Recently, I had the chance to meet my new friend Jilienne – jewelry connoisseur and jewelry marketing/PR extraordinaire – for coffee, and we chatted about social media marketing for jewelry brands.
At some point, a stranger interrupted our conversation and added his thoughts about buying likes (and taking “desperate selfies,” but that’s a topic for another post). Apparently, the stranger is a social media marketing expert, so he’s always trying to talk clients out of buying likes.
If you’re not aware of the practice, anyone with as little as $3 can buy likes for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These days, likes can be purchased in bulk from companies that generate very believable-looking accounts with real profile photos and descriptions. In some cases, likes come from real people in other countries. A simple Google search and a credit card number can get you as many likes as your heart desires.
Buying likes can be tempting, especially for brands that are just beginning their social media journey and are having trouble gaining traction. Most days, social media can feel like a popularity contest. And no one can deny the theory of “social proof,” which posits that brands with more likes generate even more likes.
If it’s so easy to buy likes, why shouldn’t you buy likes? Here are three reasons:
1. Social media shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Instead, media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram should encourage engagement and interaction. And bots won’t interact with brands or buy their products.
The stranger who interrupted the conversation I was having with Jilienne made a great point: if you’re an actor or model who needs to prove”social worth” to an agent, then maybe buying likes will work in your favor: on the surface, you’ll appear popular and well liked. However, if you’re a brand interested in using social media to generate a loyal following, then buying likes definitely won’t work for you.
2. The metric that should matter to you – your engagement rate – will suffer. Social media marketing experts don’t necessarily worry about likes; they worry about ratios.
Let’s pretend that you have a million followers, and 1,000 people like your photo. A thousand like might seem impressive, but why aren’t your other 999,000 followers also participating? Why aren’t they liking your photo? Given the likes-to-follower ratio, 1,000 likes isn’t impressive at all.
According to Socialdraft, a healthy engagement rate is about 4 to 12%. They use the following formula to determine rate of engagement:
Engagement rate = # of likes + # of comments / # of followers x 100
Personally, I would say that a 10% rate of engagement is fantastic and should be your goal for every post. If you’re buying followers, you likely won’t achieve this ratio, and if you’re buying likes, you’ll be spending lots of money to maintain a “healthy” albeit fake rate of engagement for every post.
3. Your notifications feeds will eventually start to annoy you. I’ve noticed that fake followers tend to leave spammy comments, which damage the appearance and reputation of your posts.
Reading those spammy comments and being bombarded with likes by boring, fake profiles gets old after a while. Managing a social media account with fake followers and likes can be a lonely practice. The fun of social media is connecting with new people and moving that connection from digital to analog as swiftly as possible. Here’s a fun fact: Jilienne and I met on Twitter! Real engagement is possible and exciting.
Have you ever bought followers? If so, did you have a positive or negative experience? If not, would you ever consider buying followers?
Featured photo by genibee