Our reporter Go Hattori takes the plunge into the greasy underworld of buying social media followers.
Today was a banner day for Go Hattori because his alter-ego, the lovely and fashionable Ray – you know, like the sunshine – was officially declared the RocketNews24 mascot idol. However, this meant that she had to actively promote the website both in person and online.
First, Go decided to capitalize on Ray’s stunning good looks by creating an Instagram account using glamour shots of herself to stir up some interest. But if an account springs up on Instagram and no one is around to see it, does it really post an image?
It was then that Go recalled hearing about one celebrity or another being get accused of buying followers, but he never really knew how to go about it himself. A quick search online revealed several “businesses” offering such a service, but they all seemed a little shady…kind of like a convenience store selling only expired canned food while two guys stand out front eyeing everyone up.
With all this potential danger afoot, Go decided to look through the App Store, which exercises some measure of quality control. Much to his surprise he found an app that promised “1,000+ Real Followers.” It actually didn’t look any less shady that the other “providers,” especially with Elvis Presley as their spokesperson. The King had passed decades before the advent of social media.
The app was called Followers Powers and despite the curious use of plural nouns and grinning spokescorpse in dark-tinted glasses, Go felt he had reached the end of his search.
After opening the app, Go was immediately hit up for Ray’s Instagram ID and password. “Uggghh,” he thought. It was as if the smiling Elvis was straight up asking for his credit card number. Still if he was going to go through with this, Go would have to trust somebody. It might as well be the king of rock & roll.
After giving up his info, the app began to sync with Ray’s Instagram account. When the process was complete there was a big yellow button on his main page which simply read, “Get 5,000 Followers.”
That seemed awfully direct to Go. There was no mention of money or terms. Elvis was really all business in his online transactions, especially for a guy who has never heard of the Internet. Again, Go was already past the point of no return so he clicked ahead.
He was taken to a price list which started at 10 followers for US$0.99. A little ways down there was a “HOT” special on 300 followers for $19.99, marked as 30 percent off but strangely more expensive than two purchases of 150 followers ($19.98 total).
Go thought 300 followers ought to be enough to kickstart Ray’s career, but just then another “HOT” sale jumped out at him: 70 percent off 5,000 followers for $159.99.
“Screw it,” thought Go. If he was going to take the gamble of trusting cartoon Elvis, he might as well go all-in.
Go stared at the fingerprint verification to finalize the purchase. He had very little faith in this actually working, but sweet little Ray was counting on him. He couldn’t let her down.
He touched the scanner and kissed his money goodbye…
Go wasn’t really sure what to expect after that. The app was very vague on how the service would work beyond “give money, get followers.”
However, less than a minute later, it began….
One by one notifications came in that someone new had followed Ray on Instagram. All of these strangers were coming to look at beautiful Ray-chan!
They kept steadily coming in as well. It was kind of eerie though. Rather than all coming at once, they came one at a time at a rather steadfast interval. It was as if they were waiting in line to follow Ray.
Still, they were coming and that was all that mattered. Ray would get her 5,000 followers in no time! Go felt that this was like that part in the movie where the main character rises to success in a musical montage…so Go made a quick musical pseudo-montage.
Go was so moved by this outpouring of support, no matter how manufactured it was, that he decided to look up the first follower for sentimental reasons.
It was a user by the name of “hyjdfghjfd” who appeared to be a young bespectacled boy caught looking at porn on a computer. “Thank you hyjdfghjfd,” thought Go as he warmly smiled. He would have said that out loud, but he didn’t know how to pronounce, “hyjdfghjfd.”
After half a day, Ray’s follower count had risen to 981.
But 26 hours later, it had skyrocketed even more, to a whopping 4,189!
Sketchy Elvis seemed to be coming through on his end of the bargain, Go was completely impressed. However, much like an actual skyrocket, Ray’s followers began to feel the effects of gravity after the 4,000 mark and slowed down considerably. After five days it had leveled off at 4,625. Go figured this was an automatic time-limit set by Elvis.
While it wasn’t quite 5,000, Go was very pleased with how smoothly the transaction went and more than satisfied with the number Ray got. He decided to thank his new followers by posting three of Ray-chan’s hottest photos.
However, immediately after posting the photos, Ray’s follower count instantly dropped by 53. Go thought it must have been a bug on Elvis’ side…some kind of technical glitch, that he should probably work out from his otherwise great service.
It’s a glitch right? I mean, who doesn’t want a little Ray in their life…you know, like the sunshine.