Buying Tweets: Is It Worth It?

Over the years social media has become an important avenue to increase awareness and traffic to your site or brand. Twitter is one of the most popular. If, like most people, you don't have a lot of Twitter followers you hope that one day someone who does will tweet or re-tweet a link to your site.

If you don't want to wait to get noticed you can pay someone to tweet a link for you. On there are many people willing to do this for as little as $5. But is it worth it?

I ran a little informal experiment, buying three tweets from three different types of tweeters to see what it's like. I also have experience with what it's like to get popular tweeters to tweet a link for comparison. Here's what I found.

How People Get A Lot Of Twitter Followers

First, before we get to the results, let's look at how some people wind up with a lot of followers.

Major Celebrities

Actors, actresses, athletes, politicians, TV/radio/Internet personalities, established brands, popular bloggers and website owners, etc. have a large established fan base that follow them on Twitter to see what they're up to.

Minor Celebrities

Lesser known celebrities that may be popular in a local region or small interest group. They can also be well-known in a larger market but not the most popular.

The Fake Follower Collector

These people like to collect fake followers to boost their follower count. Many services on Fiver and elsewhere will offer to provide you with followers for a fee. These can be completely fake bot accounts or random people in different parts of the world that will follow people for a small fee. A service like Fake Follower Check can estimate how many followers are fake, inactive or real.

The Follow Me Back Follower Collector

These tweeters love to collect followers. They spend a decent amount of time building up and maintaining both the people they follow and those following them. They're easy to identify because their follower and following counts are high and similar.

They go around looking for people to follow on twitter, sometimes in their areas of interest or just random people. On a regular basis they check to see if the people they follow have started to follow them back. If not, or if the user becomes inactive, they stop following them. There are even software programs and services that can manage this whole thing.

Tweet Impact

Typically the whole point of having someone with a high follower count is to help get you some exposure to your website or your own Twitter account. The primary metric I looked at was clicks on a link.

Tweet From A Celebrity

This isn't a tweet I bought but I'm adding it here for comparison.

My first experience with the power of Twitter came from a small personal blog I was starting on one of my interests. It was slow going. After about a month of occasional posting I was only getting about a dozen page views a day. Most of that traffic was coming from participating on Twitter. 

Then one day my email inbox kept alerting me, but I was too busy participating in the activity my blog was about to check. I had a second to look and I saw that I was getting dozens of new followers on Twitter and some new comments on my blog post. I opened up TweetDeck to try to figure out why.

It turns out one of the most popular celebrities in this area (with over 100,000 followers), who has also appeared on national television programs and other media, had re-tweeted one of my tweets that had a link back to my blog.

Here's an hourly view of my visitor count to that blog showing the impact of a retweet from that celebrity.

Within the first couple of hours there was a lot of traffic. It then tapered off but I was still getting more traffic than before. The majority of the traffic came directly from clicks on the celebrities tweet but some of the clicks also came from other websites that published the tweets of popular individuals in that field.

A secondary spike came when another lesser known celebrity in that field also re-tweeted my tweet.

The best part was the traffic was sticky! I had the biggest celebrity in this field tweet a link to my blog relevant to this field to others that were interested in this field. Many people started following me on Twitter, subscribed to my blog and became regular readers. My search traffic also improved. Here's a look at the daily traffic for the month that tweet occurred.

As you can see, all the visitors didn't come back daily, but I went from a dozen visitors a day to a few dozen.

Over time I was able to carve out my own little fan base in that interest group. More retweets and conversations from other popular figures, links from other blogs, participation in podcasts, etc. That one little retweet had a big impact.

Whenever I would tweet links to my own site I would always get clicks because I had real people who were genuinely interested in what I had to say following me.

Tweet From A Minor Celebrity

I thought I had found a small celebrity on Fiverr that was popular in a local market. They didn't have an enormous amount of followers like some of the other people advertising to tweet on Fiverr so I had assumed these would be legitimate people.

I sent them the tweet and link to send that should have performed well. I didn't get a single click from their tweet other than the one where I clicked the link to make sure it was working. Not a single new follower either.

This took me by surprise so I did a check of their fake followers and it turned out to be very high. When I assume I make an ass out of a Abraham Lincoln and me!

Other times when I've had lesser known but still popular people tweet a link to my site (without payment or prompting) the results have been similar to having a major celebrity do so, just on a smaller scale. In fact you can see an example at the end of the previous chart I posted.

Tweet From A Fake Follower Collector

Next up I tried buying a Tweet from someone who had hundreds of thousands of twitter followers, yet was only following a few hundred. They had more followers than the major celebrity I previously mentioned.

After checking their faker count I found out they only had an estimated 10% of real followers. Still 10% of hundreds of thousands is a lot so I gave it a shot. The article linked in the tweet would be of interest to the real people who followed this Twitter user, even if it was a small percentage of their follower count so I had some hope.

The tweet had a couple of retweets and a couple of likes. In total I got 4 legitimate clicks from that tweet in addition to my own.

Tweet From A Follow Me Back Follower Collector

There are a lot of people like this on twitter. I'm not sure why they do it. Maybe to boast about their large twitter count to enable them to sell tweets, sell advertising or maybe just out of vanity?

The one individual had 10's of thousands of followers and was following almost an equal amount of people. They tweeted regularly about topics that were related to the article that the tweet linked to. What's more, while they had a small number of inactive users, they had 0 estimated fake followers.

I had very high hopes for this tweet. While this user may Tweeter may have boosted their own follower count by looking for other users that would follow them back these were real live, mostly active people who this tweet was going to.

The result... Not a single click other than my own and not a single new follower.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. I've seen a lot of people like this and the results have been similar when they've mentioned or retweeted me. While they do follow a lot of real people, it seems like they tend to follow a lot of other follow-me-I-follow-back types that are more interested in their own tweets and managing their followers than they are to read their timeline. 

Seriously... If you follow 10's of thousands of people on Twitter your timeline must look like a slot machine reel.


Save your money. There are a lot better ways to spend five bucks!

Except for real celebrities you won't get much response (even from some with real followers) and celebrities want a decent amount of money per tweet. If they're even the type of person that's willing to compromise their own brand for a few bucks. The value of paid tweets from celebrities might be diminishing with new FCC guidelines on identifying paid endorsements as such.

Focus on building your audience organically. It takes time but you'll get better results. You'll learn more from participating in actual conversations and you'll meet real people who have the same interests that can lead to meaningful collaborations.

Be interesting, be unique and keep tweeting. If you're lucky and tweet the right thing at the right time you might get some recognition from someone with more clout that can help boost your popularity. Until that happens you'll start to pick up other people who are interested in what you have to say along the way.

Basically, treat Twitter like you would normal conversations and relationships. Maybe you can fake it till you make it, but faking it isn't making it.

Please share a comment with some of your personal experiences with getting and buying tweets below. I'd love to hear them.
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Onome Joseph said...

Buying twitter followers probably use to make sense in the past. Right now, it's a very bad decision to take... People want more than just some large followings.

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