Keen to win a popularity contest in your college? Want to prove you are more famous than your colleagues? On a more serious note, want to spread the word on social media about your start-up?
Go ahead, buy yourself some Twitter followers and Facebook friends.
A simple online search throws up names of several websites where one can purchase Twitter followers — buytwitterfollowers.co.in, intertwitter.com, devumi.com and fanmenow.com, to name some.
And if Facebook is where you want to increase your social footprint, try morefansforyou.com, fbviro.com or wantfans.com instead.
Going by Soumitra Dutta, dean, Samuel Curtis Johnson School of Management at Cornell University, it’s as if an all-new industry has come into vogue. “If you are the CEO of a company, it doesn’t look good if you have only 100 followers and so, you can buy twitter followers. There is a certain price... all this is giving rise to an alternative industry,” he says.
Politicians and celebrities have often been alleged to buy followers, called ‘tweeps’ in Twitter parlance. Among others, US politicians Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich and closer home, Narendra Modi, are known to have seen their Twitter followings increase exponentially in short periods.
Seth Stevenson, who bought 27,000 followers on Twitter for $202, explains in a note on a website that having a large social footprint will help “extend his influence as a journalist and bolster his personal brand”.
In rupee terms, that deal works out to just 40 paise per follower, though several websites appear to be quoting 66-75 paise per follower, with a promise that they will not ‘unfollow you’ for a year.
No wonder more and more people are choosing to buy than build it up the hard way.
But stay warned. Chances are the followers you buy aren’t real. Websites have a mix of real followers — also called “targeted followers” — and inactive or “generated followers”.