A Photographer’s Confession – How I Paid for Facebook Fans.

By Gavin Seim

So what’s five dollar fandom like? It’s just like buying advertising, right? Well, I have to confess something today. I did pay for Facebook fans. I know, sick, right? No, I don’t mean I bought an ad in order to get people to my page. That would have been fine. Wait, is it any different? Well, yes. When you pay someone to spread the word in order to gain “real interest,” it’s different. It’s like paying for an ad in the personals or joining a dating site. It may be a little cheesy at times, but it can still be genuine, and sometimes it’s a working approach.

But that’s not what I did today. I went to a site called Fiverr. It’s an interesting place where anyone can sell pretty much any item or service for five bucks: bracelets made of soda tops, video promos, ads on Twitter accounts, people suggesting Facebook pages to their friends, etc. Kinda interesting.

Then I found an offering that promised more: an immediate growth in fans. The one I picked promised at least 250 +Likes for just $5.00. I know, it was self-serving. But 250 fans? I paused. I’ve always been about good content. The slow nurturing of quality followers. My Seim Studios photography page already had over 1500 real fans. But I wanted to know how this worked. I wanted a taste of rapid growth. So I did it. I bought into five dollar fandom. And I got what I paid for.

A couple hours later, my fans skyrocketed. Yep. Just as all the previous buyers on this offering said. It was for real. In about two hours, I went from around 1510 to 1776. Passing by two centuries in a blink. I had done it. I had new fans, and I was flying. Flying…but not so high. In fact, for a few moments, I was flying low enough that I think my belly button was skimming the weeds. I even confessed to my wife. The reviews didn’t mention that the fans gained were completely without gratification.

It was like a time machine in a bad movie. I may have arrived at the destination, but the plot was no better when I got there. I felt dirty. As though I had paid for fans… Wait, I did pay for fans. I keep telling myself I did it for you. To test the waters and make sure it was safe. To protect you from…. O.K. Honestly, the business side of me simply could not resist the idea of so many new fans, in so little time.

So, what’s the scoop? As far as I can tell, this is not some hacker. The new fans come from FB accounts that have few friends and odd foreign names. And they come fast. I’m guessing there are either a ton of accounts owned by one person (yea, shady), or some sort of fan network where people agree to fan pages for each other. Either way, these people have no real interest in me and will probably never think of me again.

So, the bottom line is this: it’s NOT the best way to gain fans. Yes, you can grab some quick cred on your page. Particularly if you have a new page, this is VERY tempting. It’s not illegal or anything like that, but I speak from today’s experience. It does not feel gratifying. I have pages like Seim Effects with more than 5k fans, fans I worked to get by offering value and sharing ideas. That feels good. Buying fans, not so much. My studio page is still a quality place. These irrelevant fans won’t change that. But every time I look at my numbers from now on, I’ll be mentally deducting those 250 or so fans that “didn’t really count,” and I’ll never be able to forget that I paid for for it.

So is buying ads and trying to gain reach all bad? No. But few things are free, quality clients least of all. So think about what you really want. Will numbers really satisfy you or do you want real people who actually are interested in what you do and will spread the word to others? That takes time. But as for me, I plan to stick with quality +Like’s from now on. That’s not to say I won’t ever buy advertising (though it doesn’t usually work that well either). But I want followers that actually are relevant and who are interested in what I do. On that note, if you want to read my notes for cultivating a quality page, read my 10 Tips for Taming the Power of Your Facebook Page.

My confession has ended. The grimy weight is sliding off my shoulders as I strike these square keys. I am moving on.


At this same time of my craving for fans, I spent another five bucks on another promotion. Five dollars to have someone actually suggest my page to “their” friends. I gained another nice chunk of what seem to be “real fans” from this. Nothing like the 200+ useless fans, but 20-30 actual users, which is far better. The difference is that this is not a promised number where non relevant profiles +like your page, simply for the sake of your ego. Those are real Facebook users, who saw my page suggestion on the sellers wall and decided to +Like it. Would I sell a page suggestion on my personal profile for $5. Not a chance, but I see no problem with buying one if someone is offering it. These seem to be honest-to-goodness people, who, if you provide relevant content, may take a genuine interest in your page. Just like buying an ad.