Let’s face it: It seems simple. It seems tempting. Everyone else is probably doing it, right?
There are many articles that describe the best social media engagement techniques, but buying followers is not one of them. Paid followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook may seem attractive as it is meant to give viewers the impression that your business is popular. There is a belief that having high amounts of likes and follows on social media websites will give your business additional credibility. While I won’t argue that “more” may give the impression of “popular,” the truth is that there are side effects of these services that may work against your marketing in the long-run.
What Are These Services?
There are companies that exist which provide a service of quickly amassing thousands of likes and follows on your social media pages for a fee. Such companies have created thousands of faux accounts on social media sites that are used for nothing other than this service. When a customer makes a purchase, the company uses an automated technique to instruct all of their accounts to follow your page. There is very little human interaction involved.
If You Plan On Purchasing Ads, Don’t Purchase Followers
Do not make the mistake of believing that the likes and follows you purchase are real people. These are not potential leads or customers. Don’t expect them to share or link your content. Think of these social media accounts as robots doing the same thing for everybody.
Those who pay for likes and follows are typically doing so in hopes of growing their exposure. It’s a legitimate assumption that if one is willing to pay for likes and follows, they are probably more apt to purchase advertising on these sites as well.
Let’s imagine that you purchased 5,000 likes on Facebook and 5,000 follows on Twitter. You see your new “fans” pouring in, and you decide that next week to purchase some advertising. Paid ads on these sites work in several ways, but most often will be sent to those who follow your account, as they’re believed to be leads that already show interest in your business/product. After completing your purchase and designing your ad, Facebook will promote your add to you followers. However, in this case the vast majority of your followers are fake accounts from your previous purchase of follows. As a result, your paid ad gets shown to fake, empty profiles with no chance of organic engagement.
Aside from the obvious pitfall of purchasing social media follows as described above, what is the true value of amassing a larger number of fans? I believe a lot of marketers and other decision-makers make the mistake of believing that higher fan numbers reflect a more popular product. The idea that visitors will think “if this business has a lot of fans it must mean it is popular and I should follow them too” is not always correct. As the generation of technology advances, more and more people are becoming aware – whether directly or subconsciously – to these strategies.
While purchasing followers can hurt your outreach and may not be the best, social media provides many other ways to interact with your fans. Let’s discuss some ideas for healthy, organic engagement.
Organic Social Media Engagement
To be successful, the best social media marketing requires implementing two core activities particularly well:
- – Creating great content that begs to be shared
- – Building large and engaged social networks
Tapping into the business power of social media is not an approach that focuses solely on capturing more Facebook likes and Twitter followers. It is about building a brand through a multifaceted approach of creativity, multimedia, and publishing content that begs to be shared. When a user shares your content, they are exposing it to others outside of your typical reach and in essence are attracting new leads to you.
You may be wondering what kind of content to create and promote. A good rule of thumb would be to focus on content that people like to share. The most successful viral marketing tends to be one of these types:
- Special Deals (sales, coupons, etc)
- Humor (see this famous example Oreo created during the Super Bowl blackout on Twitter)
- Cause Marketing
- Other Viral Marketing
Special deals and coupons include promotions that seem exclusive to a small community. One example would be a promotion on Facebook that states a certain item or deal will be activated after a post has been shared x number of times, or once a certain amount of new fans have been acquired. Another example could be a post about a sale that says “Share this with your friends! If this is shared at least 100 times we will select one fan at random to receive a prize!”
Cause marketing is content that is cleverly designed to initiate engagement with the reader. One of my favorite examples is from a user who was promoting his new business startup on Facebook. He created a post on his personal Facebook page with a photo of him holding a $1 bill. In the post he mentions his business and how he promises to donate $1 to charity for each time his post was shared and his business page was liked. He cleverly adds that he only has $20 max to donate, yet the post was still shared over 100 times! On top of this, his strategy was featured in several articles about the best social media engagement – resulting even more exposure.
Genius viral marketing is my term for marketing that appears to be anything but. For example, when Sara Bareilles released her song “Brave,” one incredible marketer had the idea to piggyback off of Katy Perry’s fame by anonymously accusing Katy Perry’s song as sounding similar to Sara’s, indirectly suggesting that one may have taken ideas from the other. Regardless of whether or not the claims are true, it erupted a firestorm of controversy and comments from fans. As a result, many Katy Perry fans were introduced to Sara’s music and became fans of hers as well. Personally, I did not know who Sara Bareilles was until I saw this controversy on Reddit, and later I realized how genius of a marketing strategy it may have been.
Purchasing fans on social media may not have much of a positive effect on your bottom line, and instead could be detrimental to your future exposure. Instead, try designing content like the examples provided above. Our goal is to leverage the power of social media by having viewers entertained, interested, and feeling as though they are in an exclusive club that they want to share with their friends.
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