Focus on Social Media the RIGHT Way

5th May 2013 No comments


In recent months countless artists have been caught using fake followers, or ‘bots,’ to boost their social media numbers.
Sadly, we have arrived at a time when the question “How many Twitter followers do you have?” holds as much weight at “How many albums have you sold?” Probably more.
For this reason, the labels, PR people, social media managers, and anyone else who has a hand in such things has resorted to buying artificial followers to give the appearance of an even larger following than most of these people actually have.
There are management companies and labels who won’t even consider checking artists out unless they have a certain number of Facebook ‘Likes’ or Twitter followers.
While, to a degree I understand using this as a criteria as those professionals would spend every hour of every day listening to out of tune guitars for an audience of 3 on a bands first night out, I also think it’s shortsighted.
The band with talent and marketability and a mere 750 Twitter followers is probably far more deserving of the A & R guy’s time than the off-key Air Supply/Vanilla Ice fusion in girl group form with 25k followers. (In the name of full disclosure, I should state that I happen to know at least one person who would *love* an Air Supply/Vanilla Ice fusion girl group. Turk, I’m talking to you.)

The entire purpose of social media is interaction and, ahem, socialisation. If you’re buying artificial followers, how can you possibly interact with your fans on any kind of genuine level?
Also, in terms of metrics, how can you realistically assess your following when thousands of your ‘followers’ are bots?
Do keep in mind, the people guilty of this are not young new artists looking to be discovered; they’re multiplatinum selling artists with millions of legitimate followers.
The pressure is on to be the person with the largest number of followers, or least near the top of the list, and with this pressure brings a new industry.
Companies now exist solely to sell fake followers to those in the market, and guess what? They’re making millions and millions of dollars. With ‘packages’ ranging from $1-$1,000 for 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers.
Recent estimates put the potential for the fake follower industry between $40-$360 million dollars per year.

While buying followers may seem a short term solution in terms of giving Lady Gaga more followers than Rhianna on a given week, long term it really serves no purpose at all.
People who are inclined to follow these artists will follow them. People not inclined to follow them won’t. People who are going to support them by way of buying music and concert tickets will do so. Others will not. Fake Twitter followers will ultimately do nothing to influence this. I can assure you, I will never follow Lady Gaga on Twitter, whether she has 132 Twitter followers or is the first person to reach one billion. She’s not my cup of tea and no number of followers, legitimate or otherwise, will change that.

After news broke last year about how many YouTube views had been falsified and Universal and Sony were stripped of over 2 billion YouTube views, companies started keeping tabs on the views, ‘Likes,’ and followers of the social media sites.
With that in mind, the following data was released showing the reality of some of Twitters biggest influencers.

As you can see, some of the biggest selling acts in the music industry are using this method of social media ‘management’ and politicians are just as guilty of it.
There was controversy during the last US Presidential election when, within a suspiciously short period of time, candidate Mitt Romney had an increase of 100,000 followers on Twitter and President Barack Obama remains close to the top of the list of accounts with the highest numbers of bot followers.

It is only fair to state that not all of those bot followers are purchased. I know from my own Twitter accounts that certain keywords and hashtags will result in follows from automated bots and when you’re dealing with millions of followers, it’s obviously going to be difficult to filter all of them.
With that in mind, the benefit of the doubt will be given with regard to some of these bots, but I don’t, for a moment, believe that all of Justin Bieber’s almost 20 million fake followers are accidental.

Ultimately, artists and their staff can buy as many computerised followers as they deem necessary. The problem still remains that a bot cannot support your career in any capacity.
Sure, it may be great to say that you have the most Twitter followers of anyone in the history of the world, but if I, as a journalist, spent enough money, I could have the most Twitter followers, on a technicality. I could tell the A & R guys to come and see me because I have 47 million followers and I haven’t even made my first record yet! Guess what? It would be true! Then, those A & R guys would turn up to an empty venue to find me with my MacBook, working on an article and laughing at the utter stupidity of their policy to check out people with a lot of followers.

Don’t lose sight of what social media is about. Engage with your fans; your real fans. If the fan base isn’t there yet, figure out why. Practice more to become better performers, become more interactive, make your Twitter and Facebook pages places your fans WANT to be.
Buying fake fans is sort of like dating the gold digger on campus. You spend and spend and spend and ultimately, the only thing you get in return is ridiculed.

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