It's believed that record labels have boosted first week album sales for years, all in an attempt to dictate public perception, and in turn, raise an artist's profile. But, are the majors now boasting fan/follower counts on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter?
That's exactly what's happening, according to Boston-based viral marketing firm ViralMS (ViralMS.com), which offers a service that allows users to purchase Facebook "fans."
Last Thursday (July 14), popstar Rihanna made headlines when she surpassed Lady Gaga to become the most popular female on Facebook, boasting over 40.6 million fans ... and to date, has reached 41.1 million.
However, was the singer's numbers juiced for publicity, and to dictate popularity in the social media world?
ViralMS confirmed to BallerStatus.com that their "Buy Facebook Fans" service (ViralMS.com) was purchased for Rihanna's official Facebook page (Facebook.com/Rihanna), just one day before she overtook Lady Gaga and made headlines.
We've obtained a snapshot of the transaction details of the order from the company's Paypal account (see here ), which shows that an order was placed for 100,000 fans -- the number Rihanna had passed Gaga by, at the time of our report -- for the cost of $7,799.
Apparently, this is a normal practice ...and ViralMS has been offering it to high-profile clients since their launch in 2008. They say the "more fans they have the more popular they appear."
"We have a wide demographic of famous individuals who buy Facebook fans. Ever since we started the industry we have worked with high-profile actors, musicians, politicians, athletes, and even Fortune 500 companies," a rep for the company told us.
"Humans are historically social creatures and they form friendships with other humans," the rep added. "The Internet has given celebrities a way to really flex their muscles through social networks. The more fans they have the more popular they appear -- it's like a game to them, really."
ViralMS claims to receive orders to boost Facebook numbers from regular individuals on a daily basis, and from celebrities "every few weeks"; and on Twitter, the orders are coming in at an even higher volume.
On Twitter, Rihanna has more than 6.2 million followers and currently ranks at #13 among all users. Lady Gaga still reigns supreme on the social media site with 11.7 followers, with Justin Bieber at #2 and President Obama at #3.
The perception of more fans/followers seems to hold a lot of weight in today's world. If it didn't, services like those of ViralMS wouldn't be as successful as they are.
Inquiries to Rihanna's camp/label for comment were not answered at press time.
What's your take? Does a celebrity's fan and follower counts affect your decision to buy and/or support their products, music, movies, etc? Let us know in the comments below.