LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In this social media age, Twitter followers can be a sign of popularity, clout, and even affect one’s bottom-line.
So, boosting that number can be a pretty big deal.
In fact, sites are popping up to help the follower challenged or those who don’t think a few million is enough.
A test account was set up by CBS2/KCAL9 and within two weeks had 2,800 followers for a fee of $43: accounts that were also following two-time Super Bowl champion Ray Lewis.
He wasn’t the only champ on the list, so was motorcycle great Max Biaggi and journalists like ESPN reporter Britt McHenry.
“This is rampant. Everyone is doing it. It’s a combination of, I would say celebrities, but mostly it’s the people their agents. It’s their publicists,” said Jessica Naziri, a tech expert.
Naziri says, with so much focus on social media, even stars feel the pressure to keep up with the Kardashians.
“It feeds the ego,” she said. “Second, you’re more relevant and it’s a way for brands and people to really show that they’re important, getting clicks and also noticeable.”
Naziri says, that’s why websites promising to kick-start one’s social media, are as prevalent as bragging on a Facebook feed.
“You can grow your following overnight,” she said. “It’s a matter of just how much you wanna pay and how much you are willing to spend to make yourself seem important.”
It’s more than just followers for sale. Those who want retweets and favorites can get 100 per day for about $19.
Users can even have someone popular on Twitter mention them, which will cost between $40 to $400 depending on the social reach of the account.
Presidential candidates cannot buy votes but are they buying followers? So-called ghost accounts are all over the campaign trail. Headlines ask: Which presidential candidates have the most fake Twitter followers?
According to Vocativ.com’s analysis, it’s Hillary Clinton.
“Social media sites should do a better job at cracking down on fake followers,” Naziri said.
Sites are fighting back. A year ago, Instagram purged inactive and bot accounts.
The result? Justin Bieber lost 3.5 million followers in what was hashtagged the #instapurge.
“So many celebrities were embarrassed as a result of that. There were even some talks about some different athletes and celebrities losing deals as a result of having less followers overnight,” Naziri said.
That could be why an app now exists for those who want to spot fakes.
The test account that had been set up for this story received a thumbs-down on TwitterAudit.com with only three real followers.
“I would say absolutely do not buy fake followers,” said Naziri.
It is important to point out that Naziri says not all fake followers are purchased. Sometimes companies have robots that fake follow people in hopes that they will follow them back so they can spam them.
The bottom line?
In the world of Internet fame, follows aren’t always really what they seem.