The internet weighs in on whether you should buy social media fans and followers for your business

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The internet weighs in on whether you should buy social media fans and followers for your business

the internet weighs in on whether you should buy social media fans and followers

Wonder whether you should buy a few Facebook fans for your business page? Perhaps a few Twitter followers to top things up?

Well wonder no more. A not-so-scientific poll concluded that 93% of those who responded believe that you should unequivocally not buy social media fans or followers.

We’ve been asked many times over the years about buying fans and followers (even as recent as last week when it was suggested  to a client by an outside source.) We were interested in learning the opinions of a broader audience, so we took it to the internets.

Purpose: To demonstrate (un)popularity of this tactic.

Clarifications: There are two methods of ‘buying’ fans. *This may have skewed data. Several people who voted ‘yes’ clarified that they meant paid social channel ads and possibly some that voted ‘no’ meant to like farms. With that said, some people commented very strongly that you should grow organically, so the data is a little wishy-washy at best.

(1) Purchasing fans from third party sites. It’s as easy as Googling. Pick a page then dont buy social media fanschoose your ‘package.’ (Don’t let the price scare you, it includes shipping and taxes – no hidden costs, other than the cost of your soul.)

(2) Targeted ads via social media channels. On a technicality you can ‘buy’ fans if you run a Facebook ‘Like’ Campaign. This is where you serve up ‘Like Our Facebook Page’ ads to your target audience, avoiding the whole ‘spray n’ pray’ method.

Hypothesis: An overwhelming majority will say ‘no’ to buying fans; with particular emphasis on growing organically and definitely not purchasing them from third party sites.

Data Collection: Over two days, we collected information via polls on Twitter and Facebook (tremendously scientific.)

pie chart should you buy social media fans

Conclusion:

The internet says you should not buy social media fans, especially from third party websites that have zero connection to your business.

Advice:

No one understands smoke and mirrors better than marketers. We understand that perception and optics can be excruciatingly important. Some of the worlds biggest brands still focus on vanity metrics such as likes, follows & fans.

“I have thought about it, especially when I sit in meetings with well-received content but the numbers aren’t there. It’s like wow if numbers are what you want… I can get you numbers if you give me 24 hours and I can hit someone up on Fiverr.”

But just because big brands get away with this focus, doesn’t mean other businesses can afford to do the same (you can’t pay bills in likes, tweets, RTs and shares.) So if your business objectives are, say, revenue –  buying fans won’t help you get there. Check out this actual scientific experiment by Harvard where they examined customer and non-customer behaviour on Facebook.

Focus your time and resources on the audience you want to attract in a meaningful way. It takes time, effort and creativity to drown out very noisy social media channels. But as someone recently pointed out – there’s still room for businesses who take time to actually listen to their audience and create and share relevant stuff.

Below are some fascinating comments & feedback from those who participated in this very scientific research.
(We have not included any identifying information as to respect their privacy. If you see your comment and wish to be tagged, please let us know!) 

Hard No.

  • “The account needs to grow slowly. One fan/customer at a time. Buying them = no authenticity = clients can spot this a mile away”
  • “No never…. it’s about following first and engaging on hashtags while also invest in paid social promotion… NEVER is it ok IMO to buy followers!”
  • “You can buy reach (advertising), but never followers.”
  • “…Buying followers completely messes up your engagement and demographics. Running ads with the goal of getting Facebook likes is probably the best way to go and allows for good retargeting later.”
  • “Never buy followers regardless of how big or small your business is.”
  • “No. You earn them and then you keep them. And then you collab with others to reach their network and then maybe sometimes you can boost a post or an ad.”
  • “NEVER.”
  • “Absolutely. Not. Never!”
  • “No, no, and more no! Stop taking shortcuts (not talking about advertising here) and earn those likes, follows, followers, and friends!”
  • “LOL. No. Basically the point of growing a following is having people that actually give a crap about what you’re posting and what your business does, and therefore provide a valuable return for your efforts in the form of: engagement, sharing, conversions (whatever kind you need), and contact info sharing etc.Paying for followers not only loads up your numbers with a bunch of bots and people that Like pages just to Like pages, it also ruins your credibility as a brand. Having 5,000 followers with zero engagement is a telltale sign of “this person paid for this shit” and will 100% deter others from caring.So… if you’re posting content and no one is liking or following the issues are typically (1) you haven’t been doing it long enough to gain traction or (2) your content sucks. Followers will come if you provide value!”
  • “Never. you should never buy followers/subscribers. it doesn’t help anything except vanity. It doesn’t help sales, engagement, shares, promotion, etc. Having 100 engaged followers who will actually buy your stuff, share your content, comment/engage with you is better than a million followers/subscribers who are probably bots and/or will never do any of the above actions

Yes:

  • “Though I’ve caved to clients who demanded such as they wanted the vanity optics for various reasons. But it takes a good while to repair your ability to model a good audience and get accurate KPI’s.”
  • “As far as followers and/or likes, I tell my clients no do not pay just to up the like count. Get good at attracting and engaging with your clients/prospects on social media organically first. Otherwise you are just buying friends, as soon as you stop paying they’re gone. But paying for well targeted ads or targeted boosting of posts is another thing. Having an established organic following can give you the targeting insight to better aim towards your intended audience, which will make the paid for ads much more fruitful.”
  • ” I vote yes but only for Facebook as you can target directly to the type of customer you are looking to attract.”
  • “Yes. Okay. If you’re able to incentivize people in your target market to follow you, and they are in your target market, then it can be effective in some situations.”

Depends:

  • “I have thought about it, especially when I sit in meetings with well-received content but the numbers aren’t there. Its like wow if numbers are what you want.. I can get you numbers if you give me 24 hours and I can hit someone up on Fiverr. There is a YouTube account I follow where the creator admitted to buying views when she was getting started. So where I know its looked down upon and on IG I can almost tell if followers are bought. If I didn’t want to risk losing my accounts, I would def give it a try, but I’m not going to do that because the risk is too high for me.”

‘Other’ Feedback:

  • “So you’re saying, “should we cheat.” Integrity in business is everything. Don’t do it.”
  • “Can we just preemptively kick the two people who said “yes” from the group? Just a safe bet.”
  • “It is all about being a deceptive startup..who would like to buy from you then…matter of good and bad choices in life.”
  • If you’re in real game of business you will discover that fans are not sales, views are not sales, likes don’t put dollars in your account. If you buy a friend did you really make a friend or did you make a purchase.”

I’d sincerely like to thank everyone who took the time to weigh in on this very scientific study. 😉

In case you were thinking about purchasing fans or followers, here’s an FAQ I grabbed from a random website. [Seems completely legit.] 

Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data and insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.