Why build an audience when you can buy one? Every company wants to have an impressive social following—so much so that buying your way there could feel like an irresistible option. You’ve seen the ads: “$18 for 1,000 Real Likes!” or “Buy Twitter Followers from Only $1!” Who wouldn’t be intrigued by the promise of instant followers, no relationship-building required?
In a landscape where the number of followers you amass is seen as a credibility proof point and not just a vanity metric, you may feel tempted by the siren’s call of “click farms” to buy engagement. Especially with most brands feeling the burn of declining organic reach on Facebook.
Click farms allow you to pay a set amount of money for a set number of likes or followers, giving pages the surface appearance of popularity. Don’t be fooled—you’re not buying real engagement. Promises of instant growth—read: an artificially inflated follower count—can be deeply detrimental to your overall platform presence.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t buy Facebook likes and followers:
1. It hurts brand integrity
Buying likes and followers is not an especially subtle process. Often, the bumps come in the thousands, and can happen practically overnight, making it obvious even to the most casual viewer. What will people think when they see that your page has one million fans, but your last post received only 3 likes? When real fans see a brand buying followers, it devalues brand integrity, hurts future efforts at creating an authentic online presence, and deals a punishing blow to brand transparency, not to mention making you look desperate. Once you’ve lied about one aspect of your company, how can they trust you not to lie about other aspects?
2. Fake likes = lower engagement rates = fewer organic impressions
When you pay for followers, you aren’t paying for valuable eyeballs on your content—or real eyeballs at all. The service that you’re paying for is more than likely powered by bots or scam accounts created expressly for the purpose of capturing followers and nothing else.
In the case of Facebook, an algorithm analyzes the quality of your posts, and uses your overall engagement rate to determine how many of your fans should see your content. Your engagement rate is the percentage of people who saw your post, and then reacted to it by liking, sharing, clicking or commenting. Having thousands of inactive, non-engaged users looks suspicious to Facebook, and therefore, your content will be shown to fewer people. You would be better off having a highly engaged if small following than a large one with little to no engagement around your content.
Twitter also recently switched to an algorithm-based timeline, so purchasing followers there creates the same problem. When you buy likes and followers, your posts are actually less likely to be seen by your authentic fans, seriously hurting your overall organic reach.
3. It wastes your ad money
The purpose of an ad campaign is to increase the number of impressions and engagements content on your pages receives. However, if your followers are mostly (or even partially) comprised of paid likes, your ad money will be spent towards promoting content that will be seen (at best) by disinterested paid likers and (at worst) by spam accounts no one is looking at at all. When you buy Facebook likes and followers, you limit the potential of future ad campaigns to reach interested audiences.
If you do choose to for social media marketing, your money is far better spent paying Facebook or Twitter directly to boost posts or run ads to the authentic followers you already have. It may take longer to reach the sky-high numbers that promise, but you will be targeting and reaching real users within your demographic, and increasing the numbers of real people who know about and engage with your brand.
4. It skews demographic data, harming future marketing efforts
When creating a marketing or communications campaign, one of the first things to consider is your target demographic, or who you are hoping to reach. One of the best ways to determine this is to look at the demographics of those who like your page already, using those attributes to guide and help target your content creation and marketing efforts. When you employ click farms to artificially increase your fanbase, it can dramatically skew follower demographics, mostly at random. Paying for likes makes it impossible to truly understand who your consumers are, hampering long term strategy and the ability to connect with authentically engaged users.
5. Platforms forbid it
Most platforms have policies in place as part of an overall spam protection effort that expressly forbid buying followers. Just because you haven’t been caught yet, don’t assume you won’t be. There are even guides out there today explaining to users how to detect whether a brand has purchased fake likes, so assume as well that your audience is getting savvier.
Don’t buy Facebook likes or Twitter followers. Buying likes can be incredibly tempting, especially when clients are demanding instantaneous results, but it just isn’t worth it. Resist the temptation to take the easy way out, and build your brand authentically using compelling content helped along (strategically, of course) by direct boosts and ad campaigns. Keep it real and enjoy the long-term benefits.