Why buying followers is bad for business

March 28, 2013

Social media has undergone a boom over the last decade. The average person now spends up to 20 per cent of their PC time, and 30 per cent of their mobile time on social media websites. This surge in usage means that companies are under increasing pressure to be more active online.

It isn’t surprising then that services selling Twitter followers and Facebook likes are sprouting up all over the web. These websites pledge to save precious time and effort by offering up a huge social media following at the click of a button.

Sound too good to be true?

That’s because it is…

Bought followers are unlikely to have an interest in your company’s objectives. And, all too often the thousands of followers that flood in to boost your company’s online-ego are ‘shell’ accounts. These ‘shell’ accounts are basically fake profiles. Your posts won’t receive any retweets, likes or +1s from these fake profiles and those with a genuine interest in your brand will easily be able to see that techniques that have been put in place to mislead them and superficially boost your online credentials. You risk your company messages falling on deaf ears, and your business losing the respect of those that do seek to demonstrate an active interest in your brand.

As stated in a recent bcm blog: 5 reasons to launch your company into the Twittersphere, social media is a place to attract and engage a broader audience. It is precisely this attracting and engaging an audience organically, that can result in a social media presence that is beneficial to business.  To do this you need to post interesting updates regularly: whether it’s sharing informative content (like webinars or articles), answering their questions or breaking new tech stories.  These organic followers will actively enjoy sharing your posts with friends and colleagues and create a social media buzz, whilst all the while growing your business’ presence online.

Bought followers may be able to show an upward curve on a graph, but if you want to unlock the vast advantages that social media can offer your business then nothing will work quite as well as honest time and effort.

If you still feel a draw towards social media tools, use ones that will genuinely add value and help you find the right people. Tools like Followerwonk can help you identify relevant and influential people to engage with by searching for keywords in their Twitter bios. It allows you to analyse your own following and compare it to different Twitter accounts (such your competitors), helping you to identify who it would be beneficial to target.

And if you want to catch out those that do choose to bump up their following artificially, check out Status people– a fake follower analyser – to see the percentage of inactive and therefore useless followers of any Twitter account.  A handy tool to make a case if your boss ever asks you to go shopping for followers.

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