Buying followers on social media platforms is big business. Many celebrities, social influencers, and event marketing companies buy followers to increase their clout on social media. While this practice lies in a gray area of law, many, including Results Repeat, believe that it’s firmly on the wrong side of ethics.
The New York Times recently released an in-depth investigative piece on one of the largest companies in the world that deals in selling followers and bots that “fake” social media activity. Devumi, a self-proclaimed social media marketing firm, touts its ability to “accelerate social growth” and “quickly gain followers, likes, views, and more” on its website. The Times began to delve into what Devumi offers and exactly how these new followers appear. By reviewing several social media accounts belonging to a mix of high-profile people, they discovered large numbers of followers that appeared to be fake. Upon further investigation, it was determined these high-profile users had either personally purchased or their associates had purchased followers from Devumi.
People and companies want to increase their followers or influence in order to make themselves more marketable and relevant. Sometimes, celebrities get into agreements that depend on their number of followers on social media or that are enhanced by this number. As an example, one such case The Times discovered is Kathy Ireland, the former swimsuit model and current entrepreneur. With more than a million followers, Ireland uses this influence to promote her brands and partnerships. However, the article revealed that only about 160,000 followers were actual people and not fake accounts or bots.
Fake accounts are often modeled after legitimate ones. Those responsible for creating fake social media accounts pirate images and information from real users and change just one character in a username. This makes the account look real, but upon further inspection, the posts by the fake account sell it out as bought and paid for. But fake accounts aren’t the only issue when it comes to buying social media services. Companies like Devumi also offer the option to purchase bots which will repost or retweet a person’s social media post for influence.
The Times article also found that it’s not just individuals or their associates who participate in buying followers or influence. Public relations and marketing firms are also in the business of buying likes and followers for their clients. In our experience, clients don’t think to question the quick addition of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of new likes. More than ever, you must know who you’re getting into business with, understand their practices, and question anything that doesn’t add up. For example, if you just got 1,000 Likes for $500, chances are they are fake accounts.
In today’s world, where someone’s market value can be so closely related to their social media presence and following, participating in shady activities like paying for followers can seem unavoidable. However, practices like this are unethical. Using best practices to gain social media traction and following is the only way to truly achieve the goal of being relevant and revered.
As always, if you have any questions, we’re here to help.