April 16, 2016 08:12
A growing number of businesses thrive by selling their clients the need for a bigger social media "presence" and boosting it for them.
More followers on Facebook or Instagram, the theory goes, mean more buzz, and that translates into more customers for goods and services.
One clothes company hired one of these companies in February in order to boost "likes" on Facebook. For a fee of W52,000, the number of "likes" surged to 1,000 in just one day (US$1=W1,149).
"Until now, we had a tough time trying to boost the number of 'likes' and even had to ask friends to click their support, but we don't have to go through such hassles any longer," the company's PR manager says.
The company intends to use the service for three more months.
Sometimes people just want more followers for themselves. One 27-year-old university student in Seoul contacted one company promising to boost his followers on Instagram. He paid W69,000, and two hours later he was inundated with new followers.
Around 20 companies offer such services on the Internet, but some use fake accounts to create an illusion of success, and it is unclear whether even genuine "likes" really translate into more business.
A staffer at one of these companies admits, "We've opened thousands of fake e-mail accounts. Instagram deletes fake accounts, but we simply have to create more."
Prof. Kwak Keum-joo at Seoul National University said, "Many people fixate on the number of 'likes' or followers on social media because anyone can in theory go viral. Until people realize that this is just hype, boosting followers is going to be good business."
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