Date
17 November 2017
A fake fan industry has grown around Weixin, Tencent's instant messaging platform, revealing the dark side of social media. Photo: Baidu.com
A fake fan industry has grown around Weixin, Tencent's instant messaging platform, revealing the dark side of social media. Photo: Baidu.com

How Weixin is raising a community of fake fans

In distinct contrast to WhatsApp, Tencent’s instant messaging platform Weixin is humming with e-commerce activity.

Since last year, Tencent has allowed brands, merchants and even microbloggers to do sales and marketing on the platform to try to make money off it.

As a result, it has created a cottage industry of fake fans that are only beginning to expose the dark side of social media.

Weixin is geared to advertising and companies tend to place their ads close to the biggest fan base. 

If you want to attract more advertising dollars to your account but don’t have enough followers, you can buy from e-shopping sites like Taobao.com.

An insider who claims to have more than 100,000 fans and followers on his Weixin public account explained how it works to Shanghai Morning Post.

In order to charge advertisers 10,000 yuan (US$1,615), he has to have 20,000 clicks on the ad. To make up the shortfall, he buys online traffic, each click costing about 1 yuan.

Sometimes, a high click rate is not enough. Advertisers will ask that their advertisements also have a high share rate and numerous comments. Of course, these can also be bought.

Fake fans receive about 18 fen to 20 fen per comment which can be tailor-made for a specific ad. By comparison, the going rate is about 80 yuan per 1,000 shares.

An average “fan” seller makes about 30,000 yuan a month, not bad at all.

But you don’t even have to have fans in order to sell them. Fan retailers can get them from wholesalers, according to Shanghai Morning Post.

Advertisers are beginning to wise up to these tricks. A growing number are switching to a cost-per-sale (CPS) advertising model against cost-per-click (CPC), paying for sales rather than clicks, which can be easily manipulated by the fake fan community.

This is good news for those who have a high-quality but small fan base.

One such Weixin account operator said even with his loyal, high-spending fans and followers, he gets only 3,000 yuan to 4,000 yuan per ad under the CPC model.

But when he was involved in promoting an internet finance product on the CPS model, he would receive nearly 20,000 yuan in commissions alone.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]

RA

EJ Insight writer

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