When should you pay for a social media community?

Insights | 09 Apr, 2015

Social Media Manager, Hannah Rainford, looks at the growing trend of paying for a social media community. Upon examining the reasons for doing it Hannah uncovers the challenges it poses when it comes to setting your KPIs and the potential clean-up that could ensue.

Hannah talks paying for social followers and likes and questions brand goals vs the value you are getting in return.

People are always asking us whether they should pay for their social community and there are two ways of doing this. One, there's paying for ads or paying for sponsored content, paying for social media advertising. And then the other one is to pay for a social community, to pay for a social following whether that's buying Instagram followers, Twitter followers, Facebook likes. That's not something that we would recommend at Jellyfish because these accounts are fake. They will never engage with you. They will never talk with you. They'll never like, share and comment on what you're doing.

Five years ago when Ashton Kutcher was trying to get to a million Twitter followers and he was the first one to do that, that's all anyone ever wanted to do. They wanted those big likes and big numbers. Actually now we're more focused on engagement metrics so we want to make sure that we're getting the likes the comments and the shares. It's not about how many Facebook likes you've got, how many Twitter followers you've got. It's more about the engagement rates and actually when I look at accounts, Facebook accounts or Twitter accounts, for my clients or for their competitors I would much rather see a Facebook account that's got 1,000 likes but it's but it's got like a 10% engagement rate rather than an account that's got 100,000 likes but nobody's engaging because that's a real red flag. If they haven't really understood social, there's no one engaging with the accounts.

The pitfalls of buying social media community are that it's going to be really difficult for you to meet your objectives, your dish [SP] to marketing objectives, your business objectives, your social media objectives because, one, these accounts are never going to engage with you. Say for example you've done the StatusPeople fake checker, which is a tool you can look online to see how many Twitter followers are fake, potentially. So if you say, have 10,000 Twitter followers and 10% of those are fake, 9,000 of those are going to be real, the other thousand are going to actually be fake. So when you're looking at engagement rates the average engagement rate on Twitter is three, four, five percent roughly. If you're going to be looking at engagement metrics you need to actually set yourself lower KPIs because it's going to be a lot harder for you to reach that three, four, five percent raters on your fake Twitter followers than it is if you had genuine accounts. So when you're measuring your KPIs, you need to be lowering it and actually looking at your good Twitter followers, the good Facebook likes you've got and actually measuring it from that rather than anything else.

Equally, when it comes to looking at other metrics as well you want to increase your engagement rates on, say, Twitter of Facebook. If you increase your engagement rate, you'll also be looking to meet other objectives. It could be driving traffic to your website, for example, getting blog comments. So if you've got less good Twitter followers, less good Facebook likes not only will you not get any good engagement, your actuals are going to get less people driving traffic to your website or commenting on your blog.

So if you're used this StatusPeople fake checker on Twitter and I don't know that there is something with Facebook as well where you can actually go back and look over your likes. The only way to actually get rid of them is to go through each individual account and block it. That's the only way.

So if you bought 10,000 Twitter followers that's going to be a lot of time and effort to actually go through and manually get rid of them all. So it's up to you whether you consider it worth the time and effort to do that but do bear in mind that Google, for example, have penalised websites that have a dirty backlink profile in the past. How do we know that Facebook and Twitter aren't going to do something similar on that? Actually, your social visibility could be affected because you bought Twitter followers or Facebook likes in the past and that's something really key to think about.

And if you're worried about your engagement rates at the moment because you've got this fake Twitter following and you're seeing engagement rates of one or two percent you really need to think about your engagement strategy. How can you get the good followers that you've got, the active Twitter followers, the active Facebook users really engage with your content and that's part of making it relevant to them. So it's really important to think about what can they do? What do they want? What kind of content do they need? And actually sharing that and allowing them to share it with their followers.

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