Should you buy followers?

Social Media for Independent retailers:
Should you pay for followers and fans?

When you’re starting out on social media, it’s important to build a strong fan base.  There seems little point in investing time and effort in putting content together if it’s only going to be read by 3 people.  Everyone starts somewhere, and for established large brands things were always going to be easier – the likelihood is that they reserved the names for their social media accounts and kept them as placeholders while they waited for social media to become ‘a thing’, and while they waited, they found that their account naturally gravitated fans anyway.


How do you even buy followers?

Sites like Fiverr feature many sellers offering hundreds or even thousands of followers for less than you'd pay for a fast food lunch.  You don't have to look very hard on the internet (or indeed on the social media channels themselves) to find these offers.  Most services offering to sell followers work on the fact they have control of a large number of other accounts that can follow you back.  The problem with this is that these aren’t real people, they are ‘zombie’ accounts which will never engage with your business and don’t really exist, other than to make money from businesses who don’t realise the negative impact fake followers have.


Other services promising to increase your Twitter followers work by following huge numbers of people and then unfollowing those who do not follow you back within a certain timeframe.  It’s important to note that this activity (on the kind of scale that this paid-for service would operate) is against Twitter’s terms and conditions and there is a chance your account will be suspended or closed completely if you are seen using this method.

To give this service the ability to action this, you’ll have to provide it with your Twitter username and password.  There’s a strong chance this service will then spam your followers in an attempt to gain more customers in the same way they attracted you.  Be wary of any third party service that wants your credentials.  Many legitimate and incredibly useful tools (like HootSuite for example) will need your logon details but always carry out a bit of background research before authorising a new service.


What’s wrong with having fake followers?

We believe it’s better to have 100 followers or fans who are customers or genuine potential customers for your business.  We know that Facebook will only show your posts to a small percentage of your follower base.  If you dilute your ‘hot lead’ followers with fake accounts who are never likely to visit your store (or never likely to exist for that matter) then that percentage of followers seeing your content is less likely to include the relevant audience and more likely to be totally wasted effort.

Bear in mind also that it’s pretty easy to check on how many of anyone’s followers are genuine, using a tool like fake follower check.


So how can an independent retailer get more genuine followers?

  • Put your social media accounts on everything you create, including your website, your business cards, your email signature and your till receipts
  • Invest in a paid campaign to get more likes / followers
  • Create shareable content – interesting and engaging posts that users will want to share with their friends
  • Spend time on Twitter searching for (and following) people who are relevant to your business, based on their location or interests
  • Use hashtags on your posts to encourage new people to find your content
  • Engage with other social media accounts in your industry
  • Keep it visual – Wherever possible use a video or at the very least a few images to tell your stories
  • Ask your family and friends to like your page and share it with their friends too
Marketing for Independent Retailers

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