Should you buy social media followers?

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Should you buy social media followers?

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Can you buy friendship?

It’s an interesting question and one even more relevant today as friendships now exist online as well as in the real world

I recently got into a (mini)debate about this subject over on LinkedIn, where a fellow user posted an article, offering a service of buying Twitter followers.

(See discussion on LinkedIn comments  – note: exists within a group – membership required)

To summarise  – the poster was offering to get followers for your brand / product via click-sites like TwiendsYou Like HitsAdd Me Fast. These are a simple, fast way of getting a lot of followers.

However, I wonder – what is the VALUE of those followers?

You may find a small handful who are interested in what you have to offer but the vast majority won’t be. You are doing the equivalent of the junk-mailout, hoping enough will stick to make it worth your while.

With a mailout, you are hoping the recipient doesn’t throw your letter in the bin and acts upon it.

With a mass-follower approach, you are hoping they follow you back, and act.

But act on what?

Are they going to follow you back – because you followed them? Some may. Others will look at your tweets at ask “what’s in this for me?”. If your Twitter stream is full of sales messages, or even worse, nothing at all, it is unlikely that they will let you into their circle. (and even if they do follow you back – an unfollow is likely if you bombard them with sales pitches)

Are they going to buy your product after a simple Twitter follow? Are they going to be so impressed that you’re found them, that they’ll immediately switch to your brand?

You are not generating any form of loyalty by engaging in mass following.

Social Media is “social”

get twitter folowers

My advice to any client is to treat social media in the same way you treat making friends/contacts. You do not walk into a dinner party, hand out a load of flyers with your phone number, and walk out again. In reality you have conversations, engage and entertain.

With social media you need to literally “make friends” with your followers. You need to nurture those friendships, avoid upsetting them and keep the conversation going.

Ironically, one of the Twitter follower websites mentioned by our friend in the original article, seems to actively promote this “quality over quantity” approach. (See infographic left – click for original)

There is some excellent advice here – which all point to the social element of social media

It’s a shame that clients are falling for this “mass clicking” approach, when – in the long run – it won’t benefit them at all.


About Author

Caroline Beavon

A communication professional with 12 years journalism experience and a genuine passion for new technologies. An experienced blogger and social media user


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Caroline Beavon

April 30, 2012at 1:28 pm

I do see your “if you have them, more will come” point – and I guess, depending on your field, that may work in your favour – especially if you are targeting companies who are a little naive about social media methods.

I do stand by my point that you may eventually get MORE RTs, clicks etc if you gained loyal/interested followers who KEEP coming back – not ones who are clicking on a link once and never returning.

I guess for companies demanding fast return, this is as effective as any mailshot campaign.

Chris Unitt

April 30, 2012at 12:44 pm

Excuse me playing devil’s advocate here. I certainly wouldn’t recommend buying followers in this way, but…

The value of the followers you’d be buying might be low in terms of engagement/conversion (although you never know – it’d probably be the case if your offer is very targeted, but if it’s entirely generic…?) but then what about some of the ancillary benefits you might get?

Once you’ve got a solid baseline of (albeit ‘worthless’) followers, more valuable people coming across your account might be more likely to follow you. There might be a social proof thing with people thinking ‘well, all those people can’t be wrong’.

If your business model relates to advertising and page views then clicks on any of the links you tweet will be valuable – more followers = greater possibility of more clicks (sorry, slightly woolly point but hopefully you get what I mean). Also, any RTs, +1s, etc that result will contribute in some small way to SEO.

There could be additional PR value – those lists of ‘most followed accounts in x sector’ are as popular as they are (largely) meaningless.

And if you sell yourself on social media savvy then a quick way to impress a less informed client is to show that your own social media accounts are popular.

The quality of Caroline’s design work is impressive; she is skilled at taking a lot of text and distilling it into eye-catching and interesting graphics that tell a story. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Caroline. On a personal level she made a big project an absolute pleasure to work on and I hope we can work together in the future” Becky Pickin, Small Groups Development Officer at Dudley CVS