Even the already famous seem to have enjoyed an artificial boost. In August, UK social media management firm StatusPeople scanned several massively popular Twitter accounts using a service it developed called Fake Follower Check. According to StatusPeople, more than 70 percent of President Barack Obama’s 19 million Twitter followers were either fake or inactive accounts. Fake Follower Check returns roughly similar results for Mitt Romney, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber.
“It used to be the main metric of social media success for many companies was how many Likes or fans they had,” says Mike Nail, vice president of operations for the company. “But what really matters is engagement, and when you’re buying Likes to pad that number, your engagement rate actually goes down. You can’t have engagement with people who don’t exist. The real reason to use social media is to get leads, and you can’t get leads from fake people.”