The Clicking Dead: Zombie Traffic in Social Media
Empty Case Syndrome
Seasoned street musicians often put their own money in their hats or instrument cases before performing, but there’s more to that ritual than pure superstition. As following someone else’s example always takes less courage than pioneering, passers-by are more likely to donate some money if they see that someone else has done it before them. Money attracts even more money, after all.
Curiously, it works the same way in Social Media, except instead of money we have a much more solid currency of followers and subscribers here. There’s little point in proving this, because, honestly – we’re all a lot more hesitant to join a facebook community with 5 followers than follow a someone who has over 10k subscribers on Twitter, right?
That’s why a (really huge) lot of online marketers has adopted the street musicians’ trick overtime and began buying fake followers and subscribers for their social media. Just for the entourage, they said. But they just couldn’t stop at that point.
To cut the story short, this mysterious ‘followers envy’ has eventually generated enough demand to spawn hordes of social media zombies that, overall, outnumber the population of some European countries, and even created a niche in the market for companies that sell this online necromancy as a service to anyone willing to trade money for an army of fake followers and subscribers.
Why the hell would they do that, you’re asking? Because the social media market is obsessed with sheer numbers. Sadly, there are many specialists and clients out there who don’t seem to tell the numbers that matter from those that actually don’t.
For most clients and employers, the number of your social media audience is only a good thing if it converts to the number on your company’s bank account well enough. And the hazards of driving zombie traffic to your social media profiles can only change that only number that matters for the worse.
Curious to know why?
They’re Not Much Use to You Dead
OK, so numbers are great. Alas, numbers are the only thing a zombie horde of followers or subscribers can provide. But that’s about it.
Like we said, you or, better yet, your boss will expect those numbers to return some kind of profit or feedback normally expected from live people. But you will get none, for zombies don’t care about your company’s special offers and events, neither can they read or interact with your content.
They’ll Go for the Brain
Hence, massing an army of fake followers, you risk messing up your social media analytics to an extent you can no longer tell what’s going on with your SMM campaign.
Just think of how complicated it will be to properly assess the engagement, activity and dynamics of your social media audience if it’s mostly comprised of fake users that aren’t even alive. They will render all your metrics senseless. And then, not only will you have a hard time drawing connections between your social media activity and the feedback from your audience, but what’s much, much worse – so will your employer or client.
That said, buying fake traffic for your social media profiles can undermine your actual efforts of running an effective campaign. For instance, you can post a masterpiece tweet and only get a mere 10% engagement rate due to the simple fact that zombies can’t read or let alone respond to your online wisdom, no matter how good it is. And you’ll end up in a situation where you either have to admit your social media marketing incompetence to your client or come clean about tinkering with the numbers a little bit too much. Naturally, that’s a choice nobody would like to be forced to make, so try not to get yourself in such a tight spot.
Some fake accounts will not just stay down and quickly turn to the evil dead. The fact they’re not really interested about your posts and tweets doesn’t mean they’re not interested in your ‘surviving’ live part of audience. A lot of fake accounts out there are on the hunt to extend their zombie network, so they can and will haunt your audience with spam and are likely to attract even more bots and unwanted activity to your profiles.
And whereas you can probably protect your facebook and twitter by cutting down porn-links from the comments section of your posts with a chainsaw, who’s gonna protect your real followers?
You will be exposed as a necromancer lord eventually. Rather sooner than later, actually, since not only will people get suspicious, but there’s also many tools and services out there (both paid and free) to check any social media profile for the number of fake accounts. This gives anyone an opportunity to get the truth behind your sudden audience boom or audit the effectiveness of your social media campaign and put a serious dent in your and your company’s reputation.
Social Media Networks are certainly built for the living, and they enforce that idea with extreme prejudice. They don’t just send HAZMAT squads out to hunt zombie profiles, but outright nuke them in huge waves numbering hundreds of thousands.
So one day you might go to sleep happy to know you have 25,000 followers on facebook only to wake up the next day to see the number shrink to some 500. And you won’t even be the only one to notice that.
Certainly, we’ve just covered the tip of the mountain that is potential problems of buying traffic for your social media, but it looks more than enough to discourage you from that technique as it is.
Nevertheless, shouldn’t there be at least some advice on how to drive traffic to your social media profiles the right, zombie-free, way? Sure thing, but that’s a whole different story. And we’ll get back to you with it real soon, so stay tuned and live!