So, I got this email the other day:
I’d like to advertise on your website for our speedysocial.com site. It wouldn’t be anything obtrusive. I’d like to get either a mention & link in a post or a link on your sidebar leading to our site. We are also interested in banner ads. If you help me out we’d be more than willing to compensate you with social media services such as 1000 Facebook fans or 1000 Twitter followers to maximize your marketing online.
I emailed them back and said that I don’t do ads on my site, but my curiosity was piqued and I checked out their website.
Turns out, you can literally buy Fans, Followers, Likes and Views. That’s what this website is selling. You can purchase 500 Facebook fans for your page for a mere $37. Remember the experiment I did a few months back with FB ads? I didn’t get nearly as many fans, and the price was much higher.
But just a second, here. How does this work??
The only information I could find on the website was this:
Our process for delivering social credibility to your web properties is based on legitimate methods. Essentially, we drive real web traffic to your properties through a network of high traffic blogs, fan pages, twitter accounts and other websites. Some of which we own and others through our partner network.
There are several issues at stake, here.
Engagement: if you’re a business using social media, one of your goals is likely engagement. Facebook and Twitter are increasingly becoming customer service tools: businesses are using them to respond to questions from their clients. And you don’t necessarily need huge numbers for that kind of engagement. You could have 100 or even 1,000 enthusiastic fans, and easily be able to create excellent engagement.
Numbers: the truth is, numbers are impressive. When you go to a Facebook page and see that they have thousands of fans, it creates a favorable first impression. It’s like walking past a restaurant and seeing a huge lineup outside–you assume the food must be good. And, my friend Chris Brandt, who teaches social media marketing at the Nimbus School of Music, argues that engagement can come from numbers. For example, if you have 5,000 Twitter followers, at any given time, only a small percentage of your followers will be online at any given time. Having a large following almost guarantees that every time you tweet, you’ll have some response.
Authenticity is the third issue at stake here. Sure, it’s one of the major tenets of social networking, but what takes priority? Because, to me, there is something incredibly inauthentic about buying fans. In addition, you have no control over the quality of the fans you purchase. Will they engage? I’m guessing not. Their primary purpose is to inflate your numbers so that anyone who visits your Twitter profile or Facebook Fan page for the first time will think you are popular, and probably want to get in on the action.
I put this question out to my Twitter followers yesterday:
I didn’t get one positive response to Speedy Social, or a service like them. Everyone that responded to me agreed with me, that, tempting as it was to get the boost of numbers, that they would rather grow their numbers slowly, organically, and with authenticity.
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.