When brands decide to make the big leap into the social media space, the first question is always “How do I get people to like/follow me?” On older platforms’ brand pages, the marketer was able to  look through profiles and add users with similar interests, but that’s no longer the case. On Twitter, you can follow high level influencers and hope they follow you back, but that takes time and doesn’t always pay off. You want to make an impact NOW – so what can you do?

For many, especially social media managers with quotas to fill, buying “likes” seems like a no-brainer. For as little as $10, several companies will guarantee you thousands of followers instantly. These followers will have regular profiles with a variety of interests. Sure, they’ll be from faraway places like Bangladesh, unless you paid slightly more for more regionally appropriate followers, but who cares? You have thousands of fans now and therefore a successful social media presence. Right?

fansNot so fast.

What many novice social media managers haven’t yet learned is that likes and follows are only one side of the equation to social media success. Your audience is more savvy than you think, and before deciding to follow you, they’ll look at your post history and more importantly, how active your page is. Even casual social media users know how to spot “fakes.” With recent scandals such as politicians purchasing fake Twitter followers, your audience is more alert than ever. A high follower count with very little interaction is an immediate red flag.

Even worse than losing credibility with future fans, you risk disciplinary action from your platforms. Facebook and Twitter routinely sweep accounts and remove fake and purchased followers. These “like factories” realize this, and they profit from your continued business. If they sell you 2,000 fans and Facebook removes 500 of them, they hope you’ll come back and purchase even more. Repeated offenses can lead to your page getting deleted.

So, how can you build your fanbase AND have engagements?

DRS and Associates has been representing clients in the social space since 2007 and has been learning and evolving every day. We’ve seen the major platforms change their algorithms and policies, but one thing has always been consistent: creating a strong paid advertising campaign is the best way to build a large, active fanbase. Trying to be selective is important, but it is also okay to reach beyond what you may think is your “exact” customer base (perhaps we’ll save this discussion for a future post). Unlike buying likes, most social media platforms allow you to target an audience with an interest in your niche. By entering certain terms or targeting the fans of high level influencers, you can make sure that your ads display only to a relevant audience and that your new fans are quality followers.

Like with any ad, it’s not enough to just get your ad out there and hope people click. Your copy and creative needs to be engaging and connect with an audience, giving them an idea of what your brand’s messaging or value proposition to the fan will be. Once you have new fans on board, the challenge is creating constantly engaging content that will get them to interact beyond just clicking “like.” This is where DRS’ traditional advertising experience comes in. We construct our online ads the same way that we create traditional ads for publications – knowing it is important to create an emotional connection between the audience and the product, whether its through design, services or story. We know that ads shouldn’t be intrusive or unclear; they should speak directly to what interests a potential fan has – and maybe with a slight call to action.

If your social media manager has ever suggested buying “likes” as the solution to your social media problems, they aren’t working in the best interest of your brand. A reputable (and responsible) social media agency such as DRS and Associates will always have a multi-tiered plan – including a solid, cost effective advertising plan – to make your brand shine through social media.