...but it can buy you followers. For a few quid you can make yourself look like the most insecure and boring person in the room.
Admitting you had a penis extension is mildly less embarrassing.
Imagine walking into a party with a whole group of hangers on...who then completely and utterly blank you for the entire evening. That's what it's like when you have an army of fake followers.
You post an image to Instagram...and of your 10,000+ followers only 30 actually 'like' it? Only 3 of your 12,000 Twitter followers actually bother to retweet you? Your content appears boring and unengaging. Which, to be fair, it probably is...hence the need to buy followers rather than have enough faith in your work that your followers will continue to rise organically.
Actually, you can't buy followers. It's semantics. All you can buy are the numbers. Followers interact with you. They 'like' your content, or read what you write, follow your links or retweet you or even actually respond.
The silent army you just bought just sits there ignoring you. They don't even bother reading what you wrote. Why? Because they don't fucking exist. Except in your head.
Maybe as a kid you had an imaginary friend. And now that you're all grown up you just bought yourself 10,000 imaginary friends. Way to go.
And as soon as word gets around that you've had to buy yourself some attention, your social media standing actually degenerates. How can clients trust you when your public persona is a cheap lie? What does it say about your ego vs your integrity?
It's not illegal, it's not real life...it's just a little bit unethical and a lot bit wanky.
There are online tools which flag up how many of somebody's followers are likely to be fake - certainly for Twitter - and they're fairly accurate.
Status People is one tool - and it's kinda addictive. It spews out a simple traffic light assessment. Mine's below. And also an example of somebody shopping at Rent-A-Friend.
No such tool for Instagram that I've come across, but generally fake accounts across any social network are easy to spot - unlikely usernames following lots of people with no posts of their own and very few followers themselves.
You can actually buy fake followers for any account...meaning it can be used as a social media 'weapon'. I know of at least one instance of somebody being bought 30,000 fake followers just so a rival could 'out' them as having fake followers...and removing them is a manual bitch.
So - any upsides? Well, yes. That's why people do it. Most people don't bother to ever question somebody's level of social media clout, so the greater the number the more impressive it looks at a casual glance. It looks like that person actually knows what they're on about.
People who've bought themselves an army look like 'da man/bomb/shit (whatever)'. It's actually the opposite - they're usually clueless or insecure or just plain dull…which is why they need to buy their followers in the first place…
Now - follow me below on Twitter and Instagram. Please.