Fake Twitter followers: An easy game, but not worth the risk
Sitting cross-legged in the leather chair of my home office, it took me fifteen seconds to find someone who was willing to sell me 2,500 “quality Twitter followers” to boost my account — for the low price buy youtube views of about $25 bucks. The followers would arrive in three days and stick around for the whole year, more than doubling my current follower count of around 1250. I felt pretty comfortably smug about myself, especially considering I’d gotten this far by dumbly typing in “How to buy Twitter followers” into my Chrome bar. I leaned in, determined to make the transaction, and tried to convince myself to click the button.But, perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The taboo of actually buying my own followers, and the risks associated with real fans finding out, gave the experience a sort of grime that deterred me from going through with it.That doesn’t mean it deters everyone: The practice of buying Twitter followers (or Facebook fans, Instagram followers, etc.) is as old as social media itself, hinged on the archaic notion that quantity trumps all in the social interaction sphere. Some of the most well-known politicians and celebrities in our social strata are accused of puffing up their own numbers with these followers — often assessed as thoughtless and friendless robots keen on spamming Viagra ads — to make themselves seem more influential and dominant on the platform of choice. But, on the other side of the coin, startups and rookie social media experts can just as easily be drawn in by a siren song of this so-called “follower economy,” with its promise of instant credibility and cache in the wider community.
Is there a gray area?
Whether unethical, illogical, ineffective or dangerous, voices from all areas of social media are quick to label purchasing followers as a poor practice. Meanwhile, other concepts such as promoting hashtags buy youtube views high quality and inserting “sponsored stories” into a feed remain fully supported by companies, marketers and independent businesspeople alike.Is the line so clearly drawn in the sand? As the nature and purpose of social media continues to change, the methods behind marketing and branding will change, too. Purchasing Twitter followers may become a thing of the past — Barracuda Networks believes there’s a possibility that security measures could drastically decrease the practice over time. But that doesn’t mean that other methods won’t take on a shadier or more sinister approach to connecting with others in the future. At this point, though, the message is pretty clear. Buying followers is the easy route, but it’s like cheating during your favorite board game: you’re likely to be labeled a fraud and a cheat than win like you wanted to.There are ways that you can engage in cultural conversations in a way that puts you in a new light. It’s an awareness tool, it’s a tool for brand positioning, it’s a great place to launch a new product because you can get yourself on the radar with people who wouldn’t ever think to like you on Facebook or otherwise check you out,” Schaeffer says.Marketers are doing their best to distance themselves from the follower count, branding it a “vanity metric” and touting that an engaged base is better than a broad one. But that still leaves the question…
The new conventional wisdom
Another part of the fake follower equation — and one often ignored — is the role of the marketer. Many companies come to marketing companies to simply “build as many followers as possible,” and that leads to a buy youtube views problematic situation for those who have made their careers on growing and building follower bases on social media networks. If you could get your job done for $50, and receive a payment that’s an order of magnitude higher, what’s stopping marketers from doing that same thing?It turns out, a lot: out of dozens of marketers, not a single one advocated for buying Twitter followers or fans for any platform.“It’s a bad practice, ” says Jason Weaver, CEO of social CRM company Shoutlet. “It reminds me of the early days of email when you would just spam the heck out of people and just hope that they buy your product.”Weaver is a firm believer of the exact opposite philosophy many Twitter follower abusers hold: It’s not about the size of a follower group, but the quality of the follower counts. Just a handful of “active followers” — that is, people who are likely to retweet and engage with tweets — are infinitely more valuable than hundreds of robotic place-fillers that are little more than a number. For example, Weaver worked with a healthcare client that specifically targeted anesthesiologists, which is a remarkably small subset of everyone in the healthcare profession.