LeAnn Rimes buys Twitter followers; can cash-and-carry friends and fans be far behind?

leann-rimes-mar-2013-gi.jpgAccording to a new report, LeAnn Rimes recently saw a spike in Twitter followers -- a sudden leap of more than 100,000 fans, according to the online tabs. That miracle increase, apparently, happened in a span of two days.

If you're skeptical about this insta-love, you have every reason to be. Marketers who specialize in social media are even more suspicious. Why? Because such sudden surges are usually a sign that a star -- or someone very close to her -- is paying for Twitter followers. Fake ones, probably.

I corralled a friend of mine to offer some more insight: Lisa Jenkins, a marketing consultant who works with entertainers to help them broaden their social media appeal. She never -- ever -- buys fake Twitter followers for her clients. But she knows of plenty other operations that do.

"It is a telltale sign that someone has bought Twitter followers, when the spike occurs in such a short window of time," she confirms to me. "Unless she has done something phenomenally noteworthy -- won 'DWTS'? Been elected to congress? Had an affair with Kanye? -- there's just no organic way for her followers to jump like that."

So does that mean that Falkor is somehow lying to us? Not necessarily.

"The decision is usually the direct result of who the stars have surrounding them -- and their own sanity," Jenkins explains. "Someone like, let's say, Zooey Deschanel seems level-headed enough to surround herself with smart people... she has a rep/credibility to protect.

"Whereas Amanda Bynes or Lindsay Lohan -- what do they have to lose? They clearly are not surrounded by people who are watching out for their best interests, or are smart."

As for how these fake followers work, it's like this: A go-between -- say, a PR agency -- buys them in bulk for a cheap price. Sometimes the accounts are just zombie accounts all created by a single person, accounts set up to make a star look more popular than she is.

So how to know whether your favorite star is cooking her Twitter books? Check out Status People, which measures the likely proportion of fake followers to real ones, for any Twitter account. According to Status People, more than 60 percent of Rimes's followers are likely fake. (Justin's Belieber army is apparently 36 percent fake. The Rihanna Navy? Almost 40 percent counterfeit.)

I ran the same analysis on my own account, @famefatalesays.

Fakes: 8 percent, according to Status People. How those robots crashed my Twitter party, I have no idea.
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