THE BLOG
07/16/2013 09:24 pm ET Updated Sep 15, 2013

The Digital Fauxconomy: Fans, Followers & Fakes

Faux you is popular in the digital world.

For a half-cent per follower it's no wonder that Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga doesn't have a billion followers by now. It'd only cost them $5 million to be the most popular human on the planet. Of course, they'd be fake followers. Faux.

If you define fake as "inactive" or bots. I mean, can a 'bot' actually follow anything? Lacking cognizant ability, that is.

In fact, a lot of the online fan and follower game seems to be just that -- a game. Pumped up by bots purchased from an array of vendors eager to fulfill egos with tons of adoration. Even if it's faux. It's the new era equivalent of a high school popularity contest.

It's the Digital Fauxconomy. Say it fast 10 times and the meaning becomes even clearer.

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What triggered this were two things: 1) my firm's scanning of patterns across review sites that shows many of the same/similar reviews; and 2) my friend bought a "review package" from ReverbNation and he saw what he described as "questionable" reviews. Indeed, when I reviewed them, I saw what appeared to be "cut and paste" reviews among the group or reviews that had nothing to do with his actual songs.

Hey, the new benchmark for success is followers. Ask any Fortune 500 or teen. From Instagram to YouTube the game is the same. It's a half-cent to penny per. Line 'em up.

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Our analysis of web data for the top 10 most followed accounts on Twitter? Many have inactive followers, anywhere from 20 to 60 percent.

Prediction: In the future the most popular celebrity will be followed 100 percent by bots and actually be a bot. Max Headroom anyone?

Right now you can go on sites dedicated to selling "followers." For example, you can buy 10,000 followers for your Instagram account for about $75. A quick search on fiverr.com also showed some selling followers/fans there.

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This is where looking at the big picture beats looking at just one site or one review site. The patterns only emerge in looking at the landscape.

Bottom line: when looking at followers and fans for any site or brand take it all with a grain of faux.