First thing first, this is a guest post, and a guest post from someone who thrives in the murky underworld of buying Twitter followers, Facebook Fans, Instagram Likes, and everything in-between. However, with this vested interest comes an insight into the types of people that pay for followers, the reasons that they do, and the impact it has after the purchase has been made.
In April 2010 we contacted 2,100 individuals and agencies who had purchased from our network of 13 sites over the past 24 months. They were asked to complete a 10 question survey:
We had 910 responses, a very strong response rate – potentially because we offered free twitter followers in exchange for their information.
We have selected the most informative, interesting and relevant responses to the second question:
We have categorised the responses into five distinct types:
Type 1: I’m Fooling my Friends
By far the most popular result; we categorised anything as “I’m Fooling my Friends” if the responses referred to buying followers for myself as a joke (119), or buying followers for my friends as a joke (66). With a total of 185 responses this is the largest positive response of all.
This could indicate that the followers are not to be taken seriously and are in fact just for fun, but we also saw it as the only real option if you bought followers for yourself and you wanted to avoid embarrassment.
One interesting response was:
I bought followers because I thought it would be funny to see peoples reaction to me having 25,000 followers – it was funny but it wore off pretty quickly.
To answer the question: “Would you purchase social media engagement again?”
No I wouldn’t do it again because when you get new followers who know anything about Twitter, they soon call you out on it, and saying I did it for a joke doesn’t really cut it.
Type 2: I’m Fooling my Boss
We receive a large number of queries asking us about the quality of our facebook fans – particularly if they will pass a “glance” test:
We received 35 positive responses to fooling my employer. The most informative of the answers being this one:
I’m a web designer and the extra follower [sic] of FB and Twitter are recorded on my portfolio – when applying for jobs I think it makes a difference to the recruitment agencies.
This is a nuclear option – as if you are found out to be promoting yourself with bot accounts, you wouldn’t get the position, depending on the industry you are in it could be very damaging to your reputation long term.
The flip side of the risk is that you might actually get the position, and you could always remove the fake followers after you are employed.
Type 3: I’m Fooling my Customers
Type 4: I’m Fooling Advertisers
Our most popular package is 1,000 followers added slowly over the course of a month; and it is largely purchased by new websites with no social presence and limited content on the websites.
If you run a website and want to attract advertisers to it, Facebook fans and likes are a metric that is used to value the engagement of your site. Many agencies look for the Page Rank, Domain Authority, Quality of Backlinks and then the social engagement. As long as advertisers continue to value the quantity rather than the quality of the followers and likes this is likely to remain the same.
A typical response to “Type 3” was:
Look I don’t agree with it and the bots are useless as they don’t do anything but nobody wants to follow a business with 20 followers as we won’t be taken seriously – look at [Removed]. How can I compete with that when there is just two of us working part time on the site?
Sticking with the same customer – the last question on the survey is “Would you recommend the service to your friends and colleagues, if so why? If not, why not?”
One answer to this was:
Absolutely not, and you can email me 1,000 times offering free followers and refer a friend deals but I would never tell anyone that I used your services!
Type 5: I’m fooling nobody
It’s rare that we receive repeat custom from a buyer purchasing followers; as the number just keeps rising and rising and there are diminishing returns on each additional follower.
That being said we have had a handful of users who continually purchase (twitter) followers and continually tweet the fake followers. One such user has over 85k followers on twitter and 10k Facebook likes, tweets 5 times per day and has never had one mention or one natural follower.
The user is fully aware the accounts are bots as he has been in regular contact asking for tweaks to the demographic of his fake followers.
So why do these people buy followers? It’s possibly a self-esteem issue, which makes a moral question of whether the fake followers benefit him or cause him more problems.
He didn’t reply to our survey.
Guest author Steve Stretton thanks Social Barrel for hosting his company’s side of the story. He will gladly answer any questions directly through their website or via the comments section below. For more details about the services or to request a sample please contact him at Followersboost.com, mentioning Social Barrel.