case study

Case Study: The facts about buying Twitter "followers"

About six to eight months ago, I got this idea in my head to actually buy some Twitter followers. Not because of any desire to increase my numbers, but I was genuinely curious about the process. I wanted to be able to back up my gut feelings about this practice with cold, hard facts. I’ve been hemming and hawing about it for this long because I don’t think it’s a good way to grow a following. At all. 

In a moment of late night impulsiveness, I finally bought followers. (Just saying that makes me feel like I’m confessing to some horrible transgression.) Did this change my views on the value?

Why would someone want to buy followers?

As is pointed out in this article, there is a certain perception in having a large following on Twitter. Follower count is used to determine your score on Klout, Tweet Grader, Tweet Level, and Kred uses follower count to a certain degree, but it doesn’t seem to have the same affect on scores. PeerIndex doesn’t use follower count as a variable, but maybe that’s because the CEO has allegedly bought followers.

Even if you don’t care about any of these automated influence measurement tools, when you know that people who follow you are checking out your account, a low follower count can make you feel pretty inferior. So, do you stay the course and grow organically or do you gamble on the cheap, easy tactic of buying followers to create a different perception.

The Pitfalls

I opted for a service that I could buy targeted followers from. I wanted some degree of authenticity (if possible) rather than an influx of fake followers. I wanted to buy 1,000 - a substantial number, but nothing crazy like the 27,000 the guy bought in the link above. Part of the reason is I wanted to see if anyone noticed and said anything, so the number needed to be truly noticeable. So far, nothing unless people are chatting about it behind my back. ;)

When all was said and done, well over 2,000 followers were added to my account and they were as fake as the day is long and in no way targeted by subject matter or geographic location. But yay! I have a 1-year guarantee that they won’t unfollow. (Do you feel me rolling my eyes?)

Status People made this nifty little Faker tool that tells you what your mix of followers looks like. I checked before I bought the followers. I had 93% good, 5% inactive and 2% fake. In the last year, I have been blocking obviously fake accounts, so the 2% must have followed prior to that time.

Now that I’ve got this influx of new “followers”, here’s my score:

I think it’s safe to say that my assumptions about this process were correct, despite those who still see it as a legitimate marketing practice

Other ramifications to consider

1) Impact on influence

Let’s return to the topic of influence measurement tools from above. Do you care about those numbers? Buying fake followers can actually have a negative impact on the ones that look at follower count. Because many of those accounts mass following you on Twitter are fake, you’ll undoubtedly lose followers as the fake accounts are deleted or blocked. Mass unfollowing will hurt your influene scores in the short term. 

Assuming you don’t care about influence tools, if you care about your audience, you don’t want to get caught trying to fool them. Although buying followers as a prank did amuse me, but for all the reasons I’ve stated I wouldn’t do that to someone else.

2) Financial vulnerability

There is something inherently unethical about buying Twitter followers. It’s cheating the system. Even if you buy from a service that truly targets the following to genuine accounts, it still gives an false impression to those who later choose to follow you. Even worse, if you happen to choose a disreputable service (and let’s face it, these services aren’t known for ethical practices), you could be handing your credit card information over to someone and regret that decision later.

3) Biggest red flag of all - it’s not allowed

Most articles I’ve read about this topic would lead you to believe that there’s nothing in Twitter’s terms of service that would prevent you from legitimately buying followers. Unfortunately, they’re incorrect. The terms of service state:

Spam: You may not use the Twitter service for the purpose of spamming anyone. What constitutes “spamming” will evolve as we respond to new tricks and tactics by spammers. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be spamming are:

  • If you have followed a large amount of users in a short amount of time;
  • If you have attempted to “sell” followers, particularly through tactics considered aggressive following or follower churn;
  • Creating or purchasing accounts in order to gain followers;
  • Using or promoting third-party sites that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast,” or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account);

Like others who’ve performed this experiment, I don’t have any intention of hanging on to my new “followers”. Thank goodness there are many tools I can use to force them to unfollow!

What do you think of people/businesses buying followers on Twitter? Should it be allowed?

Anna Belanger conquers Facebook

One of the things we are always looking to do is to empower people so that they can create their own authentic online presence using social media.  

A friend and client, Anna Belanger of Anna Belanger and Associates, wasn’t using her Facebook page to its potential. After some regular proding from me to post more often (every day!) we finally agreed to have me create a list of Facebook status updates and she committed to posting daily for a month.

What happened next is exactly what I want to see happen with all of my clients.  Anna got into the groove. She realized that coming up with regular content wasn’t as hard as she thought and that content didn’t need to be all “important announcements”, but more engaging and varying things that would entertain and give value to her audience.

The growth on her page in the three months since she started posting regularly and engaging with her audience on a personal level has been incredible (a 50% increase!).

I asked Anna a few questions to share her perspective on how things happened:

Going back to the Fall, what were your Facebook habits?

I would post a status here and there. Usually I would only post if I had something to announce.

Did you find the idea of coming up with daily posts overwhelming?

At first I couldn’t imagine with a post everyday. I thought that I would be overwhelming my audience. However, now I look forward to the challenge and it’s interesting to see which posts get the most response.

What changed so that you no longer found it difficult?

Originally what changed was the list of posts you sent me. I didn’t think to look up stuff on pinterest or from other sites. I also found it less difficult when I saw my audience responding positively to the daily posts.

What changes have you seen since you started posting daily?

My following has grown immensely! We also started including our clinic openings and have found that last minute booking has increased.

Have you seen any direct impact on your business?

Absolutely, posting our openings and course availabilities has increased our booking. I also find that others on my page share our openings and courses and have increased visibilitiy to the clinic!

All it took was creating a list of 30 Facebook updates and scheduling them for a month to get into a habit and realize that creating content wasn’t nearly as difficult as she had feared.  

Take some time today and write down 30 status updates for your page.  They can be images, links, tips, quotes, things you like to do with your family or a million other things.  The key is to provide value or entertain your audience.  You know that audience best - what do you think they’d like to read about? 

Share some of the things of status updates you find work best on your page in the comments.  

Will you go write a list now?

Brands had a big win on Twitter when the lights went out at the Superbowl

I don’t watch football. The only reason I paid any attention to the fact that it was Superbowl Sunday was because I love the commercials so I was online watching for those. After the halftime show with Beyonce, the power went out in the Superdome. The power was out for about 30 minutes and during that time Twitter was bursting with hilarious one liners. Twitter was the perfect distraction for many from the stalling commentators on TV.

These 3 words got 2000 RTs during the Superbowl blackout

There is huge opportunity in responding in real time and during those 30 minutes brands got in on the action with some memorable and fun tweets.


Downton Abbey vs Superbowl?House of Cards (a show on Netflix) had a Twitter contest!


Walgreens has candles AND lights!

Need a generator - Lowe’s can help!Just fun (these are my favourite of the night)

Retweeted over 12,000 times in one hourMy hat goes off to some great social media folks tonight - I didn’t even want to track down any more of the real ads after the fun I had on Twitter!


Case study: Blendtec

There are many out there who are using social media to build their businesses or AS their businesses.  We will be finding interesting content and featuring their stories here regularly.

Video is one of those things that most of us know we should do (because so many people love to watch video and because video is really rich content - always good for SEO!) but that few of us actually ever do.

What holds us back?

- Fear of not producing a good enough video

- Not having the right equipment

- Not having the time to invest in video

- Feeling our product/service isn’t really “video friendly”

- Uncertainty about how to create good content

I can’t help you with the first three other than to say, you can do it, practice makes perfect, you don’t need fancy equipment and find the time, but I do want to talk about the last two points. It’s just about finding the right angle.

Make it entertaining

As a general rule, the most popular videos on YouTube are popular because they are fun or funny. People want to be entertained.

Blendtec is a fabulous example of a product you wouln’t necessarily think of as “fun” but they have done an incredible job at promoting their product and their brand on Youtube.

Blendtec sells heavy duty blenders and kitchen products (like food mills) and in 2007 they started a viral marketing campaign called “Will It Blend?”

Blendtec’s primary target audience is businesses with commercial kitchens - restaurants, schools, etc. Yet they’re reaching the masses with these videos. That means your mother’s sister’s partner who runs a restaurant can hear about this product from someone who doesn’t even run a food service business.

The owner, Tom Dickson, started producing videos demonstrating what their blenders could blend.  He has blended everything from matches, to rake handles, to cellphones and iPads.

Over the years their YouTube channel has had close to 200 million views, they’ve created an entire line of “Will It Blend?” products, and they have said that the videos have clearly accounted for an increase in their sales.

Blenders aren’t really a product you think of as “fun”. Tom Dickson managed to do something different and creative that has taken his brand further than it ever would have gone otherwise.  I certainly don’t know of any other industrial strength kitchen product brands, but if a friend of mine ever opens a restaurant I’ll definitely be asking, “Oooh - are you getting a Blendtec??”

Have you thought about how you could jump outside the expected with your business and create a fun video for your business?

Case study: Devin Super Tramp

There are many out there who are using social media to build their businesses or AS their businesses.  We will be finding interesting content, interviewing people and featuring their stories here regularly.

- Lara

This past weekend my family and I were doing one of the things we often do together - watching YouTube videos. My husband seems to find the best of the newest viral videos and the kids were screaming for the giant swing video.

As soon as I watched it I understood why the kids loved it so much - I did too! Then we started watching more of their videos and all I could think was “THIS is a blog post!”

Devin Graham has turned making cool YouTube videos into a career. He found a winning formula in extreme sports/crazy fun + excellent music and now posts weekly videos that get millions of hits to his YouTube channel. And, it should be noted that YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Web - second only to Google, that is.

By creating this kind of content, he earns (I imagine) considerable amounts from YouTube and has also managed to get sponsorship for some of his videos from companies like Vooray and Blank Snowboards (though how much in product and how much in actual sponsorship dollars I have no idea).

What can we learn from someone like Devin? Although I don’t expect any of us to join the ranks of those who can make a living off making fun videos that millions like to watch, we can learn what it is that people enjoy. For Devin and his audience - an audience the sponsors clearly want to reach - the message is:

1) Fun

2) Energetic

3) Daring

4) Young

Though these words may not work for you - what words WOULD work for your audience?

If you have a company that deals in children’s clothing or toys - can you create a fun video of kids giggling, laughing, playing, looking cute and with fun music?

If you are an interior decorator can you show someone how to make their curtains hang just right in 2 minutes?

If you are a professional organizer can you share the secret to folding fitted sheets step by step?

Think about your audience, what they want, and how video can bring that information to them. Then test the water and try to make some of your own! Until then, check out some more of Devin Graham’s videos - they really are fun for the whole family!

Video is a powerful medium - have you thought about how YOU can use it for your business?