Justin-BieberAs any seasoned Tweeter knows, success it isn’t about how many followers
you have, it’s about reach.

Recent figures may put Lady Gaga at the top of the tweeting pile, but teen-pop bubblegum sensation Justin Bieber
may well have the edge when it comes to actual influence.

Not to
mention a mischievous streak that could cost one tech savvy super fan

Social media itself has long been trumpeted as a democracy, but as rules are increasingly codified, it’s fast becoming apparent that on Twitter some users are more equal than others.

Finding a powerful influencer is the holy grail for most marketers but if it isn’t used properly then that same influence can cause an incredible amount of damage, as witnessed when 15 year old Bieber fan Kevin Kristopik recently decided to hack into a Twitter account belonging to a personal friend of Bieber and ‘liberate’ the singer’s personal phone number.

Apparently Bieber decided not to take this on the chin, instead choosing to tweet Kristopik’s own number to 4,781,081 followers, along with the message “everyone and anyone call me, or text“.

The result?

Over 26,000 calls and messages (and associated data charges) to Kristopik’s phone.

While the tweet itself was soon deleted (presumably when Justin’s parents/management discovered it), the damage was done, and Kristopik faces a skyrocketing bill as his digits continue to be retweeted and the calls continue.

Bieber himself has been alternately praised and vilified for his actions.

On one hand this raises the issue of personal privacy, and just how much of it a star like Bieber is entitled to expect, but also neatly highlights the spectre of influence.

When dealing with celebrities such as Bieber, can marketers expect consistent professionalism, or is it time we realised we’re effectively dealing with off-message broadcasters who may also represent a conflict of interest?

Bieber may be right to take offense at Kristopik’s actions and could of course still step in and pay the bill, passing the incident off as a retaliatory prank. If he or his representatives refuse to do so however, then this could be seen as bullying and will certainly harm the tween sensation’s butter-wouldn’t-melt image.

Kristopik himself has since apologised and his Twitter account has been deleted.