How many followers do you have on Twitter? To those of us who use the platform, this is often (not always) a source of angst as we seek to grow our so called 'influence' across our social community. 

It's hard work growing followers - or is it? 

London and Northumbria based PR guru and industry commentator Stephen Waddington reports in his blog on an experiment he ran through the Christmas holiday period.

In it, he reports on how by creating a Twitter account (@RbotP) and by purchasing from publicly available services, he was able to add 10,000 followers and several hundred RTs of a post.    

His work highlights the very real problem of fake social media accounts and of social media manipulation. His blog references several excellent research papers that highlight the problem and potential impact of fake bots on Twitter.  It includes much useful advice and recommendations plus a well timed call to action for comms practitioners to stay on the right side of ethical codes of practice. 

The take away from this is that it's too easy to fake influence on social media. It's a problem that has to be taken seriously because as Barack Obama said, " the abuse and misuse of social media is a danger to democracy and society."  

Credit therefore to Stephen for once again spending time to highlight the problem and for providing such practical guidance.