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Buy your way into social love, by Searchworks’ Nick Garner

21st March 2013

Although I hate to admit it, the reality is that if I see a Facebook page with a load of likes, or a YouTube video with lots of views – I’m more likely to like it or watch it. Same goes for Twitter. I don’t know why this is, call me a sheep, but I suspect I’m not alone in doing in finding reassurance in big numbers. The usual route to winning bigger ‘social’ numbers is to start a ‘content flow’ and socialise heavily online. It’s all a lot of work and a lot of expense. How about just buying your way into thousands of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Google+ circles? I don’t mean bribing users to follow or like you, just go to a site and buy followers... With a nod to Stephen Waddington’s blog that had a look at this issue a couple of weeks back, for research purposes I went to a number of sites selling ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and from that I looked at which services gave the most believable results for the best price: Facebook: You have a choice, you can buy UK likes that are apparently generated from genuine human beings (not bots). For 1,000 UK likes, it will cost you $99. There are cheaper alternatives, so if you are happy with international ‘likes’, for $27.95 you can get 1,000 ‘slow likes’. A slow like is apparently good because they look more natural. If you have pictures on Facebook, then you can buy 1,000 picture likes for only $54.95. Twitter: For £9.97 you can get 1,000 Twitter followers and according to the site comments I’ve seen, they are very good, with real looking follower accounts. Another compelling offer was 25,000 Twitter followers for £69 but that's not all, you also get 500 Facebook fans for free! For 1000 re-tweets, it’s only $180. Google+: 1,000 pluses will cost around $78 and if you want to be in more Google circles then it’s $98 per 1,000. Instagram: 1,000 followers $17. Pinterest: 1,000 followers, only $35. Finally, Youtube: Brands love to see their excellent videos being seen by thousands of people, so how about buying 50,000 views for only $32.49? It’s cheap and your video gets great ‘exposure’! If you did buy these services, real users will feel like ‘someone is home’ when they see your brand and that’s good for building positive sentiment. Even when you ‘earn’ followers, the monetary value of a Facebook follower is very debatable. For instance, depending on how you account for the value of a Facebook like, their value apparently has a baseline average of just $0.21. This low figure makes sense, because on average only1 per cent of Facebook brand followers actually interact with the brands they follow. Maybe faking it is a good idea? There is a problem with being fake, in fact there are lots of problems with it. None of these paid for activities create any real engagement of any kind. None of these followers will ever buy anything from your brand because, of course, none are real. And your client might think you're clever winning all this social activity, until they bother looking into the profiles of your accounts... Conclusion: Faking it makes sense if you are prepared to lie and risk your brand’s reputation, otherwise just hold back on promising too much on social. Written by Nick Garner, MD and founder of Searchworks

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