When you first set up your business’ social media accounts, it can be disheartening to see the Facebook likes and Twitter followers in the single figures and growing slowly. To overcome this, many small business owners are looking to sites such as Fiverr to buy followers in order to boost numbers. This may be an affordable option, but there are many ways this tactic can be damaging to your business.
Where do these followers come from?
The source of fake likes and followers can vary between Facebook and Twitter. Bought followers on Twitter are usually from fake accounts, solely created by spammers to distribute spam links and to be sold as followers. Fake Facebook likes can be more sinister, as they often come from real but hacked accounts. In this case, users have no knowledge that they have ‘liked’ a page, and have no control over what pages their profile is linked to.
Fake likes and followers are used purely to boost numbers, not engagement. All your promotions will be wasted on people (or bots) who either don’t care or don’t exist.
What’s the harm?
Although it can be encouraging to see your followers and likes on the rise, social media should not be a numbers game. Real value comes from actually engaging with people who are interested in your product or service. Fake followers will not interact with your profiles and will not bring you more traffic. In short, buying fake followers will not boost your sales – not to mention it’s likely you’ll have your account suspended for doing so.
Fake followers are not only bad in the eyes of the social networks, they can discourage your potential customers too. If your follower numbers suddenly explode overnight, it will be obvious to your genuine followers that you have resorted to buying followers. On Twitter it is very easy for your potential customers to view your followers list and see that many of your followers are fake – these fake accounts can often be spotted simply by looking at the bio or their previous tweets. If your real followers suspect you of buying likes, they’re unlikely to trust your company enough to buy from you.
Buying followers also makes it impossible to keep track of your genuine metrics and see what is really working to engage your followers. This is an essential part of social media and is something you should be doing to determine what is right to post on your page, which in turn should attract more genuine likes and followers over time.
What’s the solution?
You’re better off naturally building your followers because these people will be more engaged and more likely to buy from you or tell their friends about you. Do this by encouraging your existing customers to follow you, and advertising your social profiles to potential customers, eg. in your shop, on your flyers, and linking to them on your website.
If you are happy to spend money to get likes, you can use Facebook ads to get your page seen by more people. You can set a daily budget and this can be an effective way of increasing the reach of your page. Getting likes this way will lead to more engagement.
Social proof is a powerful phenomenon – the more support you have online, the more support you are likely to receive. Most people think this social proof comes in numbers, but real social proof can be gained by encouraging your real customers to engage with you on social media.