Back in high school, I had an English teacher that spent a week or so teaching us about the methods advertisers use to entice into desiring the products they sold. This had no real connection to his actual curriculum, but he felt that someone should teach us about what he considered to be, the underhanded manner in which we’re convinced to buy things. One of the chief methods he told us about was ‘The Bandwagon.’
The Bandwagon is a simple enough concept; if your audience sees a lot of people enjoying something, if they believe that it’s popular, they’ll want to join in the fun. You create the illusion that there’s a movement that everybody else is plugged into, and you’re in danger of being excluded, if you don’t get involved.
It’s an effective way to sell hamburgers, soft. drinks and body spray. But what about presidential candidates? Back in July Addicting Info reported that Mitt Romney picked up 100,000 Twitter followers in one day, a spike of about 17%. Suspicions were immediately cast on the huge number. An outfit by the name of Barracuda Labs confirmed those suspicions today. From the Guardian:
The widely reported surge in tens of thousands of new followers for @mittromney from 21 July – which provoked commentary and suspicion – appeared to have been purchased from a dealer, it said: “We believe most of these recent followers of Romney are not from a general Twitter population but most likely from a paid Twitter follower service.”
The analysis, part of a wider investigation into what the report called the underground Twitter economy, found telltale signals that about a quarter of the new followers were less than three weeks old and had not tweeted. Some 80% were less than three-months-old.
Barracuda said this fit a wider pattern of clandestine Twitter trading which it began studying in May. “Our team set up three Twitter accounts and purchased between 20,000 and 70,000 Twitter followers for each of them from eBay and another website searched from Google.”
It identified “dealers” who charge an average of $18 for 1,000 followers. A dealer can earn up to $800 a day for 7 weeks of selling followings if they can control 20,000 fake accounts, it said. They can earn extra revenue by selling tweets and re-tweets.
There were several reasons for people to be skeptical of the massive gain in interest in Mitt’s 140 characters-or-less musings; the suddenness of that large an increase, the fact that Romney didn’t do or say anything that impressive on that day that might have inspired so many new people to follow him.
But mostly, it’s because Mitt Romney is unlikable. Progressives find him horrifying, of course, he’s the embodiment of both amoral corporate oligarchy, and pious theocracy. He’s had a career in the private sector that would make Gordon Gekko (whose look he seems to have adopted) join the Occupy Movement. The Poles chanted Obama’s name when he visited them, and he actually made the Brits long for Sarah Palin, they found him so vulgar and odious. We all consider him insincere, clumsy and desperate.
But Republicans are having a hard time with him, too. Even they can see he’s only saying the things he’s told they want to hear. He poured millions of his own money to buy the nomination in 2008, and dropped out when McCain had secured twice as many delegates. He’s still trying to buy the presidency. I’m sure few of them will admit it today, but everyone on the right talked about how wooden and phony and just plain unlikable Mitt Romney was. Fewer still will admit that today, but trust me, they feel it. Most of them will hold their nose and vote for him, but they won’t do it because they like him, they’ll do it because they hate Obama.