Social Media’s Black Market

In just a few short years, social media has become a pivotal form of advertising. Although time-consuming, it’s a free and low-effort way to get your business name and message to a high volume of eclectic people. However, when it comes to social media as a marketing tool, it’s a sheep’s game. The more people that follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook, the more people are likely to follow suit. This is because we associate popularity with greatness. Take product reviews for instance; we’re more likely to buy something with a 5 star rating simply because we assume those 5 stars are based on honest reviews, and the product is superior than something with a 3 star rating. With this mentality, the more people that like or follow you on social media sites, the better you must be. Also, the more people that like or follow you, the more exposure you’re getting because friends and followers of those people will come in contact with your business name. In theory, anyway.

Buying social media followers is extremely cheap and easy. Websites like ReTweeto and FriendRise, along with countless individuals on Ebay, will sell you about 1,000 Twitter followers for under $20.00. So when it’s so easy and affordable to raise your follower growth, why shouldn’t you do it?

First, most of those accounts are fake. So while it may look nice on your Twitter and Facebook account that you have a large number of followers or likes, you’re not technically reaching more people via these accounts. In turn their ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ don’t actually exist, so you’re not getting any advertising through them.

Secondly, Google knows what you’ve done. Yes, that’s supposed to scare you. Don’t be surprised though: Google knows everything. Google has all the data, and their algorithms and equations put up red flags when there are unnatural deviations from the norm. And yes, Google monitors your social media accounts. Twitter also knows what you’ve done, and it is against Twitters official rules to participate in this shady business. Although Twitter doesn’t seem too concerned with terminating accounts who buy robot followers right now, we may see this change in the future.

Lastly, it compromises the integrity of all social media sites. These sites were created to be honest and transparent online manifestations, and while most of us are guilty of glorifying our lives a little, duping the system with fake accounts will lower the morality of these sites even further. This means that social media as an advertising tool will become useless. If the average user is aware that companies can buy online popularity for a very low price, the less they will be influenced by that little number in your Followers or Likes box.

Facebook recently released a statement saying they had roughly 83 million fake accounts. Twitter has even more because it’s easier to dupe, as creating an account on Twitter is more low-key. This makes Twitter a cheaper way to go in the black market social media game. But it’s getting easier to spot fakes, and we all know with the Mitt Romney Twitter scandal that you’re likely to get found out fast if you’re dealing in the deep dark world of social media’s black market. For those of you who don’t know, Romney’s Twitter account gained 100,000 followers overnight, and it did not go unnoticed. Spotting fake Twitter accounts is simple if you know what to look for. Most are usually only a few months old, and have little activity besides creation. You’ll also notice the fakes are always following thousands of people, while they’re never being followed.

There’s a new web app called StatusPeople that allows you to check how many fake accounts are following someone on Twitter. The app gives you a ‘good’, ‘inactive’, and ‘fake’ percentage breakdown of accounts. This is a very useful tool for checking follower validity, and can help keep companies honest when it comes to social media. You may be able to fake it for a while, but do you really want to be “that guy” when it comes to your social media account? The best practice for your business account is this: quality not quantity. Put some dedicated time into growing your social media presence. It doesn’t take much effort to sit down and create some tweets/posts that will help promote your business while peaking interest. With sites like HootSuite it’s also very easy to create all of your messages in advance, so your social media accounts will constantly be active and spewing out awesomeness without you actually having to post something every day.

Ultimately, the best practice is be honest, and let things happen naturally. Social media is certainly not going anywhere, so there’s no rush to get super popular overnight. As with SEO, the organic route is better than paying for it. Be patient, and spend a little time every few weeks to schedule your social media posts so your presence is constantly felt. Posting erratic Tweets won’t make a large enough impact on your followers and won’t get you many new ones. Make sure to keep your tweets interesting as well; no one is following you so they can hear the same recycled information about your promotions or what products you carry. People want to read interesting facts about your business and your industry, so think outside the box when it comes to what you share. Make sure to keep your posts appropriate as well: your social media account may be run by you, but it’s portraying your business to the world, so make your company stand proud online.

If you’re looking for help when it comes to Social Media Management, Inspiratica is your answer. We’ll help you manage all your social media sites and create unique content that will boost your online popularity and help your organic SEO. So think twice before buying your friends, and make a real one with us instead.