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Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs?

By: Guest | September 18, 2012 | 
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Acevero

Today’s guest post is by Stacey Acevero

It may be something we never detect or notice while we’re on Twitter – but it’s very prevalent: Fake followers.

As communications professionals, we try to place emphasis on the quality of our networks, rather than the quantity, but what is it about those follower numbers that makes us feel so good?

Be wary professionals…fake social media accounts are increasing and if you’re not careful, they can diminish your credibility and destroy your social media high.

The folks over at StatusPeople, home of the Fake Follower Tool, recently shared some shocking stats. Did you know 71 percent of Lady Gaga’s 29 million followers on Twitter are fake or inactive?

So are 70 percent of President Obama’s nearly 19 million followers. With Twitter having more than 500 million registered users, could it be that less than half of those users are active while more than half are fake?

Pretty scary, considering Twitter has become the networking, information, and search engine of choice for many business professionals.

Building Your Social Networks

There used to be a time where I’d find people in my industry on Twitter and get giddy when I saw they had hundreds of thousands of followers. “Wow, this must be an influencer,” I’d think, and *click* went the follow button. Today, this is not the case. Now I determine who is “important” by what they say, when they say it, and through my own analysis.

Let’s get this part out of the way. Don’t buy twitter followers, okay? DON’T DO IT. Why? What’s the harm? To borrow a phrase from Peter Shankman, A KITTEN DIES EVERY TIME YOU BUY FAKE FOLLOWERS. I shouldn’t be typing in all caps here, but I’m going to break that rule for the sake of Twitterkind. Maybe it’s not that extreme, but it’s certainly tarnishing your brand and dwindling the platform that we are banking so much on (social media strategy and budget, anyone?).

Starting from scratch on social media can be daunting, yes. But I guarantee building your networks organically will be much more valuable in the long run than buying followers to raise your clout (or Klout) in the online sphere. The result will be a tightly knit, engaged network that is willing to advocate for your business and be brand ambassadors – no spambot does that.

Social media makes it easy – perhaps, too easy – to find new “people,” so we need to get into the habit of thinking twice when we do our metrics or look at our community numbers to protect the value of social media for business moving forward.

If you don’t buy fake followers, there’s still a good chance you have a few of them trolling your account. Do yourself a favor and look at the people following you on Twitter. If their profile picture is an egg, block them. If they are following thousands of people and only have one tweet, block them. If a profile doesn’t have a bio, then examine them more closely.

Getting Rid of the Fakes

If this is way too much of a manual process for you, following are a few apps that can help manage your followers:

  • StatusPeople can get you started by showing you how many of your followers are good, inactive, or fake.
  • Check out ManageFlitter, which lets you unfollow inactive users, or users who haven’t tweeted in six months.

The most proactive thing you can do is to take a look at the end of each day (or week) who has followed you, and do a three-second investigation on each. If they look real – cool. If there’s the slightest doubt that they’re fake, inactive, or spammy, then block or report them for spam.

Facebook has also recently revealed that 83 million of their 900 million active users are fake accounts. No bueno. Maybe not a cause for worldwide panic, but for communicators like us using social media platforms for PR or marketing, it’s definitely reason to mind our accounts closely and take the time to get to know our users and weed out the fillers. Your community will reward you and your social media efforts will improve as a result.

Stacey Acevero is the social media manager at Vocus. You can find her scouring Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn every day, creating content about PR, small business marketing, SEO, social media and marketing. Follow her on Twitter at sacevero.

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89 Comments on "Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs?"

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sacevero
sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Thank you Gini! <3

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 10 months ago

@sacevero LOVE the photo you provided for the blog post. You’re so pretty.

sacevero
sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Sheesh, thanks 🙂 Nothing a little airbrushing can’t fix haha.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 10 months ago

@sacevero Puh-lease! Gorgeous!

ljcrest
ljcrest
3 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich @sacevero Ditto! 😉

JennyQ
JennyQ
3 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Great article! Thanks for sharing 🙂

jasonkonopinski
3 years 10 months ago

I know that a small percentage of my followers are either bots, spammers or inactive, but I don’t pay them much mind. They’ll drop off and I’m certainly not focused on those counts. 🙂 

John_Trader1
John_Trader1
3 years 10 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski I’m secretly a bot Jason. I just look human.

jasonkonopinski
3 years 10 months ago

 @John_Trader1 That’s okay, I’m really a 70 year old Jewish woman named Maude with bursitis. 

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski  I knew it! 

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @John_Trader1  I’m glad I know better than this :p 

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski That’s a good philosophy to have. I definitely don’t think you need to be consumed by a few fake followers – just make sure the majority isn’t 🙂 

JacobNordby
JacobNordby
3 years 10 months ago

yeah! that’s good RT> @JennyQ look what I found… 😉 Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? by @sacevero http://t.co/GnONLabi

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 10 months ago

I personally know someone, (who shall remain genderless and otherwise unrecognizable) who doesn’t check their followers, and sometimes retweets things these spammy followers tweet. One day, they RT’ed a porn bot. *That’s* why it’s important to at least click on any new followers to ensure there isn’t something potentially embarrassing looming. If it’s bad, block. 

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @belllindsay Oh my. A bit embarassing to say the least. 

StaceyHood
StaceyHood
3 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Wow, @sacevero is quite lovely & nice name also!

sacevero
sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

@StaceyHood Haha thanks! Nice to meet you Stacey.

StaceyHood
StaceyHood
3 years 10 months ago

@sacevero You’re welcome & nice to meet you as well!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 10 months ago

@StaceyHood Isn’t she? @sacevero

StaceyHood
StaceyHood
3 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich @sacevero Yes, very much so.

magriebler
magriebler
3 years 10 months ago

I absolutely agree that checking the authenticity of your new followers should be part of your daily (or at least weekly) routine. Just add it to the list: floss; drink coffee; go for a run; block spammers. Seems like a small thing to do, but ultimately it is your reputation that’s on the line. And as they love to say in those MasterCard ads, that’s priceless.

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @magriebler It seems like a lot of checking and rechecking, but I absolutely agree – once you make it part of a routine, it’s easier. 

allenmireles
3 years 10 months ago

I think the fake Follower Tool is awesome and was so pleased to see you included that in your post, Stacey. I find myself wondering about the inactives though. I spent a couple years lurking in social media and on Twitter before I felt really comfortable about being too talky. I wonder how many inactives, or lurkers, are reading every word but not yet ready to comment?

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @allenmireles My inkling is quite a few. I was a lurker at one time too, constantly reading and devouring and rather than engaging. Inactive doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad followers, I guess is the takeaway from this (which is why I stress observing the tweet streams of people who follow you). It’s easy to spot “empty accounts” versus accounts which just update less frequently than we may be used to. 

Ari Herzog
3 years 10 months ago

According to the StatusPeople app, 0% of my followers are fake. But I have routinely deleted the eggheads and their ilk from following me.

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @Ari Herzog Interesting – so the app isn’t completely flawless. Good to note. I like to keep these things in mind…especially if at one point my followers come up 97% fake, I can take that with a grain of salt. 

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[…] original post here: Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? By @sacevero | Spin … This entry was posted in Facebook News by 99Covers Team. Bookmark the […]

barrettrossie
3 years 10 months ago

I love the ones who have 100,000 followers, follow just 47 people, then follow me. Then when I follow them back… they unfollow me. So now they still follow just 47, but they now they have 100,001 followers. 
 
Twitter games are so much fun, I just hope I can win one day 🙂 

barrettrossie
3 years 10 months ago

I love the ones who have 100,000 followers, follow just 47 people, then follow me. Then when I follow them back… they unfollow me. So they still follow just 47, but they now they have 100,001 followers. 
 
Twitter games are so much fun, I sure hope I win one of these days. 🙂 

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @barrettrossie No kidding. I find that frustrating…I mean, it’s tough to keep up with people once you start following in the thousands (my tweetdeck is constantly scrolling) BUT but for me it is a more valid experience as I am constantly discovering people in the industry. I combat this by compiling Twitter lists segmented by subjects. I’m sure that person could do the same…but prefers not to. 

bowden2bowden
bowden2bowden
3 years 10 months ago

a great post don’t you think @JasminRez, I is tweepi to clean my stream (@ginidietrich)

JasminRez
JasminRez
3 years 10 months ago

@bowden2bowden (@ginidietrich) Great indeed! Jaja I got my eyes peeled too..this is about engaging not just having another number list!

ShiCooks
ShiCooks
3 years 10 months ago

Getting rid of your fake followers with these easy tools by @sacevero http://t.co/7G5luYxB || RT @ginidietrich @delwilliams

JoeHefferon
JoeHefferon
3 years 10 months ago

Great job Stacey.  Keep the expose’s coming.

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @JoeHefferon Thanks for reading! 

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[…] Stacey Acevero posts “Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs?” at Spin Sucks. […]

abdallahalhakim
3 years 10 months ago
For my personal twitter – I have always taken the position of following people that I am interested in reading their tweets or links to articles. I have not been obsessing with my number of followers because that was not my intention of using twitter. Having said that, my follower number have grown albeit slowly over the past couple of years. I have also started using Engagio to manage my social conversations and build relationships. Engagio has a unique way of building your contact list and it is based on people you ‘conversed’ with – it is not as easy to… Read more »
sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @abdallahalhakim Interesting – I will have to check Engagio out. I’d rather grow a network slowly and organically then obsess over numbers as well. 

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 10 months ago

@JoselinMane @sacevero @geec0 @Spinsucks apparently 70% of @ladygaga’s followers are fake. @mashable’s numbers are high as well

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 10 months ago

@JoselinMane @sacevero @geec0 @spinsucks oops, apparently those are already in the article; perhaps correlation btwn high volume/high bots

engagio
engagio
3 years 10 months ago

.@geoffliving @sacevero @ginidietrich another reason why conversations is a strong social gesture that leads to authentic relationships

geoffliving
geoffliving
3 years 10 months ago

@engagio You mean talk to each other? LOL, social is a relational media…

abdallahalhakim
abdallahalhakim
3 years 10 months ago

@geoffliving IMHO commenting whether it is thru twitter, FB, Disqus or others networks is a good step in building relationships cc @engagio

geoffliving
geoffliving
3 years 10 months ago

@abdallahalhakim @engagio face to face is the best!

abdallahalhakim
abdallahalhakim
3 years 10 months ago

@geoffliving +100 – that is my favourite mode of interaction but online conversations can setup future face-to-face meeting cc @engagio

ThePapaPost
ThePapaPost
3 years 10 months ago

@JoselinMane @sacevero @geec0 How about faking it long enough?

arianegriffiths
arianegriffiths
3 years 10 months ago

@larawellman WHY?!? makes no sense.. What do u get out of it? I grew my biz/friend circle w/new followers but fakes wouldn’t have done that

larawellman
larawellman
3 years 10 months ago

@arianegriffiths I think people think it makes them look more influential. They probably would never think to use twitter the way we do

arianegriffiths
arianegriffiths
3 years 10 months ago

@larawellman stupid… Anyone with any brains (and actually uses twitter) knows theyre fake.. Causes more damage IMO

larawellman
larawellman
3 years 10 months ago

@MishkaOttawa I’m going to check numbers when not on phone but I def have a lot of eggs

Integra_Flex
Integra_Flex
3 years 10 months ago

@bdorman264 @ginidietrich I’d say for starters, a diluted brand.

rdopping
rdopping
3 years 10 months ago
Twitter is hilarious.   During a normal week I go up and down by 10+ followers. I guess people follow and if I am not interested in their “thing” I don’t follow back and then invariably they unfollow me. Must I ALWAYS reciprocate?   Oh dear, I didn’t even consider that my tweets might be crap!?! Naaaaa……just ask @ginidietrich  she’ll vouch for me.   I like your suggestions and I actually have been checking out my followers up to now. I hopefully have deleted the ones that fit the profile of spammers or bots or whatever. Don’t want too many.… Read more »
sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @rdopping  Appreciate the comment. I don’t think it’s necessary to always reciprocate a follow – especially if their tweet stream doesn’t identify with what you’re interested in. 

larawellman
larawellman
3 years 10 months ago

@mishkaottawa 1% fake and 5% innactive. not bad actually! 🙂

MishkaOttawa
MishkaOttawa
3 years 10 months ago

@larawellman that’s pretty good

Frank_Strong
3 years 10 months ago

Amen, Stacey!  

billrundle
billrundle
3 years 10 months ago

@julielandry haha ‘a kitten dies every time you buy fake followers’ #amen

sacevero
sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

@indiraabidin Thanks for the tweet 🙂 Haha happy to see you are real.

Ivo_64
Ivo_64
3 years 10 months ago

@analyticus @sacevero Thank you for the kind Retweet Cees. Have a good Day, i.

sacevero
sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

@NancyCawleyJean Thanks Nancy!

NancyCawleyJean
NancyCawleyJean
3 years 10 months ago

@sacevero My pleasure! Loved the post. Great to connect with you too!

Maryloucprxwmyq
Maryloucprxwmyq
3 years 10 months ago
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[…] Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? (spinsucks.com) […]

trackback
3 years 10 months ago

[…] Sadly, social media platforms like Twitter are full of fake users and they’re altering your numbers.  Spin Sucks shared a great article that examines Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? […]

MarketngTidbits
MarketngTidbits
3 years 10 months ago

@efeher – thanks for the RT, Eszter! Hope you have a great weekend!

MarketngTidbits
MarketngTidbits
3 years 10 months ago

@nomenuk – I appreciate the RT!!

LHnow
LHnow
3 years 10 months ago

Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? http://t.co/0nN2StS0 #SM RT @NomenUK

NomenUK
NomenUK
3 years 10 months ago

@LHnow Thanks for the RT! Have a great weekend 🙂

leon dubash
3 years 10 months ago

Great thread, it was a brilliant read.
http://www.ebizsubmit.com/

TedRubin
TedRubin
3 years 10 months ago

@JohnNosta Thanks for the RT buddy!

TedRubin
TedRubin
3 years 10 months ago

@EricTTung Thanks buddy!

EricTTung
EricTTung
3 years 10 months ago

@TedRubin NP!

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[…] Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? (spinsucks.com) […]

JohnLusher
JohnLusher
3 years 10 months ago

@functionasone WOOP! Happy you liked! @faking @sacevero

ryancox
ryancox
3 years 10 months ago

I just ran Stacey’s score, and it returned 34% fake 42% inactive 24% good. Sheesh Ace, didn’t know you were faking it so much!

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @ryancox Here comes that troublemaker Ryan again :p Statuspeople report for @sacevero: Fake 1% Inactive 7% Good 92% … for @ryaneecox … Fake 2% Inactive 9% Good 89% – you know, both of those are excellent. 

ryancox
ryancox
3 years 10 months ago

 @sacevero  @ryaneecox I’m not getting the same report. Your metrics are off. #Acefaked lmao

Frank_Strong
3 years 10 months ago

 @ryancox  Ryan, I just ran her account and got the same stats Stacey did.  Of course anyone listening can run their own test and see for themselves and see there’s not much to fuss over. However, since she works for me I’d add, I can tell you first hand there isn’t anything fake about Stacey.  She’s the best social media manager anyone could ask for and works her heart out for the team. @sacevero 

ryancox
ryancox
3 years 10 months ago

 @Frank_Strong  @sacevero Frank I was just giving a friend a hard time! lol No worries! (sorry for any confusion)

Frank_Strong
3 years 10 months ago

 @ryancox I see.  Could not discern that from the chatter here.  I can take hits; but one thing that makes horns grow out of my head is picking on my team.  It’s a strength and a weakness. Besides, I was thinking to myself, how can anyone possibly want to pick on Ace?  @sacevero 

sacevero
3 years 10 months ago

 @Frank_Strong  <— Best. Boss. Ever. @ryancox You’re lucky you’re an actual friend :p 

ryancox
ryancox
3 years 10 months ago

 @sacevero  @Frank_Strong It was a bad attempt at giving my friend Stacey a little grief. I thought my tone, albeit odd choice to some, was 100% clear I was joshing with a friend. I didn’t mean to give anyone a thought that what I was saying wasn’t just friends picking on friends. Stacey is total legit. Sorry for the confusion, it was (in hindsight) poor taste on my part.

Frank_Strong
3 years 10 months ago

 @ryancox  No worries brother. @sacevero 

Tinu
3 years 9 months ago
It’s absolutely true that fake followers are the top level of a cascading avalanche of failure.  If you have fake or inactive followers, they can’t or won’t respond to your content. That will throw your numbers off.  And I say that from years of testing what the RESULTS of these actions are rather than passing a morality-based judgement — it just doesn’t work to have more followers than the action on what you share can back up. But given than even the official Twitter account has 33% fake or inactive folllowers, it makes me wonder how scientific this method of measuring… Read more »
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[…] Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? (spinsucks.com) […]

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[…] Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? (spinsucks.com) […]

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[…] September 18th post by Stacey Acevero explored an issue that really irks me. Fakes and cheaters. Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? illustrates how fakers are undermining social media’s credibility, and why building a network of […]

ltcassociates
ltcassociates
3 years 5 months ago
For what it’s worth, StatusPeople (the site referenced in this article), is what I would call “Not Ready for Prime Time”. It does not deliver consistent, accurate results, and considering the Salem Witch Trials which ensue from using its product, arguably should be tabled until they can produce a verifiable output.   I have notified the company repeatedly about specific issues (after several weeks, they informed me that their “customer feedback form” went straight into “junk mail”), before finally contacting them via Facebook. Although they are now aware of the problem, they have never remedied it, nor published any statement… Read more »
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