in place otherwise the book just sits on the proverbial shelf.

When I first began writing “Knick Knack Paddywhack” back in 2013, a lot was going on in the autism community as chasms between groups grew wider and wider.  A new group of autistics had sprung up on the Internet:  Self-diagnosed Aspies.  For the most part, many were people who had taken the online quizzes a number of times until they were able to cross over the thin blue line from NT to AS.  In their wake, the chasm grew even wider.

One of the biggest problems this created was that people were increasing skittish about asking questions that needed to be answered for fear of being targeted for abuse by others in the autism community from parents to awarists, autism advocates to self-diagnosed autistics, and more.  But the questions begged to be asked.

Could autistics lie?

Could autistics bully others?

Could autistics tell right from wrong?

As an author, I wondered about that and more.  I wanted to know if it was possible for a non-autistic to convince the autism and medical communities that he had autism, and to live that ruse for an extended period of time.

April is Autism Awareness Month and May is Mental Health Month, and so I decided back in 2013 that “Knick Knack Paddywhack” would be released near the end of April to coincide with both awareness months.  I didn’t set a specific date other than to earmark publication for the end of April without pegging the year.

Oddly enough, authors usually have an idea as to what year they would like to publish a novel.  In this case, it was more important to create three-dimensional characters who reminded readers of people they knew in their real lives.  I wanted to craft a story that was compelling with unexpected twists and turns along the way.

And most importantly, I wanted readers to ask questions and to search for the answers to those questions.

A great deal of research went into this book before the first word was put to paper, right down to finding a right name for the main character.  When all was said and done, the name Rion McNeally was decided upon because no amount of searching on the Internet yielded that specific name.  The same can be said for Aidan Beresford-Smith.

With the release of “Knick Knack Paddywhack” came the launch of the “Save Rion McNeally” blog site.  Every day, Rion’s friend Paddywhack does his best to create a safe environment where people can ask and discuss what autism may or may not be without fear of trolling or bullying from those who don’t share their opinion.  A Facebook page and a Twitter account were set up as well with Paddywhack at the helm.

Paddywhack is leaving an impression on social media and, indirectly, so is Rion McNeally.  People relate to the situation Rion finds himself in and they understand Paddywhack’s concern for his friend.  And despite the fact that the blog states that all of this is fictional, the question needs to be asked.

Dean Beadle UK
What do we know about Autism Spectrum Disorder and criminality?  Studies have proven that autistics are three times more likely to be victims than non-autistics.  Autistics are bullied more often than non-autistics.  And real life has proven that sometimes autistics knowingly and purposely commit crimes.

Pick up your copy of “Knick Knack Paddywhack” on Amazon (in the US and abroad) by clicking HERE, and on CreateSpace by clicking HERE.

You can subscribe to the “Save Rion McNeally” blog by clicking HERE.  Follow “Save Rion McNeally” on Facebook by clicking HERE and follow @4RionMcNeally on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Elyse Bruce

STORY SYNOPSIS:  Rion McNeally isn’t pleased with how things are going in his life. The trouble with his life is that people keep interfering with his plans. If only they knew just how complicated his life really is!  This novel deals with a number of themes including Autism Spectrum Disorder, bullying, and criminal activities.

P.S.  Rion’s name is pronounced similarly to how one pronounces recording artist Rihanna’s name.

P.P.S.  Watch for the book trailer due out May 2016.

Will It Be Trump v Clinton This November?

For those who are busy freaking out over the possibility that the November election will see Clinton and Trump go head-to-head for the Office of the President of the United States, please take a look at how things played out back in 1952.

At the Democratic National Convention, Adlai Stevenson had 273 votes to Estes Kefauver’s 340 in the first ballot. Stevenson then had 324 votes to Estes Kefauver’s 363 in the second ballot. Finally in the third ballot he had 617 votes to Kefauver’s 276 votes.

What should be noted here is that Kefauver was the favorite as well as the front-runner for the nomination, and he won most of the primaries.

Over on the Republican side, things were tricky between Eisenhower and Taft. The popular vote was split pretty much evenly between the two. They each won almost half of the primaries (with a couple wins going to Earl Warren of California and Harold Stassen of Minnesota).

The upset came when Eisenhower’s supporters in New Hampshire’s primary wrote his name onto the ballot. When the Republican Convention took place, the race was so close between Eisenhower and Taft that they were running neck-in-neck with each other.  After two ballots, it was decided that Eisenhower was the winner.

Eisenhower and Stevenson duked it out for the right to be the next President of the United States back then … not the favored Kefauver and the known-element Taft.

My point in sharing this bit of history is to allay the fears of those who worry that it’s already set in stone that this November voters across the U.S. will be voting for the somehow favored Donald Trump or the known-element Hillary Clinton.  This may be one of those elections that will harken back to the election of 1952.  It could happen.

Elyse Bruce

5 Leads You Need To Understand

People hate cold calls.  They hate to make them, and they hate to get them.  So how do you find customers if cold calls are disliked by so many on both sides of the business relationship?

Sorting Your Leads

The first thing to do is to sort out potential leads from general leads.  Not all leads are created equal.  Some are warm leads, and some are — for lack of a better term — dead cold.  Every lead can be sorted into five leads.

Affiliation Leads

These leads are people you don’t know but with whom you have some connection. Perhaps you know them through a mutual business acquaintance or friend.  Perhaps you know them through a professional organization such as a through a Chamber of Commerce event.  Regardless of how you met, both of you know some of the same people, and you both have an interest in maintaining a healthy relationship with that mutual friend.

Familiarity Leads

These leads are people you know somewhat better than affiliation leads, but you still don’t know them well.  Perhaps you’ve volunteered together at special events benefitting the community.  Perhaps you have sat on the same committees.  Regardless, you have a better understanding of these people than if you just know them in passing thanks to a casual introduction.

Information Leads

These leads are people who are know who you are, and know what you offer as a service or a product.  They may drop by your website or blog on a regular basis (they may even be subscribers to your blog) or they may be following you on social media.  They see you the value in cultivating an easy working relationship with you and your business.

Experience Leads

These people know and like you and your business.  They are willing to introduce you to their circle of influence as well as to their personal and professional friends (leading to more affiliation leads).  What’s more, they know they can trust you not to burn them in the process of growing your business via their introductions to new prospective clients and customers.

Dead Cold Leads

These people may be polite but they have no use for your services or your products.  There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that some very nice people are dead cold leads.  In doing so, you respect the fact that not everyone will want what you’re selling.  In accepting this graciously, you leave the door open for these people to introduce you to their outer circle of influence (leading to more affiliation leads).

How Leads Level Up

It’s called networking.  The more a person interacts with you, the better that person knows you.  The better a person knows you, the more at ease that person feels around you.  The more at ease a person feels around you, the  more likely that person is to introduce you to others he or she knows well.  All this points to warm interactions and a sense of camaraderie.

Final Note

It’s a fact that people generally prefer to do business with those they know as opposed to strangers.  Being genuine and friendly counts for a lot in personal interactions as well as in business.   Along with growing your business, you want to build a reputation for being respectful of the relationships colleagues have with others you would like to get to know.  Don’t abuse the kindness of colleagues, and be as generous with your contacts (and introductions to them) as others are with you.

Elyse Bruce

Idle No More: Off The Reservation

Far too often, non-Indigenous peoples say Indigenous peoples need to get over the claim that white people reference and frame Indigenous life and lifestyles in negative ways.  The problem is that it’s a fact that white people reference and frame Indigenous life and lifestyles in negative ways.

For those of you who doubt it, how do you explain away Hillary Clinton’s recent comments while campaigning?  Don’t take my interpretation as gospel.  Take a look at how CNN reported her comments.

Reported by CNN_IMAGE 1
Hillary clarified her comments about men “off the reservation” by stating that she wasn’t going to “deal with [men’s] temper tantrums or their bullying or their efforts to try to provoke [her].”

If you aren’t familiar with this common phrase, you should know that it’s a reference to the Indigenous peoples of North America who were restricted to reservations created by the Canadian government (in Canada) and the American government (in the U.S.).

In the 1800s, when the term “off the reservation” was used, it was with contempt and hatred for Indigenous peoples who refused to stay on the government-created reservations. In fact, it was believed that an Indigenous person who wasn’t “on the reservation” was out to wage war on Americans.

“The acting commissioner of Indian affairs to-day received a telegram from Agent Roorke of the Klamath (Oregon) agency, dated July 6, in which he says: ‘No Indians are off the reservation without authority. All my Indians are loyal and peaceable, and doing well.” (Baltimore Sun, July 11, 1878)

Yes, if Indigenous peoples were “off the reservation” they were supposedly hellbent on putting white people in peril for their lives.  Those who were “off the reservation” were allegedly rogue Indians who were the scourge of the continent.

It’s bad enough when the media uses the term, and it’s bad enough when everyday people use the term, but when someone hoping to win the Presidential nomination for their party uses the term, it’s time start asking what kind of President would that person make if elected into power.

American voters, before throwing your support behind one candidate or another, ask yourself if the candidates who use racial slurs are the kind of candidate you would like to see representing your country.  If the answer is “No” then it’s time to start paying attention to what candidates are saying, and peek underneath those comments to see what’s hiding within their agenda.

Elyse Bruce







The Morbid Excitement Of Conspiracy Theories

No sooner was the news out about Prince’s passing than the conspiracy theories began flying about the Internet.  Prince was a drug addict.  Prince had been up for six days straight.  Prince was meat-eating vegan.  Prince was a strict Jehovah’s Witness who wasn’t a strict Jehovah’s witness.

One of the wildest conspiracy theories was that just days after getting back the rights to his own music, his label put a hit out on him.

Now, that’s a great storyline for a fictional story, and if someone wrote the story of a fictional music icon being bumped off by a fictional music label to regain control of the fictional music catalogue, there would be a lot of people pointing out that the premise was severely flawed.

I’ll be keeping the details to a minimum to keep the explanation streamlined.

The traditional songwriter and publisher agreement splits mechanical royalties fifty-fifty with fifty percent paid to the songwriter and fifty percent paid to the publisher.  Straightforward and simple.

The traditional recording artist agreement is considerably more complicated for many reasons, most of which are tied to upfront costs underwritten by the label which must be recouped by the label before the recording artist sees a profit.  When all is said and done, recording artists generally negotiate a royalty of between ten and twenty-five percent.

The traditional singer-songwriter recording artist agreement has a controlled composition clause because the traditional songwriter and publisher clause isn’t a recoupable expense (meaning the label can’t deduct expenses from those royalties because they aren’t the label’s royalties to deduct from).

There are performance royalties that are under the watchful eyes of performing rights associations in every country … provided the song is properly registered and provided that the song plays in certain specific situations.  For example, a theme song written for a college radio station isn’t going to garner the songwriter any royalties at all.  But generally speaking, most places where music is played or heard have paid to have a licensing fee that grants them permission to play music on location (and where said royalties are paid out to the copyright owners).

Of course, Internet music and streaming services get away with paying next to nothing for the music they serve up to consumers.

Prince signed on with Warner Bros. Records when he was 19 (back in early 1976).  He split from Warner Bros. Records when he was 40 (back in 1998) and signed with Arista Records in 1999.  Warner Bros. Records retains their part of the copyrights to Prince’s music that was recorded between 1976 and 1998 (as was their right).

In 2000, Prince’s publishing contract with Warner/Chappel expired, and the music he wrote after the expiry of his publishing contract was no longer tied to Warner Bros. in any way.

Four years later, in 2005, Prince signed with Universal Records.

Fast forward to early 2014, and not only did Prince regain full copyright ownership to his music that had been with Warner Bros. Records, but he signed back on with the label.  The Copyright Revision Act of 1976 established a clause for termination of master recording copyright, and Prince was in possession of a hundred percent of his music that had previously been with Warner Bros. Records.

Prince didn’t regain control of his catalogue because of courtroom wranglings between his legal team and Warner Bros. Records’s legal team.  He regained control of his catalogue thanks to a legal determination made with regards to the Copyright Act.

Now that Prince has passed, royalties will be paid to his estate.

Contrary to what some conspiracy theorists are claiming, the royalties don’t re-revert to Warner Bros. Records. Claiming that Warner Bros. Records put out a hit on Prince so they could get that revenue stream back under their control is not only ridiculous, but not legally possible.

Perhaps it’s time people learned to just leave people alone when they pass, and stop trying to create hysterical conspiracy theories about why they died.  I’d be willing to bet that Prince would have appreciated a quieter send-off than the one created by those who like to spin tall tales.

Elyse Bruce











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