Hispanic-owned marketing and public relations companies have traditionally been on the outside looking in. As a group, we have not been privy to some of the insider strategies and tactics used by the larger Fortune 50 companies.

Late last year, I learned one of the biggest untold secrets in the social media marketing business.  Large corporations across many service and retail industries (think car manufacturers, liquor producers, brand-name retailers) were buying Facebook fans and Twitter followers from social media agencies.

Just to be clear – we are not talking about “fake” Facebook fans. These fans are real people with Facebook and Twitter accounts -just like you and me- who are being lured into hitting ‘LIKE’ on various Facebook fan pages.

Non-disclosure agreements have traditionally kept this strategy out of the newspapers and trade magazines and for good reason. If you sell a food snack, you don’t want your customers and competitors to know you spend $100,000 a month on fan base acquisition. You want customers to believe everyone loves your food, which is why your product has millions of fans. Social media agencies also had an incentive to keep this strategy secret because fan acquisition is very lucrative.

With money like that, you knew it was only a matter of time before creative social media entrepreneurs learned how to tap into this technology. One social media company that is selling real Facebook fans and real Twitter followers is BigBirdFans.com. (Full-disclosure: 3M Media Group – my employer- is a partial owner and investor of BigBirdFans.com).

So how does this social media strategy work and is it more cost-effective than growing your fan base via traditional organic means?

3M Media Group has run traditional social media campaigns for all kinds of clients – lounges, restaurants, reality TV personalities, hotels. We helped grow their fan base, using organic components like video, giveaways, flash coupons and insider content.

But those traditional organic methods can be costly. Restaurants need to subsidize those Facebook food specials; nightclubs have to cover their free drink giveaways; quality video programming can be costly to produce; businesses must pay for the labor of social media. Now consider the alternative of buying 2,000 real Facebook fans for as little as $1500.

Every business wants to convert fans into new business, and that is something BigBirdFans can do via customized options, locating real fans based on sex, age, zip codes, likes, etc. But for some industries, like nightclubs and restaurants, sheer numbers of fans are equally important to finding new business because it reinforces the image that your product is in demand. In these situations, buying real fans outright can be the most cost efficient method for acquiring fans.

Only you can answer whether it is better to buy real Facebook fans or to grow them the “old fashioned way,” but at least your business now has some of the same social media tools at its disposal as the Fortune 100 companies.

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