Fractionalization of media can reach a new level of panic for content providers — pretending to be bigger and more popular than you are.
According to a New York Times story, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper was one several prominent journalists, sports stars, politicians and celebrities who paid to increase their Twitter followers with fake accounts.
Roeper's Twitter following currently numbers over 225,000. It was not revealed in the Times story how many of those followers are fake.
In a world where social media metrics are becoming indicators of popularity, they take on a new level of importance. This would also include views on YouTube and other digital media platforms. Fake accounts will remain an option for disreputable providers.
Heightening news about anything resembling “fake” on digital media makes traditional advertisers incredibly leery. We have heard about this before -- when it comes to bots, digital troll farms and other nefarious digital tools hoping to scam big advertising brands.
One result? For the last two years, to some extent, name-brand video advertisers returned to traditional TV from digital video platforms.
Now individual writers/producers, pressured by their content bosses to show higher social-media activity, may have imitated Roeper. In the near term, writing value, for some, can be measured by specific algorithm metrics. But what about real impact and influence? That isn’t always clear.
TV networks have Nielsen TV ratings -- like it or not -- to measure viewership. No doubt many TV networks would love to see higher data. That's especially true now, when virtually all TV networks are seeing erosion for live -- or nearly live -- viewing.
TV networks now also tout social media metrics as a way to conduct better research -- helping to renew or cancel a TV show, or to show viewer engagement. But all this comes with the need for increased transparency.
Can you "buy" your TV audience? Or get "fake" TV viewers or trick research services to foster better results? Rogue digital video fringe players may think this is possible.
Decades ago, you could find some TV program distributors doing just that -- looking for weak seams in traditional TV viewing measurement systems.
Today, better TV interest and value is out there. You just need to work harder to find it.