Why Buying Social Media Lists is a Science, Not an Art
By Ann Marie Gagliardi
As a marketing professional, I’m constantly looking for ways to promote my company’s products, services, and expertise. I admit to buying lists that often include physical addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and job titles, because it can be very difficult to acquire suitable, organic contacts. But there’s a difference between buying a massive list of names or followers versus buying targeted ones. It’s all about marketing, branding and online and social presence. Whether you condone it or not, this is a form of promotion. However, I’m not advocating the purchasing of fake followers on social media sites. That is unethical.
What I will defend is the idea and practice of finding those individuals that may be interested in your products, services, or thought leadership and insight. I’m referring to a target market – a group of individuals with similar needs or desires that may benefit from what you’re selling or touting. This group may be located in the same geographic location, might fall into a certain age range, have a higher degree of education, and be of the same gender. Modern approaches target an individual with a personalized message and offer, at the ideal time. Buying targeted lists can drive business growth. Here’s why:
Who benefits from buying followers?
It’s more than just the company or individual making the purchase that benefit from this. Think about those individuals that are part of the list. Again, I’m not suggesting a massive buy, but if you purchase targeted followers, there are benefits to those entities. A reputable company or individual only wants to contact those that could ultimately be interested in what it’s selling or promoting. You reap the benefits when you provide informed messaging to a target audience. Because your message is specific to a group, you’re more apt to attract those individuals that want to learn more about your product or service, and that’s where the relationship starts. As long as you provide relevant tweets on Twitter or posts on Facebook, for instance, these new followers may become loyal to you and can ultimately become customers.
What can happen if you buy a follower list?
There are pros and cons. I’ll agree with Ron VanPeursem, a content management strategist. He states that if you’re trying to build your brand and you buy a truckload of names and someone reviews your followers, he/she may come to one of three conclusions (based upon the quality of followers) about you or your company:
- You’re falsely inflating your image online.
- You cannot be trusted.
- You’re probably going to scam me if I engage with your advertised product or service.
However I’d argue that buying followers isn’t necessarily devious if done correctly. There are sophisticated means in locating the ideal followers and the outcome can be much more rewarding than what VanPeursem mentions.
For instance, targeting the right individuals, with the right message, at the right time can lead to interest (or a sale) in what you’re promoting. For example, take the toy Tickle Me Elmo, which is geared toward preschool-aged children. Yes, this group benefits most from the toy, but Tyco doesn’t necessarily market to them. Its target is the parents and grandparents of these children – the individuals making the purchase. Of course! So Tyco’s message is directed mainly toward the buyer rather than the user. By tailoring its message to this audience, it’s more likely to sell more toys. Providing relevant content to individuals who will actually be interested can foster or even boost a relationship.
In addition, increasing your credibility and influence in your field of expertise leads to even more followers.
When is the right time to buy a list?
I’m sure others would agree you don’t want to purchase followers when you have nothing to offer. That would just be a bad business decision. Let’s say you’re launching a redesign of your website. In certain circumstances you wouldn’t promote it to a new group of followers the month before. However, if promoting it ahead of time is part of your plan, then you need to make sure it’s been thoroughly tested to remove all of the kinks (think healthcare.gov). There would be no reason to purchase a list until you know there’s something in it for the user. If you know you’re launching a new product in May, you should buy your followers as close to launch as possible so you’ll have the freshest list and an optimal audience.
Where do you go to purchase a list?
This is a tricky one. I’ve had my marketing operations managers scour for reputable firms to work with. It’s a daunting task. There are many companies that promise you the world, but don’t deliver. In my experience, there are only a handful of companies that can deliver quality contacts (or, in this case, followers).
Megan Marrs suggests several companies that may be good outlets to work with in her blog, “Buying Twitter Followers: The (Cheap) Price of Friendship.” I visited each of the websites and most “seem” reputable, but you still need to do your homework. You need to read between the lines before you buy. Researching companies prior to purchasing a list will save you headaches, time and money.
Things to check are experience, quality, trustworthiness and cost. Typically the more experience a firm has, the more likely higher quality services can be expected. Make sure the data is clean, current, and the information is real. Be certain the company can deliver on your target requirements.
Also, many firms will promise you the moon and the stars before you sign a contract, but once you sign it, the reliability may go out the window. Be sure you receive everything that’s stated in your contract. And make sure the costs are well within your budget. Remember: quality followers come at a price.
Why and how can this tarnish your reputation?
You need to be aware “who” you’re buying. Many times companies will sell you fake names or BOT accounts (these are names that are computer generated and meant to look like live accounts). While it may seem like an inexpensive way to gain followers, it’s a deal you should turn away. Numbers lie.
For instance, look at how many people are genuinely responding to someone’s tweets. If there are 500,000 followers and no replies to tweets, then you can assume there are boatloads of fakes.
Check to see if a Twitter account is legitimate: Klout and Kred are two websites that help you determine just how influential a Twitter account is. Based on a scoring system from 1 to 100, these sites show a business or person’s true influence based on a number of factors, including pulling out bogus followers. So, if someone has thousands of followers and a score below 30, he’s probably padding his account.
Take a look at an account on TwitterCounter.com. You can view a three-month view of its follower count. If it goes up pretty steadily, chances are its authentic. But if you find that erratic behavior like the number of new followers increases by a thousand one day and then only one or two the day before and after, you’ve likely found something funky going on.
By purchasing a massive list of followers, you’re subjecting your loyal followers to those who may have no common interests and would never be a connection had you not intervened. However, if you define your audience before you buy a list, you’ll be focusing on meaningful individuals giving you more of a chance to connect and share interests with them.
Yes, I’m all for buying lists or followers as long as there’s a scientific approach, but it’s not about massively boosting your Twitter or Facebook accounts with new connections. Sure, it’s nice to have a large number of followers or “likes,” but if you’re not targeting the correct individuals or companies it’s not doing you any good. Long gone are the days when we marketed to the masses. One offer, one price, one product. Facebook does this to an extent and we’ll see more of this type of promotion on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites.
We’ve only scratched the surface.
Aggarwal, Neha. Buy Twitter Followers and Reap the Benefits. https://exploreb2b.com/articles/buy-twitter-followers-and-reap-the-benefits. August 13, 2013.
Purchasefollowersontwitt. Considerations When You Buy Twitter followers For Your Business. http://www.imdb.com/list/smqn4-QTkYY/. November 2012.
Social Media Designs. Social Media Marketing vs. Traditional Email Marketing. http://www.smdnow.com/social-media-marketing-vs-traditional-email-marketing. May 28, 2013.
Tess. Buying Twitter Followers – A Mistake, or Not? http://www.contentwritenow.com/2013/01/14/buying-twitter-followers-%E2%80%93-a-mistake-or-not/. January 14, 2013.
VanPeursem, Ron. Buy Twitter Followers? Are you kidding?!http://www.shiftdigitalmedia.com/buy-twitter-followers-are-you-kidding/. October 21, 2013.
Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Ann Marie Gagliardi is a seasoned marketing professional in the technology industry. She is accountable for developing integrated marketing campaign strategies and go-to-market plans for improving marketplace awareness, perception, and demand generation that contributes measurable ROI to the business. Ms. Gagliardi holds a B.S. and an M.B.A. from Quinnipiac University and is pursuing an M.S. in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac as well.Google+