4500 Facebook Fans For 40 Bucks: How To Quickly Grow An Unengaged Following That Doesn't Care About Your Brand

“Hey lady… Do you want more fans? I’ve got some right here.”

“Hey lady… Do you want more fans? I’ve got some right here.”

“Look, I know you’re talented but the world won’t believe that if you only have 500 fans on your Facebook page. You need social proof.”

I swallowed hard.

I knew that I only had 500 fans on my Facebook page. Nobody was more aware of that than I was. That Facebook page was as new as my business - a whole six weeks old, in fact. Every part of me wanted to believe that 500 fans in 6 weeks was nothing to be ashamed of. I believed wholeheartedly in being of integrity and that there was power in being who you say you are. I really believed it! But, my belief in the importance of being unapologetic was no match for the immense insecurity that I felt as an entrepreneur.

“You need more fans or nobody will take you seriously.”

On a good day, being taken seriously is important to me. On that day, on the heels of the most insecure time of my life, being taken seriously was what I craved more than anything. All I wanted in this world was to be taken seriously enough to attract clients.

“I know a way that we can explode your audience overnight… and it’s cheap.”

I took a deep breath. In my work, I advocated STRONGLY against buying social media followers. I told her that I would not do this.

“Oh no! We aren’t buying followers! This is just a simple ad strategy. Trust me, it works like magic.”

Ok… now THIS was intriguing. I mean, Facebook Ads have been my friend for a long, long time. I love the product and I’ve gotten great results over the years. How could I argue with that??

We got to work and set up the ad. She was right, nothing about this ad violated Facebook terms. It was completely above board, technically speaking. She told me the specific colours and ad copy to use. She set the targeting options to include a population that I had never run an ad to before. We set the budget to $40 and we hit “Publish”.

I watched as the new fans started to accumulate on my page over the next 24 hours. 500, 700, 900…1500… 2000… 5000. From 500 to 5000 Likes for $40. I had a global audience - most of the new fans were from parts of the world that were unknown to me - in markets that were rarely served by Facebook ads. Buried deep under the surface was a faint awareness that none of these people were my buyer persona, so I piled on exuberant enthusiasm for my new trick, acting as though every like was evidence of the fact that I would be a successful entrepreneur.

I asked my coach: “Do these people ever comment or engage?” She laughed: “No! That’s the beauty, they’ll just be fans of your page but they won’t ever engage with your content.” And, although that statement goes against everything I know to be true about the Facebook algorithm, I decided to bury my own values and knowledge to attach my worth to the 4500 transactional connections that I had just made instead.  

The Truth About A Big (for me), Transactional Audience

Armed with my 500 real fans and 4500 new, transactional ones, I kept making content for my page. My coach was right. The only people who engaged with my content were my 500 real fans. 4500 people ignored every piece of content that I produced.

But hey, at least the people who would judge me by the number of followers I had would be impressed by my social proof… right?

I watched a few other business friends grow their pages in the very same way. I saw their numbers climb higher and felt validation that I belonged to an exclusive club with a great insider tactic… for a while.

The thing is, after the excitement of my big, shiny audience wore off, I was left with this feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was left with my pesky values and beliefs that I had crumpled up and swallowed in my pursuit of social proof and I couldn’t digest them.

Because to me, the 4500 people who were fans of my page but weren’t engaging with me were still people. When I posted, I wondered about them. Were they reading my blogs? Did they speak English? Did they care about the things that I cared about? Did they realize that they were social proof?

That stomach pit turned into guilt. That guilt turned into shame. I lived to build connection - I believed SO deeply in the power of creating connection in marketing! And here I was with an audience that I couldn’t connect to. I was a hypocrite.

4500 transactional followers did nothing for my business. If I ever got a client because of social proof, I’m not aware of it. My clients came from the same place that they always have - connection, content and real relationships. My engagement didn’t improve either.

Eventually, I shut down the page. I wasn’t proud of this audience that wasn’t connecting with my content. I didn’t feel right about treating these fans like currency for my own vanity. I stopping caring about social proof.

Growing A Real Audience

We launched the Marrow Facebook page 14 months ago. As of today, we have 719 fans and 737 followers. Sometimes we run ads, but those ads are targeted at the people who will get value from our content. Our organic reach is fantastic in a time where that isn’t the norm and our fans engage with us regularly.  

It’s slower this way, but slow means that you can take the time to notice more. We have more conversations with our audience. We know them - we know their fears, motivations and goals. We know what they care about. We know how we can help them. They are our community and they’re the most valuable 737 people that we could have ever wished for.

It was easy to get 4500 new fans. It was easy to get caught up in clicks and likes. It was easy to give vanity metrics more value than they’re worth. It was easy to take the endorphin rush.

It was cheap and it was easy.

I’ll take slow and real over cheap and easy any day of the week.

Can you tell when someone has grown their audience overnight? Tell us about it!