This weekend, the New York Times published a long-form interactive piece on the business of buying followers online. While there are certainly many celebrities and tastemakers with genuine followings in the millions, too often celebrities (and frequently people on their payroll) are turing to shadowy organizations to quickly build an online following.
There is no shortcut to building your community. Popularity in the real world doesn't ensure massive followings online and the inverse is true as well. To build real followers and a genuine community of people interested in what you publish, you need to put in the time to develop thoughtful content and engage with your users/followers/fans. Anything less is fraud. Read the NY Time piece and leave your thoughts in the comments.