buying twitter followersWe’ve all been there. You’re working from home one night (maybe one or two adult beverages in), and you’re trying to figure out how to boost your company’s Twitter followers. You’ve put the link on your website, added it to the company’s e-mail signature, you’ve even promoted a few tweets. After thinking for a few more minutes – maybe it’s the wine talking – you start thinking about buying Twitter followers.

Step back from the keyboard before you do something you’ll regret in the morning.

Buying Twitter followers seems like a quick way to improve your stats and maybe meet a monthly goal. There are some big things to keep in mind before you fire up your PayPal account, however.

1. There’s a good chance it isn’t going to work, anyway.

Buying things on the internet feels pretty safe now, but remember when it felt like you were just throwing your money in a river and hoping the thing you wanted to buy would wash up on shore eventually? That lovely feeling is back when you try to buy Twitter followers. You’re using your credit card info or PayPal to pay someone to stir a robot army (more on this later) to follow your company’s Twitter account at some point in the hopefully near future. This isn’t necessarily an industry where you should expect fantastic customer service. A writer for Gizmodo mentions a colleague who thought he was buying 500 followers and wound up with an extra 25,000. Whether you don’t wind up with any followers or wind up with way, way too many, it’s a risky way to spend your company’s cash.

2. No one cares about your follower count as much as you do…

Your follower count is kind of important if you want to be the next Justin Bieber. If you’re interested with engaging with your audience and offering content that strengthens your brand (which is what you should be interested in), the number of your followers isn’t what’s important. It’s the quality.

Social media works as a marketing tool because it gives you an easy way to connect with the people who want to connect with you. Buying Twitter followers, almost all of whom will just be shell accounts that exist only to follow people who want to buy followers, misses that point entirely. Worrying about your follower count is like worrying about how many people came to your party – and totally forgetting to ask if anyone there actually had a good time. If you’re buying followers, it’s even worse. You’re filling your party with cardboard cutouts of celebrities and counting those as real party-goers. (Protip: the cardboard cutouts aren’t having much fun.)

As your company produces and tweets awesome content, the people who want to connect with you will find you. Focus more on getting retweets and engagement with real people. Your followers will grow organically.

3. But the people who do care will hate you for buying followers.

Imagine that you’re cruising Twitter looking for photos of North West or a little post-World-Cup  pick-me-up from Men in Blazers and you see one of the people you follow has retweeted a post from a company you’ve never heard of. It’s good enough content that you want to click through and learn more, so you check out their bio, profile picture, and then you want to see what sort of people follow them.

And then you find a string of 50, 100, maybe even a thousand followers that don’t have profile pictures, or have nonsensical bios, or seem to be teenagers taking selfies.

Even if you liked the content you originally saw, is this a company you still want to follow? Buying Twitter followers will do more than boost a number on your profile page. It does more than giving you a new stat you can share in your monthly marketing meeting. It changes the way your company is perceived by the most engaged users – the exact people you’re looking to reach on social media.

These are just a few of the reasons buying Twitter followers probably isn’t a great fit for your company. More than anything else, though, it’s a strategy that distracts you from what really works: creating awesome blogs, videos, e-books, and other content that people want to engage with. Make that happen and the followers will take care of themselves.