As mentioned in Part Two, I wanted to test how well paying $5 for a bunch of clicks to your site went. I paid another US$5 for someone selling ‘I will do social media marketing campaign within my 9M Facebook and Twitter fans’ – sounds rather dubious.
I gave them a URL on my website: https://www.adamfowlerit.com/dirty/ which contains a cute picture of a rabbit, and waited to see what happened.
I can’t find any records of this link being shared in social media, but they somehow managed to generate a bunch of hits, over a 4 day period. Funnily enough, after this there is absolutely zero hits:
The seller also created a pretty graph via Google Analytics apparently showing where the clicks came from, passing it through a shortened URL:
I’m reasonably confident all this traffic was faked, along with the sources, browsers, countries etc. None of that is overly difficult to fake.
Thirdly, here’s the overall traffic to my website with the ‘marketing campaign’ hits rather obviously in the middle:
Traffic after the campaign ended went back to normal. As a side note, it’s interesting to see the dips on my site over the weekend, versus the buildup during the week to Wednesday. This cycle is consistent unless I publish a popular article, or gets picked up by a news site or reddit (it occasionally happens!).
Two major points I take away from this – it’s easy and cheap to generate ‘traffic’ which appears real and varied, and don’t believe any claim in traffic or hits, even if you see the end results.
Back on the Twitter front, I’ve done absolutely nothing with @AdamFowlerITCom but it’s looking more legitimate to me. I’m getting what appears to be more real followers (or good fake ones) as well as thanks for adding people to a list from an automated method:
I think I’ve set out what I planned to achieve – showing that it’s very easy to build up an appearance of having huge numbers of followers, and unless someone digs deep it will appear to be legitimate after you get real followers on the account too. Also, fake traffic is incredibly cheap to generate – so take everything with a grain of salt.