I’ve written about how to spot a faux social media influencer – those people who are apparently important, but who might not be.
I wondered how easy it would be to become one. From scratch.
It turns out, hardly at all. But I was in for a shock when I looked at how much influence that my new persona could wield.
I branched out with a new Twitter account called @DougFir_XL (geddit?).
I paid a fiver and bought him a thousand followers, made up a ridiculous profile bio (inspired by other so-called social media gurus) and started retweeting some well-known and not-so-well-known Twitter users.
My follow-back strategy was to follow those who were vaguely marketing or social media oriented, with a sprinkling of people who promised riches and other untold benefits.
With very little effort (and I mean very little), DougFir_XL had amassed 1,250 followers and started getting new followers coming his way.
Doug had every appearance of being a Twitter influencer.
Except of course, he wasn’t.
You see, nobody cares what Doug has to say. Have a look at some Twitter stats.
What does this prove? Well, some people would say it just shows how vacuous Twitter is. Others would say the experiment was flawed and just shows if you tweet boring stuff, people won’t share it.
For me, it proves the point of the last blog post. That if you gamify Twitter, you can get enough traction to appear to have influence, without actually having any. I could easily ramp Doug up to have tens of thousands of followers and start to appear on best of tables of social media gurus. He would still have zero importance.
I reckon you could get even more traction if you applied this experiment to a niche area. Say, data centre technology, activity based costing or telematics. Social media marketers would sell their nans to find people to engage with in these markets.
The message again for social media planners is to look closely at users before adding them to an influencer list. Top line data can be misleading. Context is king.
One final word. No offence is intended to anyone who Doug has retweeted or followed. I chose content more or less at random, based on a few well-known and highly regarded users. The point is endorsing things that others have already have endorsed adds very little value indeed.