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Buying and selling social media followers has become big business in recent months. In November 2013, I shared statistics from a number of studies as well as an infographic filled with information about fake followers and the illusion of authority and influence online.Did you know that there were 20 million fake Twitter accounts for sale during the summer of 2013? That equates to 9% of Twitter's total active users, and it's just one of the statistics you'll find in the Appearance of Social Media infographic by following the preceding link.Now, Who Is Hosting This? has released another infographic filled with information that answers the question, "Should you buy your way to social media fame?" You can check out the infographic below. Here are some highlights:

  • The top Twitter personalities have just 30% real followers on average. The rest are fake or inactive.
  • The average price of a fake Twitter follower is $0.01 or $10 for 1,000 followers.
  • There are approximately 83 million fake Facebook accounts.
  • You'll pay an average of $600 for 20,000 fake likes on Facebook.
  • 10,000 Tumblr followers will cost you $484.
  • Pinterest followers are a bargain at $75 for 5,000 followers.

The infographic also offers some data and tips to help you identify fake social media accounts and followers:

  • On average, a fake Twitter account follows 1,800 people and has 48,000 followers.
  • On average, fake Twitter accounts are 5 months old.
  • Fake Twitter accounts have very little interaction, a lot of duplicate posts, and a lot of promotional posts.
  • Fake Twitter accounts (and a lot of their followers) typically have the default Twitter egg avatar.
  • Fake Facebook accounts usually have a lot of likes but very little user activity aside from those likes.
  • Most fake Facebook accounts are set up as females (97%) but a much smaller number (40%) of Facebook's real users are women.

For Authoritative Content publishers, the lesson is simple. Focus on building quality followers by publishing quality content. Don't pay for followers and don't worry about how many followers your competitors have. It's highly likely that many of those followers are fake.If you're consistent in the quality of your content and conversations, you'll build a sustainable audience of followers organically. That's the type of following that will support you for the long-haul, and that's what you need in order to be a successful content publisher today.Image: cherrychil

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