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.

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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.

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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

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2 Responses to “A Case Study: Fake Followers Can Break You”

  1. More On Fake Followers | Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] A Case Study: Fake Followers Can Break You […]

  2. When Bullies Fake Follow Themselves | Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] A Case Study: Fake Followers Can Break You […]


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