JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In today's social media landscape, businesses, city leaders and politicians are behind the game if they aren't using it to interact with the public.
Twitter has grown in popularity very quickly.
In Florida, 20 the 27 U.S. representatives tweet and both U.S. senators use the medium.
But sometimes, the fight for popularity moves from the ballot box to the follower box.
And that can lead some to take the quick route to larger follower numbers.
There are numerous websites out there that offer thousands of new Twitter followers for a fee.
One site we found offered 25,000 followers for $69.
They're generally all fake, or spam, accounts that follow your profile.
First Coast News created a dummy Twitter account to test out one of these sites. We wanted to see if they'd deliver and just who these "people" were that followed.
You can click here to visit that account and check out the followers.
The company actually over delivered. We paid for 25,000 followers and in 24 hours, the account had more than 30,000.
And that may look nice on the surface, but some say there's a problem.
"You're talking to an empty room," said The Dalton Agency's social media director Aliera Peterson.
She said that defeats the whole purpose.
"People want the most followers, they want the most likes, but it's not just about the number," she said.
Peterson's job is to help businesses develop a social media strategy. The Dalton Agency has an entire team devoted to development and execution of Twitter, Facebook and more.
She says the point of social media for companies is to interact with clients, real flesh and blood customers, which could very well lead to them spending money on your products.
So, naturally, you run into a problem when all of your followers are store-bought fakes.
Then there's the problem with image.
Peterson says it's not the best public relations when a potential real-life follower finds out you've spent money stuffing your following with computer generated accounts.
"When people find out you're purchasing followers instead of earning them, it definitely hurts," she said.
First Coast News