Yes, you CAN pay for followers

A client insisted that he just HAD to have more followers. He’d gotten an email from a service that connects you with “thousands of followers in a week!” and wanted to know why that was such a bad idea. There was no way this was going to be good, but being the inquisitive type I couldn’t help myself. So I ran a little test.

I used a personal Twitter account that was relatively un-used and paid $150 for “A thousand followers guaranteed in just a week!”. Of course they don’t tell you until after you pay them that they will need your password so they can follow people to get them to follow back. They also don’s ask any questions at all about your interests, the kinds of people you want to connect to, etc., etc….

Within a couple of days the new followers started to stream in. The first 100 or so were sort of relevant to the profile and the types of people that were already following. Not so bad. Then the whole thing ramped up. I started seeing hundreds of new followers and at one point there was an increase of over 3,000 followers! Wow. Within 2 days however, 1500 un-followed. Some followed, un-followed and re-followed. Double Wow.

I dutifully posted informative links and welcomed my new followers (OK, only the ones who were relative to the type of business represented by the profile.) and I got not one single tweet from any of the new followers. I got a ton of DM’s but every one felt automated. Responses rarely returned a reply from the new follower. TwitterThe bot running my test account dutifully followed them back, un-followed some and didn’t un-follow others. It was a sort of macabre dance. Lots of them had profile pics like this one.

After about 2 weeks things settled down and I downloaded the results to go over who these followers were and see what the content consisted of.

  • 584 DM’s thanking me for following them and SO excited about my web site (there wasn’t one listed in the bio)
  • 16 thank yous followed by a quote from Zig Ziglar
  • 14 followers offering me male enhancement products (It was a female profile)
  • 164 follows offering me free something or others and discounts
  • 120 social media experts who could take my social media campaign to new heights and get me thousands of followers!
  • 85 thank yous followed by an offer to make me rich working from home. Apparently in slippers.

The followers were  a mix of newbies who thought getting thousands of followers would be a good idea, porn, multi-level marketers and people who prey on newbies who just want to figure all of this out.

In my very opinionated view it’s a shame that new users fall for this kind of stuff. Their Twitter or Facebook streams get clogged up with “junk” and then they say it’s all a waste of time. And it is indeed. I used a variety of Twitter applications to comb through and un-follow users who didn’t add value to the conversation, spammed or never actually posted anything.

Bottom line?
After all was said and done I kept just 24 “real” followers out of the final download of 1800. These were the ones who were actually having conversations with me or with other users beyond broadcasting discount offers and junk. Oh, and it doesn’t end there. Even after I changed the password I’m still getting “thanks for the follow” DM’s. Apparently this poor account is now on some “will follow back” lists. Fortunately I have the option of deleting the account, but imagine if you were stuck in this loop? Yucko.

  • I've always wanted to test one of those promotion systems but wasn't willing to fork over the money. Thanks for the report 🙂

  • I know, I like to think of it as a public service and best of all now nobody can argue “…but have you TRIED it?”. It took me quite a while to delete all the junk and sort out the account. I shudder to think I almost did it on my business account…

  • yeah I tried something similar with forum posts on a forum we were trying to kick start. Think we did a trail with about 20 post which were over a week. All posts were within about 10mins of each other, vaguely relevant but very poor quality and short. We didnt take the test any further, it was very niche forum and really needed engaged people talking, so again it comes down to engaging content and real people with an interest and plenty of time and hard work

  • It's really true. There are no shortcuts that get you real results with social media. Lots of people are making money off people who think that just maaaybe there might be though!

  • What a great experiment Janet! It's about time someone does a real analysis of exactly what value you can expect from those “follow me” services. It's a shame how much snake oil is out there in the social media world, and just how gullible some folks can be. Particularly when still in the glassy-eyed “newbie” state.

    I hope this message makes it out on a widespread basis so we can help a lot of people save their hard-earned money, and help them learn to use the tools before them in the way they were intended to be used – for conversations and relationship building.

  • Yes this is a great experiment. Having high interactivity within your website thru your brilliant findings is simply amazing. Thanks