How it works
Before we jump into discussing whether or not you should be buying social media followers, let us first take a minute to briefly explain exactly how this concept works. So let's assume that we are all familiar with the process of organically building a following on, say, Twitter (create a profile, post some great tweets, spread the word and wait for the followers to role in). Okay, so we may have missed some of the finer details but you get the point. Well, as enjoyable a process as building a following organically can be, the principle draw-back is that it takes time. Time to think of and write out engaging tweets, time to work out when to schedule tweets to go out, time to analyse what works and what doesn't, time to engage with potential followers... you get the gist.
Buying followers allows us to skip the time issue and jump straight to the part where we have lots of followers to show how cool/popular/important our company and/or brand is. Buying followers is generally pretty cheap (Devumi.com are currently offering 1,000 followers for a very affordable £8), and the results are usually pretty instantaneous with the new followers often appearing within a matter of days and sometimes hours of you placing an order. You can also purchase interaction packages which will buy you not only new followers but also retweets and favourites to further emphasise the image of a popular profile.
Pros & Cons
"But who are these magical followers?" you ask. Well, there's the potential downside. Your new Twitter followers are usually dormant accounts, probably created en masse by a university student looking for an easy way to make beer money. Whilst convincing at first glance, clicking on the profile page of one of these accounts would probably show that they haven't tweeted in quite some time, as in years, and even when they did it was fleeting. Anyway, the point is that it's highly unlikely that there is an actual quality consumer at the other end of these accounts.
"So what's the point then?" We hear you cry. Well my friend, let us tell you. While these types of followers are generally useless for driving web traffic and creating direct sales (as there is generally not a human being at the other end of them), they do create the illusion of a popular and thriving Twitter profile for you which in turn is much more likely to encourage other people to follow and interact with you. Real people. You know, the ones with real brains and, more importantly, real bank accounts. The ones who will look, share, favourite, follow and, if you've done your bit correctly then, buy from you. Ah, now we have your attention.
A drawback is that Twitter, like all social platforms, is not a very big fan of fake followers fluffing up numbers as you can imagine so every now and then they manage to reprogram their little bots to detect and take out a bunch of these fake followers in one fell swoop. This means that your follower numbers can suddenly drop leaving you red-faced and red-handed. There are also a number of apps that anyone can use to detect what percentage of your following is genuine, if that's the sort of thing that they like to spend their time doing... The reality is though that for most brands, very few people will suspect or even care if you have fake followers enough to notice a drop in numbers or carry out such research on you so for the most part you will fly under the radar.
Another noteworthy point is that a lot of fake follower purchases come with a limited time guarantee, meaning that the vendor will only guarantee your fake followers for a certain amount of time usually around 12 months. This can be seen as either a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, shelling out for followers who will all but disappear in a year's time (sometimes even less though if you complain you can usually get replacements) seems like a pretty raw deal and a potential money pit. On the contrary, this can be a blessing in disguise for brands who really do only want to use bought followers to give their business a little boost at the beginning when it's hardest to grow a brand. These people can rest safely in the knowledge that, over time, the fake followers usually drift away as these fake accounts are deleted or redirected and no one will ever need know of this little cheat.
Think of it like this; how many times have you walked past a shop, a restaurant, a bar and thought, 'Hmm, that place looks interesting...' only to realise that is was empty inside leading you to presume that there must be something wrong with the place as you walk on by? Little did you know that the place was actually just brand new and word hadn't spread about the awesome food yet. Well it's the same with social media. The more followers you have, the more it suggests to other people that you are worth following and the more real people who will do just that. You know the saying, 'sometimes you gotta to spend money to make money'?. Well, sometimes you have to buy (fake) followers to gain real followers.
However it should be noted that this is really only a good idea if your business isn't based on having real, organic followers - social influencers beware!!! This is a no-no as the very point of social influencers is that you have a listening and engaged audience of real people that brands can tap into so if you fake this in order to make more money you are likely to get yourself into really hot water.
On the other hand, for local businesses, online stores and brands trying to just building enough of a presence to encourage people to check out their stuff, I say go for it. It is incredibly cheeky, yes, but when you think about it, it's no worse than a department store pretending to be 'sold out' of out a high end bag and creating a waiting list so that more people want it or a nightclub letting a bunch of attractive, young people in for free so that everyone else thinks 'that place must be cool!' and follows. If this is something you're cool with, by all means go ahead. If not perhaps give it a miss and go with old fashioned hard work.
FYI purchasing followers on all social media platforms works in pretty much the same way. There are some additional factors to take into consideration when deciding whether to purchase for sites such as Facebook (news feed algorithms, reduced organic reach etc) but that is another story for another post!
We hope that you found this post helpful! Remember to bookmark this page and follow us on Twitter at @massimomedia for daily, bitesize social media and marketing advice, news and updates. If you'd like to talk with us about social media and online marketing consultancy, don't hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 07507 644 288. That's all folks!