New study says big brands buying fake Twitter followers

27 Apr 2013


The New York Times yesterday reported that new research by Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli claims that brands like Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz and Louis Vuitton as also as hip-hop bigwigs 50 Cent and Sean Combs, aka Diddy have been buying fake followers. This follow their findings earlier this month that $18 bought 1,000 fake Twitter followers.

The researchers based their claims on unexplained spikes in accounts 'following' and 'unfollowing' the accounts they studied that could not be explained by traditional social media campaigns.

One company, though, Pepsi, denied to the Times that it was purchasing followers.

The study uncovered a multi-million dollar underground industry trading Twitter followers. According to the researchers, the industry was worth between $40 and $360-million, making it a  proftable venture for spammers.

There are a few web apps, like Twitter Audit and Status People though, that claim to keep out possible fake followers.

From the research it became clear that bigger was best… when it came to one's following and buying followers on Twitter seems to be the name of the game at a price.

Pepsi is believed to have added 71,686 followers in only one day, while famous rapper 50 Cent lost 190342 followers in just one day last year January.

According to the report, many of these brands did not respond to requests for comments, except for Pepsi which attributed the spike to extensive advertising. A Pepsi spokesperson had been cited as saying that the strange spikes were due to ''paid activations with Twitter - such as promoted tweets - that were designed to boost our following around key brand activations.''

According to Status People, which is used to verify account followers, the massive beverage company had around 66 per cent real followers whereas the other 34 was made up of bots or fake accounts.

Such allegations concerning Twitter are not new though, and suspected reasons for buying followers were simply to feed egos or boost presence.

The researchers say the brands simply wanted to boast a decent image by showing how big their following was. Among other reasons are an increased online presence or a better SEO. The higher the clicks , the higher its results are on Google's search.

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