I was doing some brushing up on my SEO techniques today by reading some modules that Shane, our boss and team leader, recommended. Whilst giving them a read, one of the approved methods that they gave was to get some Fiverr guy to do paid commenting and follows on our social signals.
I was so taken aback by the blatant black hat move that I decided to research if people still buy likes, comments and followers and expect it as something normal. People still do – and for different reasons as well.
There are so many reasons why you should not, in any circumstance, buy these social media vanity statistics. There’s also a lot of ways to do it legit.
Clearing the SEO Ethics Dilemma
Let’s get one thing straight: there’s no such thing as pure, stain-free white hat SEO. If you go simply by the guidelines that Google sets, you should just stop trying optimisation because it’s going against its rules.
The entire purpose of optimising your site is to get the best possible ranking configuration – from meta tags, schema and keyword density, that the algorithms will accept with penalising your domain. As long as the algorithms accept it, we use it regardless of morality.
The idea of having ethics on the internet equates to losing out on powerful ranking manipulation techniques and having to rely on organic growth. Even then, I would still like to believe that being principled about what you do with your domain reflects long-term on how people trust you and how you get to keep your integrity.
Black Hat SEO is so powerfully underhanded but it is a double-edged strategy as well. It’s only a matter of time before Google catches up to whatever unscrupulous thing you’re trying to do.
How Do You Buy Social Media Followers?
There are two well-known ways to buy likes, comments and followers on the internet.
- The “follow bot” original way was to get an automation software that goes into your account, goes into niche-relevant pages and influencers and starts following other people’s accounts. During a certain amount of time, the follow bot will check if the person you just followed has followed you back. If it has not, it unfollows it and moves on.
- The more popular way is to buy an offer of x number of followers for around $3 minimum. What this does is it gives a bulk amount of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram zombie and fake accounts. It then drips the accounts down to a specific amount per day or week to prevent the platform from finding out.
Let’s not be hypocrites. This is an effective way to boost numbers for a variety of different things that social media-based businesses need.
The Pros of Buying Bulk Likes and Fake Profiles En Masse
In some comments in Ian Anderson Gray’s blog, a lot of his audience are hostile to the fact that the British social media guru even suggested that people should not buy followers, citing the plethora of advantages to buying these things. Just look at these:
- This helps break the follower-to-following ratio of Instagram and Twitter, where you need to have at least a positive ratio (more followers than your following count) or at least a 10% difference between the two.
- It creates a vanity number – which is great for social proof. It creates a trustworthy atmosphere for your business.
- It keeps them employed. A lot of niche industries like the fashion industry needs some of their employees to have at least 10k followers and zombies keep their accounts floating
- It becomes a social igniter for any small business or a startup. If people see that a lot of people follow you, they will be more motivated to follow you as well since people “respect you” and they don’t care enough to verify if you have zombies on your account.
Why You Should Not Buy Fake Fans
The number one reason that you should not buy statistics like likes, comments and followers is the fact that they’re against the platform’s terms and conditions. Now, you’re saying – whoever cared for Facebook and Twitter’s terms and conditions? Well if you’re using it as a business, you should.
All the top social media platforms have been purging fake accounts since the start of 2014 and have changed their algorithms ever since. Just recently, Twitter purged a lot of potentially fake followers in many influencer profiles. Your popularity is not about the number of likes that you have. Not even your reach is dependent on your number of followers.
You also run the risk of shaming yourself for being suspended by your social media platform for excessive use of fakes.
Bots Don’t Care About Your Content
Ethics considerations aside, one of the primary reasons that I don’t recommend buying followers is that it screws you up long term. For one, if you have 10,000 followers and 9,500 of them are bots, you can expect to have not nearly enough engagements that will make it your while.
Just imagine you creating a high quality and effective post and you share it… then nobody reads it because you filled your list with bots who just like whatever you post. The name of social media marketing game is engagements and the fact that nobody cares for what you have to offer is unnerving.
Nobody engages with your business because all you have are “people” who have no photos, have less than 5 posts in their entire history and have a ton of other accounts liked.
Post Boosting Becomes More Expensive and Futile
Let’s say you are having an issue with your organic reach in your platforms. The typically smart way to do it is to boost your post – similar to Facebook’s boost system. It lets you get further, with more reach than your fans.
Here’s the thing: you will be paying up to around $10 to $20 for a post boost, depending on the number of days and amount of people the post will reach. Sounds reasonable right? Until you remember that a sizable chunk of your fans are fake profiles who don’t care about your product, don’t care about your offers and definitely don’t care about the value of what you are promoting.
You’re wasting valuable dollars on social media stat padders – something you could have invested on legit PPC ads.
Zombie Accounts Don’t Buy Your Products
Finally, followers that you’ve bought will never buy from you. You have more follows now but it doesn’t matter because they will never click on that link to your landing page. They will never read your excellent copy. They will never convert.
Having a bunch of empty stats looks good on paper, but does it matter in your long-term success?
Imagine the look on your face when you give your accounts a look, see that you have a big amount of followers and yet you only get 2 replies, maybe 4 likes and some comments from people who will never purchase your product. I just can’t imagine the level of embarrassment you may have.
Doing Social Media the Hard, Legit Way
Instead of doing such an unethical move that hurts you in the long run, why not just do it legitimately? There’s a lot of ways to get legit followers without resorting to mass purchases of social media metrics. Here’s a few quick ones.
Go Into Niche Groups and Engage
One surefire way to get real people to follow you is go into the niche groups of your preferred platform, follow social media influencers and start learning and sharing.
If it’s Twitter, engage in fruitful exchanges between you and an influencer within your niche. If it’s Facebook, go into in-depth discussions and share your insights. You can even share your content if it’s relevant to the topic.
If you’re as knowledgeable in your niche as you know you are, people will find your help needed for many pains and your advice or services may be needed.
Be Active in Your Chosen Community
It may sound that this advice and the first one overlaps, but communities form even outside of social media platforms. Being active in your local niche community can net you a lot of either local SEO or nearby clients – an especially welcome addition if you’re a brick and mortar business.
Show a genuine interest in your potential followers’ lives and provide them helpful insights on how to resolve their problems.
This may sound like a clique in all SEO and marketing blogs but aim to provide value to their lives. This value depends from business to business, but make sure that your offer is there not only to make money out of them but to help them enrich their lives.
If they see how genuine you care about their interest, they’re bound to follow you and even buy your offers.
Listen To Your Niche’s Audience
Sometimes, the value of social media comes not from asking people to like your business but rather how you listen to your audience’s needs.
If you get to understand the pulse of the ones in your niche and try to create situations where you can provide such needs through your offers, you’re the hero and they will start following you. Your business should reflect how your products and services address the wants and needs of the people within your niche circles.
Go to Twitter or Quora, find hashtags and trending topics about your categories and start answering their problems. Be the expert on social media that they need. Offer your product straight up to resolve their issue. Link to your article to give them additional insights.
Be useful to them. This may take a bit of time and effort, but it’s much better than getting yourself into trouble for trying to game the system too much.