We’ve heard this question more times than we can count: Should I buy followers on Facebook and Twitter (Instagram, Tumblr, etc.)? Our answer has been the same every time: an emphatic NO!
We could end the post right here, but we think it’s only fair that we provide our reasoning behind such a strident response.
Buying followers lacks authenticity. You want to run an ethical business, one that follows the rules and is fully transparent, right? In other words, you want to be real. You want to be authentic. Buying likes and followers goes against everything we just said: it’s inauthentic and disingenuous. In a word, you’ll look like a fraud. And yes, people will notice. Maybe not everyone, but many will.
Buying followers won’t make you or your company more popular. It’s easy to think that if you have a ton of followers or fans, your business will look popular and important. But the problem with these “bought” fans is that they never engage with your brand and your real fans and followers. They’re simply window dressing. It’s much better to have a small fan base of devoted, excited, eager-to-engage fans than it is to have an inflated number of fake fans.
Think about it. Let’s say out of 500 fans on Facebook, only 50 are real. When you post status updates, the majority of your so-called fans won’t comment since they’re fake accounts and/or because you didn’t pay the huckster to comment – you only paid them to like your page. Suddenly, your status update looks pretty lame since you might have only a handful of people commenting or liking it, if that. This lack of engagement can hurt you in other ways, which brings us to our next point.
Buying followers can backfire. This is especially true on Facebook, and here’s why. You’ve probably noticed when looking at your Facebook Insights that your status updates don’t show up in all of your fans’ newsfeeds. This is due to Facebook’s algorithms. Facebook has received a lot of flak for this, but regardless as to whether we users think it’s fair or not, that’s the reality.
The key to getting Facebook to share your updates with more of your fan base is by showing Facebook that the posts you put up are well received by the fans who DO see your updates. In other words, the more fans who like, comment, and share your posts over time, the more likely it is that Facebook will share your posts with more of your fan base because you’ve PROVED to Facebook that your status updates are newsfeed worthy.
Now, think about it. If the majority of your fan base is filled with bought likes (in other words, FAKE fans), you’re not going to get a ton of engagement on your posts, which means Facebook will be less inclined to show your updates to more folks.
So how should you get more followers and fans?
- Promote, promote, promote the fact you have social media accounts. You should have each social media icon on your website, your email newsletters, in your email signatures, etc. But you should go one step further: periodically, you should remind people and directly ask for the like or follow. So in an email newsletter, your opening letter might end with a reminder that your company is on Facebook and that you’d appreciate the like.
- Engage, engage, engage. Social media is all about being social. The more active you are, the more shareable content you create, and the more you give back to the community, the more likely you’ll attract real fans and followers. For example, if you tweet something interesting, witty, or funny to your followers, and a bunch of them re-tweet it, you stand a good chance of having some of their followers follow you (that’s how Twitter works). Yes, this takes more time, and it’s not an overnight way to go from 50 to 5000 fans. But it’s real and it’s transparent.
- Think outside the proverbial box. No, you shouldn’t buy fans, but there’s no reason why you can’t advertise your Facebook page and invite people to like it. Facebook’s advertising program is effective because you can get extremely granular in your targeting (right down to specific locations). Running ads for a month can be a great way to build your fan base (and it doesn’t need to be a huge investment, either—even three dollars a day should result in some new fans).
What’s your position on this hot topic? Do you think it’s ever OK to buy fans? Share your thoughts in the comments.