twitter-150x150On a regular basis I have discussions with clients about how to boost the numbers of their followers or fans on the various social networks and every time I stress that while numbers look good it’s the followers means to purchase that matters i.e. the quality over the quantity.  And once we talk it becomes apparent that traffic to their website, callers to their store, engagement around their brand and ultimately sales are actually what they’re really looking for and not vanity numbers.

Worryingly though every now and then I hear of people who are so caught up in the numbers game that they succumb to the lure of the “followers for sale” deals available for as little as a few dollars if you know where to look.

This very week I myself received an email offering me 1,000 new facebook likes in 24 hours for the bargain price of $49!!  For those less social media savvy you can understand how these guys make sales as small businesses strive to make themselves look good socially.  And, having seen the end result of a company who admitted to purchasing fans to boost the numbers I can testify that the 400 new fans they bought for a bargain price are never going to become customers as they are located several thousand miles away!

It will always be the quality of your followers/likes/database that matters more than the quantity, after all if you’re an independent restaurant for example your clients are likely to be from within a certain radius and would it therefore not be more important to have 500 people within your catchment area than 5,000 from across the globe?

Often businesses wonder why they can’t quite reach the same giddy heights as their competitors – on most occasions it’s the efforts of the other party that make the difference whether that’s in activity, engagement or even spend – a post for another day however.

Sometimes though the numbers just don’t add up and a wonderful new tool will help you establish if the huge number of twitter followers you see on a particular account are in fact real people.

StatusPeople.com have introduced Fakers.StatusPeople.com which you can connect with your twitter account in order to find out via a sample of your fans whether those following the activity of you or your brand are genuine followers or spam accounts.  It takes a sample of 500 followers and measures them against obvious criteria for spam accounts generally and gives you an overall score on the quality of your list.

This for example was the result on my account;

 

twitter.com/marketingdebbie

 

Frequently you’ll see people on the web offer to re-tweet to their thousands of followers, on occasion even at a cost!  What if those re-tweets though were going to accounts that weren’t actually operated at all?

There will always be a number of inactive users on all platforms as early enthusiasm eases off, staff shortages result in an account not being managed, etc so this figure wouldn’t so much bother me as much as the “fakes” – thankfully in my sample 0%.

And if you do a check on your account and find a few fake followers you shouldn’t be overly alarmed if there are just a few as ultimately you don’t decide who follows you and certain activities such as specific keywords or give aways and even some industries may tend to attract more of these type of accounts.  If you’ve got a small number of followers with fake accounts following you it may be as simple as blocking those accounts manually.  If however you’ve got a substantial list you may need to employ a tool such as twitblock.org to help you.

Having had suspicions on a specific account belonging to a competitor of one of my clients (who shall remain anonymous!) I did a check today and found they had a whopping 80% fakes – confirming that their thousands of  exotically named blonde followers were indeed fakes!

There is a dark side to the buying and selling of followers/likes however so don’t make a final decision on the ethics of a person based on their activity as it has been known for people to gift them to accounts of competitors!!!

Facebook have recently admitted that in excess of 83 million of it’s accounts are fake or duplicate profiles so the practice of buying and selling is not confined to twitter unfortunately.

It does however reinforce the argument that quality is what matters not quantity as no matter what you’re selling if you’re amassing an army of people who have no means or intent to purchase from you how do you plan on making money?

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