Internet technology, mobile technology & startups

7 reasons why startups should not buy twitter followers

A snapshot of my followers

A snapshot of my followers

I make extensive use of twitter and have amassed a considerable number of followers over the last 12 months or so, but lately I’m seeing more and more followers claiming they can get me thousands more (for a small price).

If you are a new startup whose twitter account appears a little lonely, buying some followers must seem like a tempting proposition – why wouldn’t you want to appear to be Mr. Popular? But buying followers is not the solution, at best it is money wasted, at worst you could be seriously damaging your reputation. Here is a list of 7 reasons why you shouldn’t even consider it.

  1. Bought followers are fake followers. Any new followers obtained through a dodgy purchase are highly unlikely to be active accounts of real people. Instead they are most likely fake accounts that all follow each other but don’t actually serve any real purpose. They won’t retweet your content or become involved in any discussions with you. Twitter followers are great for sharing your content and promoting your business, but fake followers will not do any of these things. Suspect someone of having bought loads of followers? Try out this tool on your own account first, then you can check for fake followers on other Twitter accounts.
  2. You receive zero return on your investment. As explained in the previous point, there really is no value to be obtained from buying Twitter followers – they will not help to promote your business. So what did you get for your money exactly? Nothing! Maybe you enjoyed having your ego stroked, but if that’s important to you, you need to find another line of work.
  3. You are breaching Twitter’s Terms & Conditions. Okay, I exaggerate slightly here. There doesn’t appear to be anything in Twitter’s T&Cs that expressly prohibit this. There are however rules that prevent anyone from creating many multiple accounts. Do you really want to be associated with, and be part of a transaction that finances someone else actively breaking the rules?
  4. Who have you given your payment details to? Closely related to the previous point, you are handing your payment details over to someone who thinks nothing about abusing a service for financial gain. Do you want to help finance such activity and are you comfortable handing your credit card details over to such a person?
  5. Are you damaging your reputation? It is very easy to spot fake followers, either by using a fake follower tool or simply observing their behaviour. Unless you really are Mr. Popular, no one will retain thousands of followers without having followed them back. Be wary of imbalances and also see what sort of interactions and mentions the account receives. You don’t have thousands of genuine followers without getting frequent mentions. What does it say about your character and reputation if it looks like your followers are fake? Why are you trying to fool people?
  6. You run the risk of acting fraudulently. If you make any sort of financial gain by fooling people into thinking you have a large attentive audience of Twitter followers, when you know that’s not true, you could be breaking the law. You wouldn’t want to raise money for your startup on the back of a lie would you? Don’t do it!
  7. Fake followers do not increase your social media reputation. There are a few websites out there that will examine your social media accounts and give you a reputation score, Klout and PeerIndex are two of the more popular ones. Not only do these sites offer rewards for good ratings, but they also act as good tools to allow others to determine whether you are an authority on your area of expertise. Fake followers will do nothing to improve your scores with these tools, in fact it could harm your ranking.

Buying followers really is a bad idea, and hopefully I’ve shown you enough reasons not to do it. If you want to legitimately grow your Twitter followers it will take time, effort and planning. I’ve previously published a 7 part strategy which if followed will start your follower numbers growing quite rapidly and achieving more with your Twitter account.

Let me know your thoughts. Have you bought Twitter followers? What are your experiences?

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