In an age when having a strong social media profile is a mark of success, some comedians, musicians and artists are turning to services that sell Twitter followers.

It’s a new business geared to the digital era – with companies that sell "bots" or computer-generated accounts that pose as Twitter followers. Also on the rise are professional followers, who are paid to tweet and re-tweet for the stars.

Lady Gaga, Mitt Romney and even Barack Obama have all been accused of buying followers, though all have denied it.

As Deana Sumanac reports, many social media experts oppose the practice, saying it is an abuse of Twitter and Facebook’s power to represent grassroots popularity.

Steve Dolson says buying followers can skew the impact of social media.

"It was mostly supposed to be equal playing ground, where people who rise to the top will rise to the top and the people who love their fans and engage their fans, they should rise to the top. But now you have people who buy followers that look bigger than they are," he told CBC News.

But comedian Dan Nainan admits he did buy followers at the start of his career and sees it as part of the price of building an image and drawing new audiences.