We know how frustrating it can feel. You finally set up those Facebook and Twitter accounts–years after your competition. Everything is looking good, but you feel sort of embarrassed that you only have a few dozen followers. And then you hear there are ways you can buy fake social media followers. And it sounds cheap. Wow! 10,000 followers for $200.

Who can pass up that deal? You should, that’s who. Why?

Social media is for building customer relationships, not for seeing how many likes you can get

Unless your customers are people who set up dozens of social media accounts and get paid a fraction of a penny every time they click a button, then you’re missing the point of why social media is worth your time. Being able to communicate directly with your customers–and potential customers–is why to use social media. Building a large number of followers who will never again see anything you post is a big waste of time and money.

Fake followers will get you punished by the social media platform

You may or may not have heard the clamor recently about Facebook’s algorithm, which only allows you to reach a certain percentage of your fans with your posts instead of all of them. It hinders your outreach even more if it feels like your content isn’t “high quality.” Look at it this way: If you have 100 fans and 25 of them regularly engage with your content, that means your content is reaching 25% of your followers. A decent figure. Now, if you buy 10,000 followers, and still only 25 of them regularly engage with your content, Facebook sees that your content is only reaching 0.2% of your followers. This in turn will tell them you’re not producing valuable content, and cause you to appear in your fans’ Newsfeeds even less—even the people who regularly engage!

A massive audience doesn’t matter as much as you think

Even though Taylor Swift recently argued the importance of social media followers, it should be remembered that such figures are known as “vanity metrics,” and aren’t as important to investors and advertisers as “actionable metrics.” These are active users, engagement, the cost of getting new customers, and (obviously) revenue.

It can ruin your reputation

It’s hard to remember at this point that Mitt Romney even ran for president in 2012, so it’s probably even harder to recall that, during that time, he came under fire for purchasing followers on Twitter. As much as you may hope it is, this act is not invisible to the world. While less savvy individuals may not know what you’re up to, the people who matter will. And it doesn’t do any good to have them think you’re cheating the system.

Focus on your customers and products, and success will follow

Ask anyone who has experienced a boost in revenues after embracing social media and they will all tell you the same thing: It’s about serving customers with a great product or service. Social media can be a great tool to reach out and help customers. Do it well, and your customers become a part of a community that helps lead you into great opportunities.

One last thing: Is promoting your page the same as buying followers and likes?

Both Facebook and Twitter (and the other major social media platforms) provide ways for businesses to buy advertising that promotes their pages or accounts. While they use language that suggests you are purchasing likes and followers, you are not actually buying a set number of followers. You are paying to get your tweets and updates in front of an audience that you can designate by topic, demographic or location. While the followers generated by investing into promotional advertising will likely be legitimate customers or leads, the return on investment varies from business to business. The only way to know if it works for you is to experiment.

And “No” is the answer to the question, “Is promoting your page the same as buying followers and likes?”

(Illustration by SmallBusiness.com/Images: ThinkStock.com)

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