Follower Economy or The High Price Brands Pay for Pursuing Vanity Metric
Over the last few months I received tons of twitter messages with such offers as “Buy twitter followers for a low price”, “The best prices online! Followers on sale!!”, “We can provide you 10,000 unique twitter followers 100% safely for $... ), etc.
Of course, at a first glance, getting a few K’s of followers/likes within a fraction of time may seem like a perfect outcome. And I must say that many brands and even individuals take the bait. They pay a few bucks and all is set – within 24 hours their follower count increases exponentially. With such a big number of followers, social media account of your brand looks “too influential”. But there is other side of the coin.
By pursuing vanity metric, many brands splash their marketing and advertising budget on buying audience that will never have any interest in what they do. It’s like paying jazz fans to visit a rock concert.
What’s more, if we do a thorough analysis of all those followers, most of them (if not all!) will turn out to be fake accounts, bots and other irrelevant “place-fillers”.
Apart from wasting your money, you also risk to damage reputation of your brand and alienate your existing followers. People who frequently visit your brand’s account because of genuine interest will be the first to notice such a rapid rise in your follower count. Most of them will even start questioning whether it was achieved legitimately. Moreover, there are many tools on the web that can help users identify how many fake followers a particular account has. So, brands who actually care about their reputation, might have to think twice before “artificially boosting their image”.
Many companies and individuals experience utter disappointment when purchased followers start disappearing. Yes, it happens quite often and you can’t control this process.
Let’s be honest. Social media followers aren’t your private property. They can press “unfollow button” for any reason anytime. Now ask yourself this question, “How many people who are not interested in your company/brand will think twice before pressing “unfollow button”?” I guess the answer is quite obvious. Also, don’t forget that in order to ensure the best user experience many social networks might start deleting fake accounts automatically.
As we see, the practice of buying followers doesn’t lead to sustainable outcome. If you want to build a strong brand, you have to understand the primary purpose of social media – building a community of engaged prospects/fans that can be converted into customers. And to do this, you have to think in the long run.
Don’t be tempted into thinking that “high follower counts” will help you to create a solid customer base or result in more sales. Instead, you’ll end up building a community of passive bots who won’t interact with your content.
So what is the right way to do build your audience on social media? I’d recommend to focus on organic growth. Forget about numbers and focus on building relationships instead. Remember that people buy from brands they trust. Building relationships with prospects, educating them and showing genuine interest in them are the key components to building trust.
For your social media efforts to pay off, you have to build the right audience for your brand – people who are interested in what you do and are more likely to become your customers in future. So, first of all, you have to determine your target audience. By knowing who your target audience is, you’ll be able to figure out what content is of the greatest interest to them and is the most relevant.
But don’t focus solely on posting content. Make your brand more human – get involved in conversations, talk to people in the language they understand, make them feel important, reply to mentions and show your gratitude every time someone shares or retweets your posts.
Also, pay a great attention to using relevant keywords and hashtags so that the right people can easily find your content. Keep testing to learn what kind of content performs best.
And last but not least, whatever your social media strategy is, you have to focus on delivering value. Hard selling and pushy messages don’t work anymore. You have to gain deep understanding of what is valued by your target audience. And you can do this by actively listening and asking the right questions.
Bottom line: It takes time and effort to build a sustainable audience on social media. Pursuing vanity metric can do more harm than good. Most often it results in waste of money and time, but doesn’t bring you more customers or help your brand generate greater revenue. Instead of thinking in short term, brands have to focus on attracting the right prospects and delivering value to them in terms of relevant and quality content.
by Natalie Myhalnytska
To measure performance of social media marketing use powerful analytics and social media tools from Sprout Social
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