Recently I had a conversation with Jeff Brown of Alpha Computer about many things social. One of the many topics covered was about building a strong community and the value of a Twitter follower. A concerning trend discussed is the increasing occurrence of “buying” a community.
Perhaps I am naïve. I cannot see a legitimate reason for either a person or business to buy followers. The purpose of building a community (which generally takes time and effort) is to establish a group of people that are genuinely interested in what you are offering and see value in following you. It is an opportunity for you to be engaged with brand loyalists and potential brand evangelists. It is an opportunity to increase the stickiness of your brand.
Maybe I am just ignorant to the possibilities that exist within the artificially acquired community. Is it possible that completely disengaged follow-bots can help build a strong community? Will a potential followers be more likely to follow if there are already hundreds (or thousands) of followers? I know that the number of current followers does not influence my decision to follow. I look for good content, interesting conversation and humility in posts. If I am interested then I will follow.
One possible explanation for this proliferation of services like Buy A Follower is the need to show results inside of social media programs. If the community is growing too slowly, throw a little fertilizer on it and presto – there is an extra thousand followers. Reporting a metric like this to the C-Suite validates the program, or does it? What is the value of a follower?
I believe that a social community which has been correctly cultivated and grown organically with good content will return far more value than the rapidly or instantly acquired community of follow-bots. There is more value in 100 followers that are actively engaged with your brand than there is with 10,000 followers that have little to no interest in what your company does. I prefer quality over quantity, every time.
If anyone can validate the purchasing of followers, I’d welcome being enlightened. If your comments are intriguing I just might follow you!