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Why You Should Never Buy Fans & Followers

There’s a bit of a trend mulling around in the marketing world – we’ve become obsessed with the term ‘engagement’ and have ditched quantifying our digital efforts by the size of our community and rather deem our success by interactions.

And while the recurring theme of engagement is prevalent for good reason, the fact of the matter is that many businesses still choose to measure their success online by the size of their audience.

Yes boys, size still does matter. And sometimes, for good reason.

Take, for example, newspapers or online publishers, their whole business model depends upon readership, so it’s obviously in their best interest to make sure their community is big (and bigger than the competition).

But this drive for online popularity has given rise to a sinister practice, where selling fake fans and followers has become big business. It’s the rise of the click farm, a scam so tempting even the well-intentioned fall prey.

With snake-oil promises of instant followers for very little investment, these fraudulent operations hawk everything from Youtube views to LinkedIn connections.

[The fact of the matter is that many businesses still choose to measure their success online by the size of their audience]

Bloggers Andrea Stroppa and Carla De Micheli estimate that sales of fake Facebook followers stand at around $200 million to date, and that fake Twitter accounts, a staggering $360 million a year!

And while it all sounds like a pretty good deal, here’s why you should never buy fans & followers:

  1. Your engagement rate will suffer – if your followers are all fake, don’t expect many ‘shares’, ‘likes’ ‘repins’ or ‘retweets’ from them. Your online conversations will fall on deaf ears and the result will be an embarrassment (not to mention frustrating).
  2. It’ll cost you – pay only $500 today for 1 million fans and you’ll be paying the price later when the proverbial balloon pops. Sadly, sometimes the only recourse available is often having to close down the page and lose quality fans in the process.
  3. It’s unethical – as Jeffrey Rohrs points out in his book Audience “Money can’t buy you love… not only is buying followers and fans bad business practice, in some countries, it’s downright illegal.”

Instead of targeting these fake fans and followers, run proper ads through your network of choice, produce great content, and create clever campaigns.

At the end of the day, large, qualified communities are built over time and with hard work. Purchasing your fan base through click farms will spell atrophy for your social media efforts, and ultimately cost you in sales and profits – a tradeoff that simply isn’t worth the risk.

What’s your experience – have you ever purchased fans and followers?

Image by James Vaughan CC

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