Faking It, Twitter Style: Fake Followers, Fans & Video Views for Digital Marketers

If you wonder how brands, politicians, celebrities or online personalities gather millions of followers on Twitter or other social sites, check out this handy infographic (below) from Mashable’s Kate Freeman.

Twitter giants often purchase fake followers to artificially inflate their numbers. Around 30% of their followers are fake, while an additional 40% are inactive accounts.

Lady GagaThink of it this way: Twitter’s top tweeter, Lady Gaga, has 28.8 million followers, but roughly 8 million are actually active or legit.

In her article, Freeman suggests Fakers, a new tool that exposes your fake followers, has pushed this issue into the spotlight.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Why does this matter to a digital marketer? When it comes to buying follows, likes, fans or video views, it’s important to understand your ultimate objective. Is it simply growth, engagement, momentum? A couple tips:

First, don’t be a sucker for cold call e-mails or agency pitches that offer to boost your Twitter followers or Facebook fans overnight. While the allure of a million-person fan base might seem hard to resist, what you truly want – a genuine connection with people in their online lives – typically happens more organically, over time. It’s largely pointless to boast big numbers if you can’t follow through with true brand engagement. Instead, develop a digital content curriculum and stick with it. In time, you’ll collect a community of dedicated fans and enthusiasts, less likely to become inactive.

Secondly, artificial growth can work to build social momentum. By activating a powerful psychological principle online, the social proof, when a certain threshold of fans/follows/views is reached: Prospective fans follow the herd. The real fans you gain as a result of the volume of paid or fake followers can help you convince some lost lambs that your brand, product or service is worth a follow or consideration. Essentially “If someone or a brand has this many people interested, then, perhaps, I’m interested too…”

Wonder how some brands gain millions of YouTube Views overnight? Bingo. The true challenge then becomes how you actively engage and respond to the real fans with relevant content and messages.

At least there may be hope for humanity, as I now can call to question Twilight’s fan base. Read Twilight Vampires Suck their Way to 1 Million Twitter Followers >

The Appearance of Social Media

P.S. Kate. Love your not-so-subtle use of Reddit rage comics.

@Twilight Vampires Suck Their Way to One Million Twitter Followers

Twilight Eclipse Edward vs JacobApparently all that glitters, sucks or sulks has proven to be Twitter gold for @Twilight, the handle for Summit Entertainment’s blockbuster vampire series.

Although the entertainment industry has long killed it in the digital and social world, the Twilight saga became the first movie franchise to surpass one million Twitter followers this month.

Keeping Your Tweenbase Happy
How’d they do it? Simple engagement techniques to keep their tweenbase happy, including “exclusive” sneak peaks of footage, new soundtrack listings, sweepstakes and savvy hashtag strategies.

According to Mashable, around the New Moon movie release, there were about 81,000 Twilight tweets per day. And, with the final installment arriving in theaters this November, fans and followers can anticipate an assortment of teasers, infobits and content.

To celebrate, Summit released a brief, and surprisingly washboard-abs-free video on YouTube to thank its loyal fans (below), and encouraged its stars to use the hashtag #Twihards4EVER to commemorate the achievement.

Perspective: The Bloody Truth
Before we give up hope for humanity, invest in garlic futures or resort to stakes through our digital-social hearts, rest assured that @Twilight doesn’t even breach the top 1,000 most followed accounts. Not by a long shot.

Top Five Tweeters (by followers)
1. Lady Gaga, 28.5 million
2. Justin Bieber, 26.8 million
3. Katie Perry, 25.2 million
4. Rihanna, 24.5 million
5. Britney Spears, 19.6 million

Even @BobVila has more followers (1.1 million), ranking in at number 969.

Follow me on Twitter: @jonbeebe

Extra Credit: If Twitter had been around in your childhood and tweens, what franchises should have reached the million followers mark first, and why? Leave a comment.