I find myself between a rock and a hard place today. The rock being my boyfriend @Real_Maverick and the hard place filled with fond acquaintances @KirstyBisset, @BarryTuck and @GorillaCM. Do I protect the latter or back the former? Do I stay “Swiss”? After reading the 2OceansVibe blog post this morning, I have opted to let the cat out of the bag. Even if they are my friends … probably soon to be former friends, I’m prepared to accept that fall out in order to have my integrity intact.
People who know me well will tell you that I am very forthright and have a penchant for honest and trustworthy people. My only apology will come now, and that is to say, I’m sorry it was you, guys. In an industry where lying is so rife and no-one (and I mean no-one) protects the consumer or the companies who pay people in this new social sphere to spread information, endorse products and give them virtual coverage, I’m sorry I am the thorn in your side.
Just so there is no confusion on this: After the breaking news on Friday of fakers.statuspeople.com releasing a new application that could tell whether followers were fake, inactive and good ... @Real_Maverick (Graeme) broke the twitter whispers with this tweet:
With all three of the abovementioned accounts averaging about 70% fake followers on the algorithm, Twitter exploded with accusations and defensive tweets for much of the afternoon. When GorillaCM admitted to buying followers, they proved the algorithm was in working order. With none of the previously and subsequently tested accounts measuring anywhere close to these figures, Graeme felt comfortable to put out that tweet.
@Real_Maverick (Graeme) and I are dating so I have been following the unfolding of this entire saga very closely. I own a small marketing agency and I worked with GorillaCM on various projects in 2011 and have shared special occasions, milestones, tears and many laughs with Kirsty and the Gorilla crew so I can assure you that I am beyond mortified that it is them who has come under the spotlight … but there you have it. Many will say it's a publicity stunt for my own agency and that's fine. I cannot find even one, related, scenario to share the spotlight with. Graeme and I spoke at length about approaching them in private but, as is his nature, no-one gets special concessions. Calling out some and protecting others is disingenuous and not an option for him. I respect that about him. What you see is what you get.
When I heard they probably bought their followers, I was shell shocked. I kept waiting for a plausible explanation to emerge but the evidence was just deafening. Barry and Kirsty claiming not to care about who their followers are and how many they had, was a very poor excuse. When you’re in the marketing game, it’s your JOB to care. When people pay you to promote products/events, it’s your JOB to care. Hells bells, when you get a sudden surcharge of 3000 followers, surely you look deeper. I don’t know anyone who just goes – oh well – what luck!
You can find a whole PR piece here on Gorilla’s FB page. As a brand agency I think it is their professional obligation to know the rules and regulations about twitter. Their accounts and those of their client could have been permanently suspended. “We were testing it” was ignorant. Testing this out was not supposed to even be an option for GorillaCM.
The full version of what has been posted below can be found here.
Spam and Abuse
Twitter strives to protect its users from spam and abuse. Technical abuse and user abuse is not tolerated on Twitter.com, and will result in permanent suspension. Any accounts engaging in the activities specified below are subject to permanent suspension.
· If you have attempted to "sell" followers, particularly through tactics considered aggressive following or follower churn;
· Creating or purchasing accounts in order to gain followers;
· Using or promoting third-party sites that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising "more followers fast," or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account);
In a nutshell, it looks like a home run to state that GorillaCM, KirstyBisset and BarryTuck bought followers. Gorilla, have already, said they bought them. If Kirsty and Barry didn’t, then someone bought them on their behalf. There are no two ways about it.
Only GorillaCM has some movement in terms of deleting followers, but only in August. Not in April when they did their biggest purchase.
Using twittercounter.com, anyone can go do and see what I have just done.
Let’s start with Kirsty:
Kirsty’s first influx of followers occurred on the 2nd March and increased by approximately 190 per day until the 16th March. So over 2 weeks her follower count went from 4751 – 7406. This did not happen on one day. Adding bought followers, incrementally, so as not to attract attention is an offered service.
Then on the 25th April another block was added. This time over 5 days, 265 per day, taking her follower count another 1000 or so up. Now sitting at 8500 roughly.
I’m prepared to accept that Kirsty did not buy her followers but I can tell you it looks real bad from here. It is exactly how follower buying apparently happens and if she didn’t – she surely noticed someone had bestowed a gift on her? How many of you can honestly say you would not have investigated if it happened to you? Seriously?
Then onto Barry:
On the 9th March Barry had a one day surge of around 2800 new followers taking his count from 5500 up to roughly 8400.
Then on the 26th April another surge of 1300 followers.
I’m going to have to say that as a dating couple; hopefully they would have spoken about this amazing turn of events making them super popular overnight, at about the same time. Perhaps they were targeted together by someone buying them followers? Perhaps it’s a massive conspiracy?
Lesson learnt hard here – if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck AND quacks like a duck, you’ve been bought.
Second last – GorillaCM:
Now I have to openly state that Gorilla have admitted to buying followers and regardless of how insanely stupid it was, there are still some inconsistencies with their story.
25th April *gasp* Gorilla had a spike of overnight followers of 16 088 followers taking them from about 3500 to 19508!
Between then and 1st of August (3 months with no blog post) it dropped down to 16 547.
Then there seemed to be a culling exercise taking them down to just under 10k in the following two weeks. Then back up to just under 16k before the big bust took place on the 17th August 2012.
They are now back down to their approximately 3600 as of this past weekend having enjoyed the image of having over 15 000 followers during a big business growth time in their agency life when in fact they were at 3500 in real terms. What was wrong with 3500 legit followers? I think it’s a milestone most companies would die to achieve. Saying they had no intention of keeping the followers is a moot point since they did keep them, for a substantial period of time without any disclaimer. Any potential client would have looked at those stats and been impressed. Wrongfully impressed.
NissanNavaraSA is last, but certainly not least:
It looks to me that Nissan is what started this entire spree. Gorilla mentioned that clients have asked about buying followers and perhaps Nissan was that account. Their first surge in followers was from the 1st March – 15th March. Same time that Kirsty and Barry got their fake followers. Took them, in two weeks, from 350 followers to 3500 followers! I am not sure if Gorilla was managing that account during that time, but it looks real bad – once again.
It also explains that even though they have culled their followers right back from 4000 to just under 900 that it still registers 45% fake.
There are the screenshots and links etc – go have a look yourself and make up your own mind. The more popular a brand/personality becomes, the more in the spotlight they are. Make sure your noses are squeaky clean folks.
Detective … over and out!
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