HBO Max recently announced the debut of a new show about influencers called "Fake Famous," which they are dubbing a "social experiment." The concept is to take random people and try to make them famous online. The show debuts at 9:00 ET on February 2 on HBO Max and there is more than a little wrong with it, which I've outlined below.
Carusele's Concerns Over HBO's New Show, "Fake Famous"
Fake Followers and Fake Likes
Among the first steps the producers of this show do is to buy fake followers and fake engagements, meaning fake likes, comments and shares. So the first question is, "Does this work?" The honest answer? Yes, sometimes it does.
The good news for influencers that purchase followers and likes is there are a lot of amateurs running influencer marketing campaigns out there that don't know how to spot false accounts. The bad news is that the bigger players, the professional agencies and brands, including Carusele, all have software to sniff this out. We can detect things like:
- Suspiciously fast growth;
- The same commenters commenting in the same order on multiple posts even on different accounts;
- Single emoji comments (which are often fake);
- Comments in foreign languages;
- Location of followers in foreign countries
And this is just the beginning of the things that can be tracked. With machine learning and artificial intelligence it will get harder and harder to get any headway from buying fake accounts.
Buying followers isn't a new thing. In 2013 I published a blog post outlining what happened when I bought 10,000 fake followers for my Twitter account. Long story short: Nothing good. And Twitter shut down those 10,000 accounts over the course of about 6 months, so I was right back where I started from. Fraud is no way to play a long game or build a sustainable business.
The Reality of and Stress of Being an Influencer
People may laugh, but I think the stress of the industry is very real. First of all, if you're producing interesting content then almost by definition not everyone will love it. And sadly the haters come out much more strongly on social media than they ever would in person. So you have to have a thick skin to take the abuse. Not everyone is made for that.
Then there's the challenge of producing a lot of content that drives real results and, at the same time, looks effortless. We've been producing social content for our clients since 2007 and I can tell you it's not easy. We like to say we work at the intersection of technology and psychology. You have to get things right from a technical standpoint and understand what works in the various algorithms, but you also have to "read the room" so to speak and get your posts right from that perspective. And the room is huge, sensitive and opinionated. Throw in the fact that you have literally tens of thousands of competitors and the stress is very real.
Perhaps the saddest part of this trailer was the line saying that kids are more likely to want to be social media influencers than any other career. We love our influencers, but it's very likely that this show will demonstrate that it's not all that it appears to be on social media. Of course, what really is?
Regardless, I'll be tuning in to Fake Famous. Seems like a train wreck, but one I have to watch.