Is Buying Fake Fans For Social Media Channels a Good Idea?

Nov 20, 2013

Many business owners, in an effort to create a more impressive social media presence, consider purchasing fake fans or followers for their social media sites. While this practice is not uncommon, it is counterproductive, and can actually harm your SEO ranking. More than that, it can damage any relationship you may seek to build with genuine customers and interested followers. Below are some reasons you should never buy fake fans for your social media channels.

Results Are Not Sustainable

When you buy fake fans or followers for your social media channels, the goal is, presumably, to create a huge online following, or to appear as though you have one. The point of attempting to have a large social media following is that if people are following you, presumably they’re patronizing your business. Social media then allows you to keep up with your followers, update them on various product offerings, encourage them to visit your site or store, offer coupons and other deals, and grow your customer base. But if you buy your followers, all you’re doing is creating an illusion of a social media following. Even if you pay, say, 200 people to follow your site, those people will only do what you pay them to do because chances are they have little to no genuine interest in what you have to offer. So chances are they won’t actually keep up with what you’re doing, or care at all about what you have to offer. Essentially, this leaves you with a large number of followers that looks great on paper, and absolutely no interaction with those followers, no growth, and no sustainable results for your business. Refer to graphic below:

Buying Fake Fans

Creates Confusion With Organic Followers

Even if you managed to pay off a great deal of people to follow you or be your fan on social media, chances are you’ll be earning some amount of organic followers, as well. In other words, someone out there is bound to be interested in what you have to offer and follow you on social media. So when you start to commingle people who were paid to be your fans and followers with those who genuinely are, the entire balance of social media gets thrown off. It makes the experience very confusing to those who are following you of their own free will because the paid followers won’t act naturally as most people who follow businesses on social media normally do. You’ll wind up with two sects of followers, and this can be more problematic than helpful.

Distorts Analytics Reporting

Another reason that buying fake social media fans is a poor choice is because it distorts any analytics reporting you receive. If you track the activity of your social media pages as an indicator of business success, paying for followers makes it completely irrelevant, as you’ll be tracking a farce.

Misrepresents Your Company to Others

Most of the time, business owners purchase fans or followers because they want to appear as though they have many. This, presumably, will attract others to the business’ page and possibly to the website. If you’re using false numerics to bring in business, you’re misrepresenting your company. Long-lasting customers are built on trust and relationships, and you’re undermining that from the very beginning by purchasing fake followers and fans in an effort to look popular or large.

It’s always best to go with organic, genuine followers. Not only will it help you build trust and relationships with your customers and prospects, but you’ll have more accurate analytics. Additionally, by allowing your business and online presence to grow naturally, you can spend less time seeking and paying for followers, and more time building up the aspects of your business that will naturally attract fans, followers, and customers.

  • Mithu Hassan

    Informative and useful post !

    • Gary Brewer

      Thanks Mithu, are running into this too? Many channels are polluted now with Fake Fans that are not engaged and which is degrading the integrity of the conversations.

      • Mike Cook

        Gary, How do fake fans degrade the integrity of a social channels messaging? Do fake fans just add jibberish on the page? If so, can’t you just remove them from the social channel?

        • Gary Brewer

          Mike, the secret sauce to high engagement is creating relevant content pushed to relevant fans. Another thing that is important is to have fans that are active plus have lots of fans or followers. Lastly, you want some synergy with demographics. If my target community is women over 40 living in the USA and my fans are all under 18 and live in India as an example I am probably not going to get much engagements. When you have all of these elements in a social media campaign the benefits are increased reach, impressions, clicks, shares, retweets and comments. Regarding your question, you can remove them from the channel but a lot of brands want the vanity of a big community and it always easy to tell when fans are fake. A great took for Twitter to see how Fake a channel is

          • Mike Cook

            Just like websites, people don’t know how to use their marketing channels. They don’t set goals and take appropriate actions to prepare and monitor them. They are short timers looking for a quick fix and taking as little time as possible to “-Keep up with the Jones’-” They throw things out and hope they stick. Sadly, there are people in our industry, claiming to be online marketers that employ this philosophy, but on the upside, leaders like you and I stand out as pros and rightly so.

            Online marketing is much more of a science than assumptions and hunches. It should be obvious to most people, any digital marketing initiative should have a plan that can be projected, measured, and challenged for its reliability.

            Today, you accurately point out how people use black hat tactics to make something out of nothing and you take the time to challenge someones marketing efforts to Buy Fans.

            Obviously, relevant content with the correct audience drives engagement and engagement drives conversions. The more I study and implement website analytics the more I understand the wasteful efforts like “Buying Fans” people introduce to their digital marketing efforts.

  • SEO Expert Steve Wiideman

    My favorite commentary (skit) on this subject is brought to you by The Onion:

    I don’t always use Twitter, but when I do, I prefer real followers over bots. 😉

    • Mike Cook

      LOL, “using your brains to think of an idea and your skills to implement it” Inefficient Ha! Good one Steve.

  • Gary Brewer

    I love this and have seen it before. We are doing a story on the migration from print and media spam to digital spam. Same story different platform when human behaviors are based on the herd mentality..

  • Mike Cook

    Disclaimer, nothing beats a pure organic follower! Also, we must remember that social channels are just one influence in the multi-channel funnel environment we work in and should be analyzed as such.

    The real question is how people are using Social Channels to accomplish their business & marketing (short and long term) goals.

    Purchasing fans on social channels really depends on what you do with them, WHAT YOUR BUSINESS GOALS ARE, and how good you are at converting these purchased fans into what you want. In other words, “What is your plan for purchasing them”. Although Killer Surf Links does not purchase unqualified leads such as fans, as an digital marketer I have seen business cases where it worked, but they had product and a plan.

    Yes, as stated above it does misrepresent your company if you are after the all elusive “Look how many followers we have” but let’s not forget why you SHOULD want the fans in the first place…that is, to get to as many eyeballs as you can, as often as you can in the hopes to achieve a conversion or business goal. For example, what if your goal of purchasing fans was simply a branding display campaign, i.e. getting your logo or brand in front of as many eyeballs as you can? In this case, you’re buying a marketing channel with the sole intention of branding.

    Regarding the fact that having organic fans commingled with purchased fans. Even a pure organic fan base will have a mixture of “interested” and “non-interested” fans. The messaging used to market in a social channel must address all parties and be related to the intended goal.

    RE:Distorts Analytics Reporting – The aggregate data provided by social stats will not provide anyone with meaningful decision making information. As a website analyst, I believe metrics must be added to your main digital property with all online and offline channels pointing to it. This must be implemented so you can measure and analyze with segmented custom data. I don’t believe anyone can measure visitor behavior, events, campaigns, or goals with the metrics provided by social channels. Although, we can (and should) track the funnel into our main web properties as it’s the measurement we use to determine the success or failure of our marketing goals.

    In closing I just want to say, I believe there are cases when buying social fans will work with specific business models with specific goals, especially if you can buy fans with specific interests.

    Hey, how do you find a reputable company to buy leads from anyway :-)


    • Gary Brewer

      Mike, I purchased leads from Web Leads in Los Angeles and the experience was not good. I would not recommend buying Leads from any company that sells leads to multiple companies. Regarding your comments garbage in, garbage out. Thanks for the thoughtful comments and for reading our Blog! Merry Christmas to you and your family!