Buying the zeros – how I wasted a fiver | Proactive PR - Content that counts

Buying the zeros – how I wasted a fiver

*If you’re looking to use it proactively, there are palpable benefits of having a large following on Twitter, regardless of whether you’re a representing a brand or just being yourself.

In its bluntest sense, Twitter is a content sharing platform and your followers can be a powerful unit if harnessed correctly, raising your “brand” awareness through natural interactions. Having large numbers of followers also adds a layer of trust to someone coming across your profile for the first time.

However, there is a shortcut to adding some zeros to that number – buying them.

While I don’t claim to be anything close to a social media wizard/guru/ninja (delete as applicable), I’ve acquired more than 2,300 followers from 18,000 tweets over five years. Over the past year, I’ve averaged a trickle of around 10 new followers a month – disregarding the odd spike – so a big influx of new followers in a short space of time will be the Twitter equivalent of the Hoover Dam opening.

A simple Google search for “Buy UK Twitter Followers” brought back more than 9,000 results, with prices starting at £2.81 for 100 followers. Taken aback by the low price, I went for the 1,000 followers option, costing me £4.89 and delivered over a period of up to three days.

Lo and behold, around two days later my package was delivered, although it was probably the social media equivalent of being left a parcel in the wheelie bin on collection day.

On a purely superficial scale, the desired effect was achieved – my follower numbers increased towards the 3,500 mark. However, scratch beneath that and you see how pointless it all is.

Despite having follower notifications turned on, Twitter didn’t deem any of this new wave of followers worthy enough to let me know about them – signifying an embarrassing lack of quality. Sure enough, the Analytics dashboard told the real story behind the phony numbers.

Profile visits and impressions were down significantly and any change in follower demographics was negligible, suggesting that these new followers haven’t tweeted enough for the analytics to take a stab at their interests.

So what had I actually achieved? In a word, nothing.

While the increase in numbers appeals to my unbecoming vanity, there was no sense of achievement when Twitter notified me that I’d first passed 2,500 followers, then 3,000. It felt like I’d restarted Football Manager because I’d lost a cup final.

The idea of doing it as a PR and marketing move is quite frankly ridiculous. Truth be told, the only shortcut to getting an interactive, engaged follower base on Twitter is to know that there are no shortcuts. Nothing quite beats getting to really know your followers, which can be hard to do if they’ve been manufactured in a digital sweatshop.

As Twitter themselves says: The best way to gain friends and fans on Twitter is to engage with people, follow others whose Tweets are interesting or meaningful to you, and be an active part of the Twitter community by reading and posting high-quality information.

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