What’s more important, 10,000 fans or followers, or 100 who will actually engage with you? It seems this question isn’t asked too often by a number of people running social media channels who opt to buy their followers in order to boost their numbers.
Let’s be honest for minute, who hasn’t wanted to boost the number of followers or fans they have? I remember taking the decision to create a new Twitter account solely for my business, and having to start from scratch. It was easy to try and compare the number of followers I had with others in my field and get depressed.
Numbers aren’t everything.
In the social media/marketing/IT world we are very fond of data. I’ve said numbers aren’t everything, but more true to the point is that some numbers are important and some numbers are not. Let’s stop looking at the number of fans and followers– lets look at the number of people who actually engage with you. In a way we could blame the social network companies themselves for putting the number of followers or likes in such a prominent place. It would be more interesting to list the number of people who actually engage with the page or account.
How to Buy your Followers
There are plenty of websites out there which claim to boost your numbers for you and many say they can boost your numbers quickly. Some will enable you to do it for free, and some will do it for a fee. There are a number of different methods that they can employ.
- Aggressive Following Technique. (Twitter Only) By following a large number of people each day, waiting for them to follow you, then unfollow those who don’t follow you back it is possible to artificially increase your followers very quickly. This goes against Twitter’s terms and conditions and so is definitely to be avoided. There is nothing wrong with following or unfollowing a large number of people every now and again, but if Twitter think you are aggressively trying to increase your followers by follower/unfollower churn methods, you are likely to get your account suspended.
- Zombie Account Following. (Facebook & Twitter) By paying a 3rd party you can get 100s, 1000s of even 10,000s of followers or likes. Generally each supplier has a database of twitter or Facebook “zombie” accounts that they can use to follow or like you. These are usually completely inactive accounts, sometimes with random names with jumbled up letters and numbers.
Why is Buying Followers so Bad?
1. Low Engagement / Low Edgerank Score.
When you buy followers or fans, you aren’t getting people who are interested or willing to engage with you. You are merely buying numbers. After paying for followers/fans or engaging in aggressive follower churn, you are likely to get a large number of fake accounts amongst your number. Blogger, Zach Bussey, decided to do an experiment and create a new Twitter account and buy some followers. Over night the number of followers of his new Twitter account increased to a whopping 26,000! It got interesting when he analysed the results and looked at the Twitter accounts that these fake accounts followed. Doing this enabled him to have a good guess on other people who had paid for followers!
2. You end up spamming your followers.
This isn’t always the case, but some even more evil Twitter Follower services ask to access your Twitter account to send out multiple messages advertising their way of increasing people’s followers. This is just going to annoy your followers and give you a bad name, which brings me on to…
3. Loss of Integrity and Reputation.
In this post-modern (or post-post-modern!) world we live in, morality is perhaps more difficult to define since everyone has a different view of what morality is. However, it is fair to say that people see buying followers as a rather immoral thing to do. People view it as you trying to appear more popular than you are and doing it by dodgy means. People may not know that you’ve bought followers, but going from 30 followers or likes to 30,000 in the space of a couple of days is bound to get people suspicious, and then your integrity and reputation could well be in tatters.
4. You’ll get found out!
In fact a lot of people are currently getting found out. It is fairly easy to find out the names of people who are being followed by fake accounts as I mentioned in the first point. However, a new tool on the block is making it even easier. The Fake Follower check from Status people analyses your followers to see how many are fake. The interesting thing is you can do the analysis on other accounts too.
There are some Victims
It is an important point that not everyone who has a large number of fake followers has paid for them. Ryan Tracey commented on a post I wrote last year called “Do you know the Twitter Limits” to say that he was the victim of 24,000 fake accounts following him. To read more on the subject you can read his blog post about him “being bot-bombed”. Unfortunately there isn’t a huge amount you can do about this apart from blocking or reporting each account individually or using a 3rd party tool such as TwitBlock. TwitBlock analyses your account for spam, zombie or bot accounts and lets you block or report them. Unfortunately it doesn’t let you do this in bulk, but this is rather unsurprising since I am pretty sure it goes against Twitter’s terms and conditions. There are tools that allow you to bulk unfollow, such as ManageFlitter, but none that I know of that allow you to bulk block. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments.
How about Facebook?
Although I have mentioned Facebook, I have mainly being referring to Twitter throughout this post. The issue of fake followers is still an issue on Facebook, it is just a little more difficult to analyse. To be fair, Facebook came clean recently and claimed that over 83 million Facebook accounts are fake which confirmed what a lot of people were already thinking. At the end of August on the Facebook Security blog, Facebook announced they were going to remove fake likes from pages.
Measure Engagement Not Follower Count
So what is the moral of this story? Well apart from it not being moral to buy your followers and having the possibility of having your account suspended or deleted, the number of followers you have really isn’t that important. Let’s make an effort not to play the numbers game and be impressed with the number of followers or likes some business has. Work on building a community of people who are interested in you or your product/service. You will most certainly reap the benefits if you do. There are lots of ways to help you do this, and I will be blogging about one such tool very soon– Commun.it.