It started as a “Did you know?” And of course, I didn’t.
“You can buy Twitter followers,” a colleague continued.
And what started as an innocent conversation about social media became a little murkier.
I expressed amazement, well perhaps not exactly amazement, but certainly a degree of surprise.
Which isn’t surprising, as one way or another the internet is a continual source of surprise.
And I forgot about the conversation until a couple of days later when my colleague sent this link:
I got to Twitter late and after a year of tweeting I had 52 followers.
So it naturally crossed my mind that finding a following organically was taking quite a long time.
Especially if you subscribe to the theory that one digital year is equal to ten human ones.
There is a metaphysical point where ideas become action, however small the initial step may be.
A few keystrokes revealed there are actually several sites offering to fix you up with a twitter following.
At around $25 a thousand for real followers, which are people with a twitter account, as opposed to dummy accounts set up by bots.
Affordability alone made the opportunity tempting.
But it still felt shabby somehow, like buying a degree, or not changing your underwear every day.
If Klout can “trade” in my social media brand, why can’t I trade up in it?
Surely the main point of the digital era is that the old rules no longer apply.
Reputations don’t have to be hard-won.
You can go-viral any time - but probably not with just 52 followers.
All I want is more exposure for my blog, and wasn’t this simply the digital equivalent of paying newsboys to stand on the corner shouting, “Extra, extra?”
Then I read a Mashable story claiming Newt Gingrich followers are spam bots.
Hell, if it was good enough for the GOP…and at least my followers would be human.
Ethical dilemma resolved - I got into buying mode.
At which point 1,000 seemed kind of paltry, why not go for a Klout busting 5,000?
So I loosely specified the interests I wanted my followers to share (advertising, marketing, creative thinking, ideas, current affairs, etc.) and anted up around $85.
The process would take 12-20 days and I was warned not to follow or unfollow anyone while it was taking place.
By Friday at 8.16 AM I had 109 followers
At 11.50 AM there were 185.
Over the weekend they plateaued at around 340 (something to do with the algorithms – If you want a more detailed breakdown of process and options Tyler Cruze’s blog is very informative) before continuing to climb to 951 at time of publishing.
About half only fit my profile very loosely, but they certainly open up the randomness of Twitter…
My feed is full of all kinds of stuff.
Religious nuts, porn nuts, Beliebers...in several languages.
In retrospect maybe I should have started with a 1000.
But there’s always a learning curve.
Has it made a difference to hits on my blog?
It's probably too early to say.
Social media experts tend to agree, it’s not the size of your following, but your connection to them.
They bang on about not diluting your personal brand.
I get that up to a point.
There are a few of the original 52 I banter with sporadically, they’re interesting and informed, if they were in town, I’d buy them a beer or whatever.
But just how much damage can you do to a personal brand of 52 followers?
I listed them, so not too much I hope.
And if any of my newly enhanced following are reading this, I’m sorry I bought you.
But stick around and I’ll treat you good.