The blogosphere has been busy with chatter regarding a certain company that offers to sell companies followers on Twitter, Facebook fans, and Digg votes. It’s not expensive: Facebook fans go for about 10 cents each. Many companies large and small appear to be interested in this service.
What is the psychology here? Well, think about if you’re in a strange city and you leave your hotel looking for a place to have dinner. Do you go to the restaurant where only one or two tables are taken, or do you go to the one with a ten-minute wait?
Most of us will choose the one with the wait, because if that many people are there, it has to be good. This same principle seems to be working in social media. People are more likely to become ‘fans’ (or followers) of businesses that already have a lot of fans (or followers), because there is the feeling that these businesses must be doing something right.
Is this something you should do? Will purchasing fans or followers for your social media help your word of mouth program? As you know, people who like your business are likely to talk to others about your business. And in my opinion, you want quality over quantity when it comes to word of mouth: you want people who are currently customers of your business, who come in often, and who will be happy to answer ‘yes’ when you ask them to tell others about your store. And in fact, they are more than likely to become your Facebook ‘fans’ and to follow you on Twitter.
I think that “purchasing” fans and followers gives the illusion that your business popular, but it does very little to get people to your place of business.
Of course you could offer a special Facebook or Twitter discount to these newfound fans and followers, and you might get a few people in the door to sample your business. While I don’t have statistics to back this up, I’m guessing that any of the ‘fans’ that you purchase are unlikely to tell others about your store.
So instead of ‘paid’ followers and fans, think about ways to grow your fan and follower bases organically…through the people who chose to be part of your network (social or otherwise).
Ask them to become a Facebook ‘fan’, and then once they do, ask them to invite their network of friends to become fans of your store too (maybe give them a special code that they can share with their friends to encourage them all to visit your place of business). A thumbs up from current customers will do more to bring new people to your store than a big number of followers or fans.
So if you were thinking about buying some new people…think instead about using those funds to give incentives to current customers and their friends.
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