One of the things I get asked most often in my business is whether social media works and whether it is beneficial to purchase likes and follows. Those of you that have put up a business page on Facebook or launched a website are immediately inundated with offers to drive traffic to your webpage or sell you follows and likes. There are also the traditional marketing consultants that tell you that follows and likes equals more business and thus you should pay them to market you online.

The reality about social media is that it is like all other media channels, whether print, on television or online. It has to do with the number of eyeballs that see your webpage or Facebook page. That is what those selling you their services tell you. But, it is only part of the truth. The most important factor is the engagement. Sure, 1,000 people may have seen your snazzy Facebook post your company posted, but how many were driven to purchase your product or service?

That is the bottom line.

Thousands of followers and likes are nothing more than a façade – a fake one at that.

The thing about social media engagement is that traction is only achieved through organic engagement. Organic engagement is when someone likes or follows a page because they were attracted to it. Those are the types of likes and follows that really matter.

But they are difficult to achieve because it requires a lot of work.

Invariable the question is whether it is better to purchase likes or follows or build them organically. Artificiality is obvious, especially on social media. Sure, it looks good to have thousands of likes and follows, but they are stagnant. Organically created likes and follows are engaged people who drive your brand or your services. They are like your business ambassadors and they are the valuable ones.

However, there is a school of thought that argues that when a visitor lands on your social media page, they are more likely to follow through and engage by seeing thousands of likes or follows. That is what the peddlers of artificial likes and follows want you to believe. Just, remember, they are fake and obvious to the people that matter to your brand.

Is it possible to grow your social media channel organically and without spending money?

Yes, but it does require some work and some strategy. Organically engaged visitors are driven by something you posted that resonates a common need or a common activity with them. Timing is everything.

Social media is about the timing of consumption. People gravitate to social media to fill their need for content. If you offer compelling content, they will consume it but they won’t necessarily reward you with a like or a follow. Only 1 to 2% of viewers take that extra step to follow or like your content. They are consumers devouring the free stuff seldom conscious of the effort and expense that went into creating the content they are enjoying. We have become a society of digital consumption based on the notion that content is free.

That is the battle that every business owner faces.

I tell my clients to forgo paying for likes and follows and instead focus on creating compelling content that viewers will consume. Not only is that expensive but it takes time to build the business network. Remember, usually two out of every 100 viewers you engage will follow through and reward your content with a like, a share or a follow. You must reach thousands to trend your network.

But not all is lost. If you have the talent and the willingness to work a hyped-up event, you can create the social media network with just your talents. Today, I am going to share with you my most recent case study. Granted, I took advantage of the Super Bowl and of the controversial topic of Donald Trump’s immigration executive orders. Although my example is politically-driven, it can be applied to businesses as well. For example, an attorney can use the immigration controversy to generate interest, or a car salesmen or a realtor can latch on to rising interest rates as their vehicle to generate the attention.

What you need, is a controversy and a vehicle.

Here is what I did.

Sunday was the Super Bowl. It gave me the perfect vehicle to launch my No Pinche Wall Project boycotting Donald Trump’s hate-driven attacks upon my country. My campaign is simple, engage followers to boycott companies that enable Donald Trump. To bring attention to my newly minted Facebook page, I created it on Saturday night, I used the hashtag #nopinchewall and created 20 social media posts.

On Sunday morning, my Facebook No Pinche Wall had one follower, me.

By the end of the day, I had 28 followers on my page and I had reached 21,053 people thought my newly-minted Facebook page. All without spending a dime.

I achieved this by posting an invitation on my personal Facebook page to help me trend the hashtag. It directed my followers to my new page. I then strategically selected six of my most influential followers and asked them to like my page. Only two obliged, but it created the base from which to grow my followers.

I then posted an invitational graphic on my Twitter feed and on two other Facebook pages I manage.

Four hours before the game started I started posting different feed images focusing on the two teams, on Donald Trump, the immigration issue and on two companies that I support, Budweiser and Starbucks, because of their pro-immigration stance. Each of my posts carried with them the key hashtag and another hashtag that was trending on Facebook and Twitter at the time I posted the newest image. I was using the trending hashtags as click-bait.

Each new post engaged a new viewer and as they landed on the page they saw other postings that caught their attention. Some of them, then liked the page until I reached the 28 I ended the day with. But, but that is less than one percent that is expected from any marketing campaign is likely the thought that crossed your mind as you saw the numbers.

You are correct, but I consider the campaign successful because each of the follows and likes are organic in nature. That is that these follows are likely to consume my future content and become ambassadors for my project. These social media users are very likely to engage in each new post I add to my social media channel because they are invested in my project. The more I post in the coming weeks, the larger my audience will grow.

I should point out that the graphics I created for my campaign were antagonistic and intended to get reactions out of the viewers. I wanted people to engage. I needed click bait to drive them to click.

Millions of dollars were spent by many companies for the Super Bowl advertising. I spent no money, just my labor and piggy-backed on their momentum to create a successful social media marketing campaign.

Now it is up to me to keep the momentum going. I need to feed the animal I created. I need to deliver the content that the followers are expecting to see when they next access Facebook.

The business owners in you are likely wondering, well that’s not a great return on investment (ROI), only 28 follows in 24 hours. They should reconsider that because I spent no cash, my ROI is fantastic, at least one like per hour.

However, I recognize that for a business owner, 28 likes are not enough. They need thousands.

My technique still applies.

They key is focusing on creating compelling content and not purchasing likes or follows.

Instead of spending money to buy the likes, spend the money on hiring a graphics designer, a videographer or a writer to create interesting content that will get people engaged to your product.

For example, instead of posting a new open house listing, have someone, or you yourself, create a list of the ten most important things a home buyer needs to have in credit to buy a house. Or, provide a list of services that offer down payment alternatives, or even a list of the top ten mistakes all buyers make when purchasing a house. Have a digital artist put the list into a nice printable poster and post it on your social media channel. Create five to ten of these service posts and then add your listing. Then start again.

Over time you will build a network of followers who will become your ambassadors who will send the link to your next listing to their one friend looking to buy a home.

Buying likes and follows may result in a thousand of them, but 100 followers who regularly engage with your content are more likely to drive a buyer to you then the 1,000 that don’t even know they liked your page, or worse yet, are fake profiles without a buyer behind them.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

3 replies on “Hashtag Marketing – My Case Study”

  1. Martin, have you ever been in the Campestre area and seen the walls the people have between their homes ? At least 10 feet high with bottles broken that were installed into the cement to cut those who try to crawl over. You Messycans(and i mean Nationality) are such Hypocrites.

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