Is buying fans/followers/views Social Media Prostitution?

social-networks-V2 Over the last two years there have been quite a few companies that have sprung up that allow people and companies to purchase followers, fans, views, retweets, repines and a variety of other social media services. These services have been utilized by major celebrities, political figures as well as companies and brands. It wasn't until recently did the services come to light and start to receive scrutiny from the social media networks as well as other social media experts, but it was only a matter of time before quick fix options became a business (social media services is now on its way to being a 100+ million dollar industry in just a few years). Facebook continues to update and adjust it's advertising services and allows you to bid on CPC campaigns to get more fans, which seems to be an elaborate approach to buying fans, is it not? Twitter's advertising solution allows you to promote your account in user's stream and thus get more Twitter followers and yes, this service costs, so isn't just another way to buy fans? YouTube gives you the opportunity to setup video ads that appear before people watch YouTube videos which after they watch there's a call to action which can include asking them to subscribe, this service costs and gives you YouTube views and subscribers, so isn't that another way to buy them?

Personally, I have developed social media strategies to help companies build their following using content strategy methods, specific delivery times and two-way interaction but I do understand how social media services you purchase can be useful. I think it all comes down to this, when you purchase services, it's for perception, to appear bigger than you are and get people to follow you based on that, but the relationships are unreal and non-existent. But when you build your following in a more organic manner, then you develop true relationships with them and create a longer lasting, mutually beneficial online social media relationship.

Which goes back to my title, if your goal is to just get fans in numbers, then take the prostitute route and just pay for it and get the immediate results. But if you want to develop a true interactive online social media following then you have to put in the time and work it takes to wine and dine them, advertise to them, promote posts and tweets and tell them you really care.

For more information about Social Media check out How to Get One Million Social Media Fans by Jason Caston.