Is buying a few fake followers really that bad?
As you might know by now, I’ve been managing Twitter.About.com for a few months. This month, I took a break and asked my Twitter followers from @About_Tweeting what their most pressing questions were.
I chose the two that made me cringe most and you might be surprised how my answers turned out. I was.
For example, every time I try to teach a client about Twitter, their first go-to question is how they can set up automatic Twitter feeds. That question makes me cringe every time I hear it. Mostly because it’s hard to teach someone how to use Twitter when you know that their goal is to automate the whole thing.Let me preface this by saying Twitter is my favorite social network. It’s the only one where you can not only maintain a community, but build one, too. I have an entire arsenal in terms of ways to build content to Tweet about.
I do, however, think if you’re a business with no content (BuzzFarmers can solve that!) it’s perfectly fine to attach a few feeds to your account via FeedBurner’s “socialize” function. You can tell it to Tweet out any articles that include a certain keyword from your blog, or blogs you like. This feature is beneficial when you’re trying to maintain a feed meant for news on a certain topic. There’s no way to keep your feed up to date on industry news unless you have someone monitoring your account 24 hours a day. If you do, then great! If you don’t, you won’t be chastised for sprinkling automation in, as long as you’re not using it as your only Twitter strategy.
I hesitate to recommend it, because it can be abused, but alas, it’s there for you to take from it what you want.
Choo Choo! All Aboard the Twitter Train!
And while we’re on the topic of things you shouldn’t do, I was really surprised when I ran a test on buying Fiverr Twitter followers after getting asked many times about buying followers. I’ve been shunning the idea of buying followers for a long time because I think it makes people look stupid, lose credibility, and because the followers are always – and always will be – fake. So, what’s the point, really?
Plus, as a social media professional, clients may compare my account to the guy with 30k fake followers and assume he must have the edge. Yes, his edge is to buy Twitter followers – unfortunately if he did that for his clients, they’d be severely depressed by how many of those fake followers click on their links and engage with them.
But I digress…
But then I was thinking about the psychology of how and why people follow other people. It’s hard to launch a Twitter account with zero followers and slowly build them up. So, basically I launched @About_Tweeting with zero followers and launched a test that I wrote a little diary about on About.com.
For $5 bucks, I bought 2,500 Twitter followers. I figured that number was fairly believable, and a number I’ve attained organically plenty of times. A good, solid number.
To make a long story short, in 30 days, all of the fake follower accounts got deleted, but I was left with 500 real followers. Five hundred in 30 days for an unknown account is pretty darn impressive. I mean, I was doing everything else according to the book, totally legit. I was sending out my own Tweets; I was talking to people; I participated in a couple of Twitter Chats. I had autofeeds streamed into the account for Twitter news, but that only posted about once a day – the rest were all mine.
I didn’t have a Twitter widget promoting the account anywhere, and I wasn’t buying Twitter ads – I just launched with some fake followers, and the rest was what I’d be Tweeting on any normal day. Even by doing everything right in your feed, it’s gosh-darn hard to get 500 followers in a first month from scratch.
The hard truth about social psychology is that people follow the crowd. So, no matter how good my Tweets could have been, a status of zero followers is not convincing enough to get someone to follow me. 2,500? Much more convincing. And let’s be real. Once you’re past that initial point of introduction, it’s still up to you to post good stuff that makes them want to keep following. So I probably won’t admit it again after this test, but I’m secretly now a believer in buying followers as long as it’s a modest number and only when you’re initially creating your Twitter account.
They’re going to get deleted anyway, so you only have to feel like a creep for a short time.
Personally, I wouldn’t do it for myself, my clients, or for BuzzFarmers because it’s easy to figure out who has fake followers and who doesn’t. Also, I care very much about the results of our Tweet and content tests, and 30k fake followers muddy those results all up.
That’s all for this month. If you have any burning questions or ideas for Twitter tests I can run, let me know. There’s nothing I like more than to prove myself wrong!
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn