Building a large social media following is no easy task and will not happen overnight. Some brands may be tempted to ‘buy’ followers in order to build trust and engagement. But is this really an effective tactic? In this week’s Ask An SEO Expert, Bradley Smith, SEO Consultant at Slingshot SEO, explains what effect this practice actually has on your social standing.
Ask An SEO Expert – Buying Social Media Followers [Video]Do you believe that buying followers on social networks is an effective tool or a quick fix?
Well, that’s a good question. I’ll give you the short answer,and then I’ll go back and give you the long answer.
So the short answer is yes, I believe that buying followers on social networks is a quick fix.
Why do I think that? Well, in order to give that answer, I’ve got a couple of dates here.
January 25th, 2012 was the date that Google closed their open social graph API. That was basically a way for a user who was logged in to Google to be able to go and see how Google understood their social network connections.
They not only understood your Google connections, they also understood your Facebook, your Twitter, just anyway that you were connected to anybody that could pull all that data in and you could see it all right there.
So, that was closed on January 25th, 2012. We no longer have access. We no longer get to see how that works or how Google understands your social connections. But the point is that Google understands your social connections.
June 28, 2011. That was, of course, before this date and it was the time that Google+ rolled out. So Google+ rolled out on this date and it was by invite only. So for a period of time, actually until September 20th, 2011, it was invite only, Google was running through a lot of testing and I’m sure they’re still running through testing on different elements. But September 20th, 2011 Google Plus was rolled out to everyone.
So why do I point out these things about the open social graph API, the Google+ roll out? Well, the whole point of this was that Google is trying to understand how social networks play a roll in search. And in order to do that, they study their own data, and previously they also displayed that they understood data off of other social networks. So they understood Facebook and Twitter, and now they’re using Google Plus as their own social network way to understand.
So what we then get into is how does Google understand if you have bought a follower on a social network? For that I would like to talk about standard deviation. Standard deviation is just a concept that basically talks about the norm or the average. So Google has a way, I’m sure based on algorithms and mathematical formulas, to be able to tell what kind of results are outside of the standard how many followers somebody has, or the growth patterns of somebody in social network.
So if we think about this in relation to search, they have a whole spam team dedicated to figuring out what looks unnatural; and the spam team goes and does research and they have formulas and they have red flags that pop up based on a website trying to game or spam their website in a search engine. The exact same thing is the case for social networks, so this is the norm.
The standard deviation from what a normal growth pattern looks like in a social network or a user social network. And whenever Google starts to recognize little blips in the radar that are maybe outside of the norm, somebody’s growing really too slow or somebody’s growing way too fast, then they can detect spam. So, they have their own flags and their own formulas and different ways to identify when somebody is buying.
Remember, Google closed their social graph API when they opened up Google+. Now they’re using their own data but they understand Facebook and Twitter and other social connections.
What do they do? They look for something to be outside of the standard deviation. If they find something outside of the norm, then guess what? They can identify that as a quick fix or a spammer.
So hope that answers your question. Talk to you next time.
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