Fake it or make it. Fake followers on Social Media

Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. What have they got in common? Well, aside from the fact that they’re both young and very popular, they’re both present as a brand on Twitter.

However, there’s another thing they have in common on Twitter, and that’s fake followers, as also revealed in a BBC article and within other conversations:

Round about now you’re probably thinking: “Great, they’re celebrities. How are they relevant to my business?”

Well, it’s not them you should be thinking about, it’s the fake followers.

With an estimated eight million Twitter users in the UK spending more than an hour a day on the network and more than 3.6 million spending double that time, it’s the ideal place to interact with your existing and potential clients. It’s also a place to interact with other businesses. After all, Twitter is the most popular social network among FTSE 100 companies.

So now it’s time for the big question: Fake it or make it? Twitter is full of pages promising to give you “1000 followers for $5” or “8000 retweets for $10”. Building a community takes time and effort, so even the top community managers and social ninjas must surely have thought of buying few hundred or maybe even thousands of followers.

It’s easy to be tempted. The numbers go up nearly instantly, and to the naked eye you go from being a zero to a hero overnight. It’s an easily measurable metric, and as a result many follow the dark path of buying followers – to the point where the business of doing so is believed to be worth between £26 million and £234 million.

If Lady Gaga can do it why is it not the solution for your brand? Well, think of it like she might – buying fake followers is like saying that tickets to your gig have sold out when you really have plenty of them left.

Your real brand ambassadors come expecting a great experience and membership of a huge community, but instead it’s pretty much just you and them. Kind of like turning up at the O2 on your own. Creating expectations then not delivering is one of the worst things a brand can do!

Also, remember the following points:

  • Buying followers is against Twitter’s terms of service.
  • Fake followers are exactly that – fake. They won’t engage with your brand on Twitter, or bring any new leads or conversions
  • They could hurt your brand. People aren’t stupid, and they’ll see that despite a great following you have very low engagement rates
  • It’s a waste of your resources. Yes, it’s cheap to buy followers, but it’s also cheap to create a stand out Vine or image that will rock your followers’ world.
  • Don’t try to be someone you’re not – embrace your brand! Shape the personality behind it to meet your social marketing goals. Growing a community takes time and while it’s difficult at first there are ways to get it going. Share relevant content which provides value, and talk to people as opposed to only broadcasting information – the followers will come from there.

    I’ll leave you with another metaphor – growing a Twitter community is like growing vegetables. You can go down the genetically modified route and get quick results, or you can go for the organic option. There might be less of it, but it’ll be better!

    If you have any comments, questions or think I am wrong, don’t hesitate to get in touch and let me know (I take criticism rather well!).

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