Social media is a vital element of any online marketing campaign when it comes to expanding a customer base, search engine rankings, and brand recognition. And as major players, Twitter and Facebook are two of the most important and popular social media networks frequented by millions of users worldwide.
Fan and follower count is often considered a status symbol on these networks, and growing a large and dedicated following is a landmark goal of many Twitter and Facebook users. However, getting users to follow or like your page organically is quite challenging, unless you are a celebrity or a major corporation.
Many users are tempted to buy followers via outsourcing websites. And while this may seem like a good idea because more followers means a higher klout score, more visibility, and increased engagement, companies also run the risk of exposure which can be embarrassing.
In fact, Google Adword keyword tool shows that over 100,000 Google searches are performed monthly, for the keywords “buy Twitter followers,” and over 160,000 for “buy followers,” confirming that this once well-kept secret is now common practice.
The concept of buying popularity online may seem like a strange one, but this idea has been around since the birth of social media itself− and possibly since the beginning of complex human interaction. (We’ve all seen the character in a movie who is paid off to befriend another, less popular character). For years now, companies have been offering services to purchase Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, and YouTube views—but recently, these activities have landed among the not-so-savory new trends in social media.
The New York Times recently ran an article exposing major Twitter “celebrities” for purchasing fans rather then growing a following naturally and progressively. The author, Nicole Perlroth, wrote, “social media experts say there are several reasons why Twitter users would want to acquire large volumes of Twitter followers. For some people, it simply feeds the ego. For people and brands, a large Twitter following or Facebook fan base helps increase their visibility. If followers are constantly clicking on links to a brand’s landing page, it also lifts the brand’s position in Google’s search results.”
It is natural for brands to want to build their Twitter and Facbeook accounts because they are constantly looking for ways to expand awareness of their products and services. Susan Etlinger, an industry analyst at the Altimeter Group, says that, “many brands struggle to measure the top line value of social media, so there is a thirst to show momentum in different ways, one of which is to show that the brand has a bigger audience today than it did yesterday.”
Some major brands are skeptical however. Coca-Cola for example, has 700,000 Twitter followers and more than 60 million Facebook fans− more than any other brand on Facebook− but a corporate study found that online buzz had no quantifiable impact on short term sales.
This is probably because social media fans are volatile, and may start to follow a brand for a specific reason and then drop off when a contest ends or interest fades. Other users with inflated followings, like 50 Cent, Mercedes, Diddy, and Pepsi have been called out publicly when their followings spiked dramatically and then dropped substantially without explanation.
These celebrities and brands have denied the purchase of followers, but most experts agree that there is no other justification for this kind of strange activity. When a following rises by the thousands and then drops by the same amount, those who are paying attention will notice, and may publicly chastise your company for unethical or unauthentic practices.
With a simple swipe of a credit card, you can obtain legions of followers, but is it worth it? Are they helping your campaign or boosting your overall profit? And if those followers or fans are not interacting with your content are they really friends of your business at all?
Find out more in our next article, which will break down the pros and cons of buying followers and fans.
By Sasha Novikov | Creatine Marketing