BUYING FOLLOWERS IS A GRAY AREA
The rule of thumb is that buying followers is generally looked down upon. Especially in social media, where the buzzwords and ideals revolve around building an organic following. The key idea of social is that you become an influencer or thought leader in your genre because of the quality of your content spreading through the grassroots and not because you paid for it. And while this article will focus on reasons not to buy followers, we present one reason why brands can get away with it.
BUYING FOLLOWERS DOES NOT INCREASE ENGAGEMENT
The goal of your brand’s social media presence is the same as old marketing: to get exposure and attention. In social media, this is achieved by virality, brand personality, and creating a dialogue with peers and customers. Having thousands of bought followers on Twitter may look impressive but hardly translates to any real life interaction or engagement with your content. And bots aren’t retweeting your content anyway.
As the title of this article points out, buying followers on Twitter is like “tweeting to mannequins”, and goes on to state that having a small group of fully engaged followers moves the scale much more than having a five figure following that ignores every post. But the issue isn’t black and white – and may depend on the industry you’re in.
The theory is that popularity begets more popularity. The question is whether having a large amount of bought followers on social platforms translates into real life followers. After all, having a large amount of followers can translate into showing up into suggestions of “who to follow” on Twitter.
Besides, everyone is doing it. Al Delgado of FanMeNow.com receives 30-35 orders a day for 1000-5000 followers. And when Slate writer Seth Stevenson purchased 27,000 Twitter followers, he noticed an exponential rise in real followers.
INSTAGRAM AND TWITTER RATIOS
The two social media platforms that respond to a large following are Instagram and Twitter, thereby making purchasing tens of thousands of followers an attractive proposition. We can gripe all we want about the importance of a building a brand through a combination of hard work and putting in the time, but the reality is that buying followers exists for a reason.
The most popular personalities on Instagram can rake in millions of dollars as influencers, and as one marketing associate points out, the increase in followers translates into an increase in exposure. Dutch blogger Kirsten Jassie bought 1500 Instagram followers for $20 that resulted in an increase in real followers and interactions. And she’s not alone – another Los Angeles based blogger bought 5000 Instagram followers which resulted in her getting noticed by a local boutique.
Building a brand on social media follows many rules of what defines us as social groups. While the ideal is that the best and most useful companies will rise to the top, popularity and exposure continue to matter. Should your company buy followers to increase social proof? It’s effective, as long as no one notices. But fake followers are essentially useless beyond that. Ultimately, it comes down to how you want to build your brand.