Why Buying Fans or Followers is Not a Good Idea

In a recent post on LinkedIn by Nik Hewitt he talks about the “Fan and Forget” syndrome that happens when people buy fans or followers via a contest or promotion, uploading email lists, or flat out purchasing them via third party sites. While I agree with the concept that most people who are lured in to “like” your page or follow your brand are most likely to forget about you after they do it, I disagree with the statement that you shouldn’t promote the “like” or  “follow us” via an interactive engaging way like a contest or sweepstakes.

The point of social media is to be social. Part of being social is having engaging content. If you’re not sure how to do that, then see a previous post I wrote on 7 Things Nonprofits Can Talk About on Facebook Besides Themselves. Although that post was written for nonprofits, it basically applies to all businesses.  That’s another reason why I like Nik’s point about posting once a week about your product/service. Then people will start to listen, rather than you post about yourself ever day.

What I disagree with:

When people are on social media they want something to do besides stalking their friends’ photos. That’s why a contest, promotion, quiz, poll, etc. is worth the investment. Now sure, they may not come back to your page ever again, but they will see you in their news feed and if you play your cards right, you may convert them to a customer/donor or better yet, find someone in their network who you convert.

And uploading your email list seems like a good way to let people know you are on those social networks. They still need to opt in (like or follow) so I don’t see any harm here.

What I do agree with:

What I do agree with Nik on is that buying fans or followers from third party sites is a waste of money. Most of these sites have an enormous amount of fake accounts that tweet the same thing over and over or worse, have no tweets. Why would you follow someone or want someone who is following you who doesn’t tweet? Same for Facebook, why would you want to buy fans who have less than 10 friends? The point is to amplify your message to as far as it can go and that point kind of gets stifled when the person doesn’t interact in the social network or has a limited network themselves.

Often times you’ll see this on Twitter:

I mean, who in the heck is following her when she doesn’t tweet at all?? The best part is, I bet you that’s not even her face. It’s probably someone’s photo that someone picked up off the internet.

Thoughts? Leave a comment below.

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.


  1. […] but before they engage with their audience, they need followers! And I’m not talking about buying followers. I’m talking about growing them — organically. Here’s a quick video that I think […]