What do Sean “Puffy” Combs, Pepsi, President Obama and us have in common?
We’ve all bought Twitter followers.
Buying Twitter followers is a popular method to gain fans. It’s easy, it’s quick. it’s cheap and can potentially drive your amount of followers through the roof. Great, right? Well, no. Our experience has taught us a lot. Some people are adamantly against the idea while others see it as a complete waste of money.
Still, we’d read a lot about it and seen a lot of hype on the internet, so not being ones to shy away from experimenting, we bought some. What was on our minds at the time? Well, we wanted to create some buzz and a little excitement – get people interested in our account. We wanted to find real followers so that we could tell them about Colombia and hopefully bring them to the country. It was, ultimately, to see what the fuss was about and to hopefully get more attention.
But what we were thinking is much less relevant and important than what we’ve found, and that’s what we’re sharing with you today.
The truth is that our experience with buying followers was a mixed one that came with some benefits but also some major problems. Sure we got more followers, but at what cost? And sure the practise has a murky reputation, but are there some pros?
Buying followers, our experience
So there we are, staring at the roughly 4,000 follower statistic on our Twitter feed and wondering just how to make that thing grow. We search on the internet for advice and we come across several articles talking about buying followers, and how it helps generate attention. We’re intruiged.
We do a little investigating into some companies offering the service and find most of them seem extremely shady. Eventually, however, we come across a seemingly legitimate website that promised “vanity followers”: these followers wouldn’t be merely bots, these would be genuinely active accounts that post, retweet and interact (of course, not necessarily with us). Great, we think. These are real people and we get to boost our Twitter numbers.
We sip our coffee, we scratch our balding crowns and we wonder whether to take the leap. It’s tense. Pulses race, our minds flitter and our fingers hover indecisively above the left-click button of the mouse.
It’s cheap, we do it. Our curiosity and our desire to get the word out about Colombia get the best of us and we go through with it. Optimism runs through our pores; is this the way to the next level on Twitter?
We agreed upon 5,000 followers.
This 5,000, however, quickly morphed into more than 12,000 in the course of the following two weeks. We watched, bemused, as the number kept growing. It was as if someone had left the tap on and followers were gushing in, overspilling and flooding our account. Sure, this meant out number total was even higher, but we were aghast. This wasn’t what we’d planned. Of course, we didn’t want our numbers to be that high, we only wanted to get people to notice us a little, not become Justin Beiber.
At first a few hundred left and quit following us. We hoped this would continue until we got back to what we felt was a reasonable number but it didn’t, and we were stuck with an obviously inflated amount of “followers”.
Still, we then started to notice something cool. Within a week or so we’d gained another 100 followers. Genuine ones. These guys loved travel and they loved Colombia, so we could genuinely interact with them and achieve our goal (which is to attract people to Colombia via See Colombia Travel, our travel agency). Our new Twitter followers, we hoped, would drive new traffic to our site and hopefully in the long run encourage more people to use our service.
The pros of buying followers are pretty easy to guess. Big accounts with a lot of followers look cool, and the clout that a big number of followers can bring is real. With 10k or more followers you stop looking like the little business that could, and start strutting your stuff as the big business that did.
Similarly, a big number of followers attracts other people to follow; if an account is popular, people are inclined to check it out. Call it a bandwagon or whatever, but apparently that’s the way it works.
Moreover, buying followers is in no way illegal and, while more condemned, many consider that it may not be a million miles away from buying promotion on Twitter and Facebook. That, however, is an issue for each person to individually consider.
Of course, these follower dudes don’t interact. That not only hurts our feelings, it also leaves the whole process a little hollow. Yeah we’ve got a nice number and it looks pretty sitting below our @colombiatravels tag, but a great deal of those numbers aren’t going to be chatting to us any time soon, and that’s what we really want on Twitter.
There’s also the question of reputation. Thanks to the infamous reputation of this practise, people that invest a lot of time and energy in building communities (like ourselves) are rightfully a little peeved by such a quick and easy way to build numbers. Solace, of course, is found in the fact that these numbers mean little in the face of a strong and active community, which we’re proud to still have around.
Twitter (and social media in general), we acknowledge, is a place to build relationships, communities and talk with people that are invested in you. Buying followers ostensibly goes against this idea, since your followers aren’t there to interact with you; merely to boost that delicious number that follows your profile everywhere.
We wouldn’t recommend buying followers. It’s great that we found more real followers on Twitter and we can continue to build a thriving community with active online relationships, but the whole thing just left us feeling a little “meh”. We wanted to try it, but overall it didn’t work.
Now we’re faced with the rather daunting task of simultaneously trying to rid ourselves of these fake followers, while attracting new followers to our community. Lovely.
In any case, we hope to see you very soon on Twitter for a chat.
Since we wrote this post we’ve been struggling with trying to get rid of the fake followers manually (a very time consuming task) and refusing to pay the absurd amounts of money that some companies try to charge to get rid of them automatically… until we found this FREE, very easy to use script that detects and erases fake followers automatically: http://followersbegone.com. Give it a try, but be aware that it is a little TOO effective and that you have to check who are you deleting before actually doing it. We weren’t careful enough and now we’ve got a lower number of followers than we originally had! Well, that’s the price you have to pay for your mistakes we guess. And if you’re not a bot, remember you can follow us here: https://twitter.com/colombiatravels