I’d Like to Buy a Friend for $25.00, Pat

Sounds like a line from Wheel of Fortune.  Buying vowels to increase the likelihood that you will solve the puzzle. And it definitely works.  After all, the more letters you had, the more likely you were to solve the puzzle.

But, does this work in social media?  Will you increase the likelihood of selling more products or services if you purchase your fans and followers?  Unfortunately, I’m not sure there is a definite answer to this.  I am sure it is a morally grey area (and not permitted by Twitter’s Terms of Service).

By purchasing fans or followers, you will increase your reach.  You will also offer the perception that you are “bigger” or more “popular” than you actually are.  But is this a bad thing?

On May 17th, an article by Bill Rundle appeared in Ragan’s PR Daily entitled, “PR Pro:  I Bought Twitter Followers” and I began to wonder of the validity to the theory that we are only as good as the number of followers/fans that we have.  The author did just that.  He began a new twitter account to accompany a new blog he had begun.  In the beginning, he was having trouble gaining traction, as he was only attracting friends to follow and he was stuck at 30 for some time.  He then decided to run an experiment whereby he would purchase 2,000 followers to see if this increased the number of followers he could attract.  After all, he admits (as do I) to looking at people’s follower count before deciding to follow them.

As his experiment went on, his following increased, he had perceived credibility.  But, isn’t social media about building based upon word of mouth?  Were these newly acquired followers really helping him spread his influence?  Maybe.  Since people were now following him based upon his perceived value, he was increasing his reach.

So, is it a bad thing to be perceived as bigger than you are?  I was speaking with a potential client today about just that very thing.  Except we were talking about registrations.  Doesn’t it look better if lots of people are registered for an event?  It makes that event seem like something you would be crazy to miss.

Buying fans and followers will accomplish the same thing.  But, they won’t be engaged fans and followers.  They will be just a number.  And, as an aside, according to Mr. Rundle, Twitter removed the followers he bought after the story appeared.

So, should you buy fans and followers?  I don’t believe so.  It takes hard work to build a business, and it takes hard work to build a following.  A following of people who believe in what you do, and are willing to help you spread your message.  Honestly, and without concern for their own benefit.

It takes time to build the trust we need to succeed in a social economy.  And, you can’t buy trust.

Have you purchased fans or followers?  Was it worth it?  Would you consider it?  What do you think of it?


Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.



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