Like an email list can be purchased, so can social media followers. The practice of buying fans, friends, or followers has the effect of making it appear as if someone has a larger audience and is perhaps more respected than they really are.
However, as with email lists, social media followers should not be bought. Not only is it not best practices to work with a purchased list that is likely full of unqualified leads and unmanned accounts, the idea of buying Twitter followers essentially undermines the purpose of social media marketing. Let’s use Twitter as an example.
There are unfortunately some unscrupulous “vendors” out there that will take advantage of Twitter users longing for a bigger audience. They will tout their fake followers as an easy way for you to attract real followers. It’s just a tactic to get you to part with your cash.
Remember the emphasis for social media marketing is on that first word: social. What exactly is social about adding numbers to your follower count if those followers will never actually interact or engage with you? When you purchase social media followers, you’re not buying engagement, you’re buying a number to appear next to your name and that doesn’t represent at all what is valuable about Twitter.
Take the following scenario as an example of why this type of purchase would be a pointless, and potentially harmful, investment.
Okay, so you’ve bought 3,000 Twitter followers. At first glance, your profile appears to command a respectable audience. You tweet insightful thoughts, share blog updates and post links to your products and services.
But no one asks you any questions. No one re-tweets your posts or responds to your calls to action. Not a single one of your followers offers insights into what your consumer audience might be thinking. Because none of your followers are real.
After purchasing followers, your follower count may increase organically, but you can’t tell which are human and which are thoughtless bots. It’s sort of like talking into an auditorium filled with mannequins: It feels and looks like you have an audience, but you can’t tell if anyone is listening or if your message is effective.
And if anyone walked into the auditorium and realized what your audience consisted of, they would likely run the other direction. Savvy Twitterers can identify a purchased follower list and tell their audience, which could damage your brand’s reputation in social circles. There are even apps to help identify accounts with a high percentage of fake followers.
What are some of the reasons people might consider purchasing lists?
- Deception, whether intentional or unintentional
- Feelings of inferiority comparing your numbers to others
- Frustration experienced in drumming up an audience organically
Let’s take a few moments to address those reasons and explain why you shouldn’t succumb to temptation.
- Deception. There are a few reasons why people might want to deceive on Twitter. Of course, you’re not part of the group deceiving to make a profit. You just want people to think you’re popular. It’s enticing, because it seems really easy to buy popularity, but this “easy fix” could put your brand at risk. Once people get the idea in their head that you’re not on the level, it’s hard to dislodge that perception.
- Follower-envy. Perhaps you compared your numbers to another account and feel a little down on yourself. Have you evaluated whether or not they have a bunch of fake followers themselves? They could be deceiving you. How long have they been on Twitter? If they have hundreds or thousands of status updates, it likely took them a long time to establish that kind of audience. It will take time for you, too.
- Frustration. Cultivating an engaged and active following takes effort and can be very frustrating at first. This shortcut of buying a list, however, won’t increase your Twitter effectiveness. As we explored in the scenario above, with purchased followers you might as well have an audience of 0 – at least you didn’t have to pay for that. Be patient and keep sharing and your customers will find you.
Put those fears out of your mind. Marketing on Twitter is not a race, it’s more like a journey of discovery – discovering what is important to your customers and how to best to appeal to them.
To grow your audience organically, consider reading the following posts:
True, it takes time and energy to nurture a vast and engaged audience, but if you put in the work, it will be worth it in the end.
Image provided via Shutterstock.