The topic of ‘buying social media fans’ came up recently with one of my clients and after several discussions (and a bit of data) I’m glad to report they’ve come to understand that buying fans were not the best thing to do for their business.
I don’t want this post to come across as ‘I told you so,’ but instead it’s a warning to anyone thinking of buying social media fans. I understand the idea of buying thousands of fans for a personal or business social media account is tempting. However, having worked with clients who have spent tens of thousands of dollars purchasing Facebook fans, I’ve experienced first-hand the downside to this practice.
I had one particular client who bought Facebook fans, which, to this client’s credit, gave the general impression that their brand was more ‘popular’ than it was. Although the concept of improving a brand’s perceived ‘social credibility’ through purchasing fans can be appealing it was not providing any real value to the business, especially regarding their bottom-line. The problem with an artificially built fan base is this – you’re buying numbers and not customers. For this client, new posts had incredibly low engagement rates and spoke to a subset of fans that weren’t interested in ever making a purchase. To make matters worse, this client had to spend additional money to pay someone to manage the high number of negative and troll like comments left by these segment fans that had no real interest or respect for the brand.
The majority of people, brands, and companies I come across are still fixated on quantity and not quality – they’re obsessed with their total number of followers, without giving a second thought to the value of these fans. Careful consideration should be paid to a) the engagement rate of these fans i.e. how responsive they are towards the content posted on social media and b) social’s overall contribution to website traffic and conversions (which from my experience, is usually pretty small). If you have a lot of fans, and no one is visiting the site, then you’ve got a problem.
Alarm bells also go off in my head when I notice an irregular pattern of fans across someone’s social media profiles. For example, if a blogger has 15,000 fans on one platform but only 200 on another (and they are posting the same amount of content on both social media profiles) something doesn’t feel right. I’m not singling out those who have bought social media fans because I admit it’s tempting but ultimately it’s a question of value, are you getting your money’s worth?
I would love your thoughts on this topic. What do you think about buying fans on social media?