It’s amazing how many “instant” success services you can buy online when it comes to social media success or online marketing. After spending hours each day for several years painstakingly executing on different activities, creating content and managing online campaigns “the slow way”, it’s always fascinating to me when I come across offers online that read:
“10,000 Twitter followers delivered to your account in 24 hours” – $10
“20,000 Facebook fans to your page in 5 days” – $15
“15,000 visitors to your website instantly!”
“Get 30 high PR links to your website”
The Instant Social Media Success Experiment
So we decided to run a little test to see
1) Can people actually deliver this? &
2) How well does it work?
We actually went ahead and purchased these likes, fans, views and links for some test accounts, paid for the “orders”, sat back and waited for things to start happening. Soon enough, our first question would be answered. Can people actually deliver this? – The answer is YES!
Instant Twitter Followers
The Twitter followers started coming in the hundreds every minute. With every refresh of the the page, the followers would shoot up and within an hour or so, there were tens of thousands of Twitter followers. I’ve been on Twitter several years and this has never happened to my account. It was astounding!
We checked a few profiles and noticed they all look real. Real bios, interests, a hand full of people they are following but not a single tweet. Once we checked another 100 or so followers, it was very evident these were all all fake profiles. Designed to look real to those who check a follower or two but they are fake accounts through which no one was really tweeting. That also meant we would never get retweeted, no one would like or share anything from our account if we did tweet through it and the real value of having all those fake followers? – Not much! In fact, things did get more interesting. Over the next week the followers in that account dropped by a few thousand. Then a few thousand more followers disappeared and finally in a few weeks, they were all gone. This was Twitter removing “fake accounts” and “inactive accounts”. It was just $5 but it’s clear you get what you pay for with instant Twitter followers at least.
Instant Facebook Fans
Facebook fans are not the easiest to earn so when we heard you can buy tens of thousands of them for a few bucks, we were thrilled to try it and see if this was true. Even with Facebook ads, a like comes at a price which isn’t a steal and here someone claims you can get thousands for a virtually nothing. was it possible? Yes! The likes kept coming in as we watched the test page’s like count start ticking and before we knew it, we had a page with about 10,000 Facebook likes.
We checked some of the profiles. At first glance they seemed like real people, with real profile pictures, complete bios, an active wall and even had pictures of their family and pets on their timeline. However, the more you see, the more you start noticing similarities between people that just can not be co-incidence! It was starting to look like we had a page full of …fake profiles or people that didn’t care about being a fan on the page. We then started posting updates and it was no surprise any more….there were no reactions. No likes, no comments, no shares…nothing. It was pointless.
Instant Website Traffic
This could have been a real jewel if it would actually work since getting organic traffic to any website is one of the biggest challenges around. 15,000 visitors for a few dollars would be incredible. True to their word, they did deliver 15,000 visitors to the website and a 1000 more just for good measure. It was quite exciting to look at our Google Analytics statistics with a huge spike on the page.
Looking further at the analytics it got a bit hazy because the average time spent on the site by each visitor was very tiny and exactly the same. Co-incidence? I don’t think so. Also the visitors didn’t show up as search traffic, they were not referral visitors coming to our page from some other site…they showed as direct visitors. 15,000 of them all in one day. These didn’t behave like real people, because they were not real people. The result of this was the bounce rate went up, time spent on site dropped drastically. It was a disaster!
Conclusion & Learnings
The links had a similar story and were simply comments placed on some random sites that have no relation to the site being linked to and would have no value in improving search. In fact, they could even harm the page rank and damage one’s chances of doing well in searches. We learned that “technically” most of these service providers to deliver what they say they will deliver. They can actually get you instant likes, fans, hits, links, YouTube views, app downloads and anything else you can possibly want that can be translated into social media success. However we also learned they don’t work. These shortcuts and instantly delivered results to your social media channels offer no real value, no real engagement and really… no real success in achieving any objectives except a spike in numbers. It was alright for an experiment just to see how this is done but was a complete waste of time and money even if was a small amount of both. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is and this is exactly what we took away from this little test. We learned content, conversation, regular publishing and real engagement with a focus on execution is still the best route to social media success. Even if it is the slower route!