Most social media users know these non-human ‘followers’, who increase traffic without participating in a real conversation. Sam Flemming reports that his company CIC has analyzed these skeleton or zombie users. News: internet celebrity Lee Kaifu has a million of them.
What is according to Sam Flemming a skeleton user?
On the most basic level, skeleton users are purely virtual; generated by programs without ever having a real person attached, or meat on their digital bones. They are simply used to increase an account’s followers. However, the technology behind skeleton users is becoming increasingly advanced; proper profile pictures and periodic activity based on a preset program, so they act like a real person is behind them. Naturally though, users who employ skeleton users on mass experience little effect on engagement levels.
It’s no secret that there are agencies “employing” skeleton users in the dark arts of campaign execution; skeletons can be commanded to follow, retweet, comment and even take part in online polls. In fact, a host of B2B services have sprung up to cater for PR agencies striving to reach their contracted KPI of followers.
But social media have started to fight back:
Sina Weibo has officially announced that they will combat skeleton users and is encouraging users to report any scams and skeletons they encounter through official portals and skeleton-busting Weibo accounts (such as these two: @系统管理员 & @虚假活动曝光)
- Why Weibo is cuter than Twitter – Tricia Wang (chinaherald.net)
- How to get your ROI on social media – William Bao Bean (chinaherald.net)
- Fuzhou bomber gets a martyr status – Victor Shih (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- China’s social media landscape – CIC (fonstuinstra.net)