All of Twitter’s biggest stakeholders have fake followers – a fact that, by some measures, boosts their social standing on their own site. Even the President of the United States has fake followers that enhance his digital brand. We also searched the credibility of a number of other influential CEOs, and they all had fake followers.
For a point of reference, here are a few CEOs that appear to have fake followers, but that didn’t make the list because their authentic Twitter followers outnumber their fake ones:
Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.com: 76% good
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com: 69% good
Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle: 54% good
And something else that stands out? All the individuals on the list have extremely high Klout scores. In case you’re not familiar with Klout, it’s an application that measures your social media influence. It almost seems that the higher your Klout, the more fake followers you have. Or is it the other way around?
So are celebrities and CEOs buying fake followers, or are they just convenient targets for Twitter spammers? Does the added credibility of having a lot of followers outweigh the credibility of having real followers?
Jason Weaver, CEO of Shoutlet, has publicly spoken out about the ethical and other issues of buying a following. His fake count comes in at a clean 1% – lower than that of anyone else we checked. He’s likely employing tactics to prevent fake followers from tainting his following (such as manually blocking any bots or spam accounts that follow him), but he only has 1,278 followers. If you’re Jack Dorsey, who has over half a million fake followers, you could potentially waste a lot of time weeding out the fakes. Between running Square, Inc. and sitting on the board of Twitter, I doubt he has much time to go through his Twitter followers and remove all the fake accounts.
It’s also good to note that Weaver’s Klout is only 60 – far lower than the Klout score for any of the influencers on the list above.
Influence or Authenticity?
The list of influencers we pulled together is just that: a list of influencers. Having and even buying fake followers on Twitter isn’t illegal; you could even argue that it’s inherent. No matter what you do to prevent people from gaming the system, someone always will.
Social media is redefining brand influence. Twitter is becoming as much about buying influence as traditional advertising always has been. Just as you can buy expensive TV ads during prime time or on the front page of newspapers to boost your brand image and gain views, you can buy followers on social media sites in an attempt to increase your Klout score and others’ perception of your influence. Your social credibility is your brand identity. The proliferation of fake followers among some of the most socially active and talked-about CEOs implies that social indicators count as business currency.
So is there any value in social authenticity? Definitely. But it’s certainly not as valuable as social influence.
Lisa Fugere is the Content Marketing Specialist at Radius Intelligence. For teams selling to the 26 million small businesses in the US, Radius makes sense of constantly changing, disparate Big Data to provide up-to-date, accurate and actionable business information to help you sell smarter and close faster.