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Does Buying Followers on Facebook Actually Work?

There’s been an ongoing debate in the social media marketing world about how much a Facebook fan — that is, someone who “likes” and follows your brand’s Facebook Inc. page — is worth. Further, the discussion has led to questions about whether it is worth it for companies to artificially “jump start” their social media presence by actually buying Facebook likes for their pages.

Buy-Facebook-Fans

A new post from CoinCrack – a website (and one among dozens upon dozens, I might add) that allows you to buy Facebook likes, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers Instagram and Vine likes and followers, etc. — contends that there is in fact a tangible benefit to the controversial practice of attempting buy your way into social media stardom.

CoinCrack cites the “bandwagon effect,” a form of groupthink, as its reasoning. Of the bandwagon effect, CoinCrack says that, “The probability of any individual adopting it [your brand] increasing with the proportion who have already done so.”

In other words, CoinCrack believes that “fake ’til you make it” is relevant advice not just for learning a new hobby or starting a new career path, but can also help businesses gain the social media presence and interaction with consumers that they’re hoping for. “Making it appear as though your service is more popular than it really is can actually be a self-fulfilling prophecy,” CoinCrack says.

A study released last year in April suggests that CoinCrack might be on to something. The study, which was undertaken by Syncapse, a social media marketing firm in partnership with the research firm Hotspex, concluded that the average Facebook fan is worth $174, a figure that increased 28 percent from a similar study conducted in 2010. Syncapse and Hotspex settled on the figure after collecting data from more than 2,000 U.S. panelists in late January through early February of 2013.

The study suggests that Facebook fans are actively connecting the brands they follow with their friends as well. Syncapse found that three-quarters of fans are likely to share good brand experiences, as well as promotions and discounts with their friends, and two-thirds are likely to share their bad brand experiences.

“Not only do fans tend to be brand users first, they spend more, engage more, advocate more, and are more loyal. The significant and increasing value of a Facebook brand Fan affirms past social marketing investment and mandates deeper commitment and accountability in the future,” Mashable says, regarding the report.

But while Syncapse and CoinCrack’s trumpeting might seem like a dream come true to some companies desperately seeking social media recognition and looking for a quick fix, others say that buying followers and likes isn’t as effective as the businesses selling them say. In a blog post released in the fall of 2013, Victor Pan dismissed the $174 figure outright, saying that the Syncapse’s research is inherently misleading.

Pan notes that far from improving your social media presence and consumers’ engagement with your brand, buying followers can actually hurt your business more than it can help it. ”Facebook’s marketing success isn’t measured in just Likes but the increased difference in behavior exhibited by people who are naturally your brand’s Facebook fans,” Pan says.

For one, Pan says, buying fake Facebook fans waters down the data that you have available on your real Facebook fans. You know, the ones that actually like your brand and clicked that little thumbs-up button out of their own volition. There’s no way to distinguish between Facebook likes that were bought and Facebook likes that were acquired naturally when you look at the analytics. So in some ways, Pan says, you’re actually making social media marketing more difficult than it needs to be.

Aside from making marketing more difficult, Pan reminds us that buying Facebook fans is against the site’s terms of service, meaning that if Facebook picks up on it, your page could be taken down. If any particularly social media or marketing savvy fans check up on your brands “like” history, they’re quickly going to lose your trust. You just can’t put a price on great social media marketing. It’s like your granddad (never) said: You just can’t put a price on great social media marketing.

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