No one in my industry is going to like what I’m about to share. I'm not a fan of “buying followers” or trading follows in social media. But if you want quantity and you don’t give a damn about quality, then consider this your guide.

In the interest of transparency, I’ll tell you straight up that social media (SEO, content, online media buyers) professionals want you to believe there's no way to you could possibly do what we do. But that's a lie. It might be more accurate to say there's no way you could possibly do what we do as WELL as we do it.

One baseline measure is hiring a company to increase your "F3" – or your "friends, fans and followers."

!SPOILER ALERT! – The following information will indeed allow you to cheaply increase your numbers, but most of them are what we consider "junk numbers." These connections will be nothing more than numeric padding to make you look good. These WILL NOT be quality leads that result in new business. They WILL NOT offer any real communicative value, nor will they serve you in any way except to say, "Look at me! I have more followers that you.” These are vanity numbers, pure and simple. 

Despite the negative connotation of “vanity numbers,” this could be helpful for some businesses. If a company has not done any social media communication with their customer base, it’s hard to break into the pack and look competitive with eight Twitter followers. So you might want to take this approach initially to get some visual clout.

I know some of you think these methods are cheating, and I agree. I also say that he who has not lied to improve their product, brand or message can cast the first stone. We're a capitalistic society that puts importance on numbers. The more you have, the higher your perceived value. I think this is bullshit, but that's another story entirely. 

So now I’ll show you how the magic tricks work.

TweetAdder – This is an automated tool that follows people within a given search criteria. If you follow that account back, then they have gained a follower. The tool often will return to the new follower and “unfollow” them to create the illusion that the initial account is more desirable to follow. Many industry professionals frown on this application, but it does have an array of amazing features. I recommend looking at it for legitimate traffic aggregation as well.

Fiverr – A community of hundreds of people will perform small tasks for $5 per job. Tasks include design, following, music and countless other actions. 

Follow Backs – If you include #followback, #followsback and other hashtags in your Tweets and your Twitter profile, you're advocating that you will indeed follow anyone who follows you. This is initially often the case, but beware they will frequently unfollow you, too, without your knowledge.

Buying Connections – Call it what you want, but if you Google "buying followers," you'll see there are a ton a services willing to give you crap.

Automation Tools – All social media professionals probably are sitting in front of one of the following tools. And while they're all very good it can also be said that the “automation” of these tasks is cheating. But hey, feel free to waste your life away posting to every social account. Who am I to judge!?! 

Things to know – You can buy followers from the United States and Canada, but if you want a cheaper way to inflate your numbers, they will more than likely come from India and the Philippines. When purchasing Twitter traffic, there are services that require your username and password. But for an upgrade fee, you can avoid letting anyone have even temporary access to your account.

People will ask me after this post why I (as a social media professional) would let everyone peek under the skirt. I say this to you: There's a dark side to every industry. And while I don't agree with it 99.5 percent of the time, it's better to be educated than to think a service provider does what they do with potions and spells. And with this bit of education, it might make some customers aware that if they hire a sub-par agency, they might simply be paying for these basic services that are marked up 1,000 percent.

The only way to get real traffic is to earn it. Genuine talk, conversation and humble advocacy are the ways to win.

Should you use a professional agency? 

Absolutely if you really want the fans and followers to be actual people you can nurture into loyalists. We plan, research, engross ourselves in your brand and your competitors, and have the experience and strategic mindset to win at a very hard game.

That being said, above all I recommend that businesses understand what they're doing. And if someone promises you 10,000 followers, it might be true. But the likelihood that it will render a river of revenue is highly unlikely.