This post is part of a series for Social Media Contractors: our FAQs. We get a lot of questions about our business (and about social media), ranging from "What do you do?," to "Why should I even care about Twitter?," and this series is meant as an effort to provide in-depth answers to some of those questions.
Anyone who's been around social media for longer than about a week has probably heard of buying Twitter followers (or Instagram followers, or Facebook likes, etc., etc.).
Although the idea of buying followers is tempting to many (especially new clients who ask us why they shouldn't just buy followers and be done with it), in reality, it's a terrible idea.
Buying followers carries a lot of potential for problems, and in almost every situation, it's just not worth the risk.
Here are a few reasons why buying followers is a bad idea:
- Authenticity. Authenticity is everything on social media, and if there's one thing that buying followers certainly isn't, it's authentic. You'll have a hard time gaining any legitimacy whatsoever once people find out that you have fake followers (which they will), and on social media, that's a big problem. This alone makes it not worth the risk.
- You're not buying followers, you're buying numbers. As Dan Evon notes in his article about fake followers, when you buy followers, you're not really buying followers–you're simply buying a number that shows up next to your name. Those followers you buy won't interact with you, they're not interested in what you're selling, and really, they won't do much of anything for you. If you want to look important (to anyone who's too lazy to actually see who's following you), then this may be a good solution. For every other aspect, these followers are nothing more than a number.
- Risk (of link spam or money loss). Here's something many people don't think about: the risk that you won't actually get anything for your money. There are a lot of shady businesses out there that will do nothing more than take the money and run, and even if you do get your followers, there's also the chance that your legitimate followers will get bombarded with link spam. That makes you look bad, and can sometimes be tough to clean up.
- Reputation. This ties right in with authenticity, and above all of the reasons listed here, is the one that should concern you the most. When you buy followers, you put your reputation at stake. Not just on social media–but your entire reputation. If you're okay with buying followers, what else are you okay with doing to make your brand look better (albeit falsely)? The minimal gains (if any) you'll get from buying followers are completely offset by the risk that you'll make your brand look like a bunch of fakers.
If you have 5 million followers and another 500 turn up over the course of a couple of hours, not many people will be surprised. But if your business joined Facebook yesterday, has one post, and has 5,000 likes, it's not going to take a social media expert to know that something is up.
So as tempting as buying followers may be (even I wouldn't mind having 5,000 followers on Twitter), it's actually a pretty bad idea. And don't just take our word for it–a quick Google search of "buying followers" turns up pages and pages of people saying why it's not worth it.
Celebrities aside, the most influential people on social media didn't get there by buying followers–they got there by working hard every day, posting good content, and eventually attracting an audience that's interested in them. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was Hubspot's Twitter feed.
If you're looking for an outsourced solution that doesn't rely on buying followers with no legitimate value, we may be able to help. Here at Social Media Contractors, we've spent countless hours building up social media accounts for clients–the right way. If you'd like to learn more about how we can help, let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
John once considered buying 5,000 followers for the low, low price of $10, but luckily, he didn't have his debit card on him. He's Managing Editor at Social media Contractors.