When busi­ness­es hire me to help grow their fol­low­ers on Insta­gram or Face­book they are doing this because they under­stand the val­ue of hav­ing the eye­balls of qual­i­ty poten­tial clients or cus­tomers view their posts. They cor­rect­ly under­stand that it’s not the quan­ti­ty but the qual­i­ty of their fol­low­ers that will ulti­mate­ly trans­late to dol­lar signs and make their invest­ment worth­while. How­ev­er, hav­ing a large num­ber of fol­low­ers is nev­er a bad thing, which is why web­sites like Social­fol­low® can be so impor­tant for peo­ple look­ing for a larg­er fol­low­ing.

Once in a while a client asks me if it’s worth it to buy fol­low­ers.
The ones who ask me that ques­tion gen­er­al­ly fall into the fol­low­ing three cat­e­gories:
1) They are impa­tient and want fast results.
2) They are con­cerned about their com­peti­tors who have more fol­low­ers than them and want to appear more suc­cess­ful.
3) They believe the high­er the num­ber the more impor­tant and rel­e­vant they look and this will lead to more busi­ness.

My answer to those clients ask­ing whether to buy or not to buy is always an unequiv­o­cal no. It’s a very bad idea to buy fol­low­ers and here’s why.

#1 Low Engagement / Low Results

When you buy fol­low­ers or fans, you aren’t get­ting peo­ple who are inter­est­ed or will­ing to engage with you. You are mere­ly buy­ing num­bers. After pay­ing for followers/fans you are like­ly to get a large num­ber of fake accounts amongst your num­ber. This means that while you appear to have a lot of fans, very few peo­ple will like and com­ment. More impor­tant­ly none of your non qual­i­ty (most­ly fake) fol­low­ers will trans­late to busi­ness. In fact, adding in fol­low­ers that don’t inter­act with your account reduces the per­cent­age of engage­ment you will get. On some plat­forms, like Face­book, this will work against you. Face­book has a fan­cy algo­rithm it uses to decide what brand con­tent it will fil­ter to the news feed. Hav­ing a dwin­dling engage­ment rate tells this algo­rithm that your fol­low­ers aren’t inter­est­ed in your posts. So they will allow few­er of your posts into the news feed organ­i­cal­ly. Which means you have to buy more ads to reach your fol­low­ers. If you’re look­ing for real and nat­ur­al engage­ment with your posts then you’ll want to look towards organ­ic fol­low­er growth — not fake fol­low­ers! You need real fol­low­ers for Insta­gram (or any social media plat­form for that mat­ter) if you hope to have any mean­ing­ful engage­ment and grow your influ­ence online. Plus, fake fol­low­ers are pret­ty notice­able to the savvy user and just isn’t a pro­fes­sion­al look.

#2 SPAM!

Some ser­vices you buy fol­low­ers from are extra shady beyond just sell­ing you fake fol­low­ers. Since they have access to your account, they can spam your fol­low­ers with ads for their ser­vice, or any­thing real­ly. Great for them! Not so much for you or your fol­low­ers.

#3 Loss of Reputation.

It’s fair to say that peo­ple see buy­ing fol­low­ers as a rather immoral thing to do. Peo­ple view it as you try­ing to appear more pop­u­lar than you are and doing it by dodgy means. Peo­ple may not know that you’ve bought fol­low­ers, but going from 30 fol­low­ers or likes to 30,000 in the space of a cou­ple of days is bound to get peo­ple sus­pi­cious, and then your integri­ty and rep­u­ta­tion could well be in tat­ters. In busi­ness your rep­u­ta­tion is every­thing. It isn’t worth it to ruin it over attempt­ing to look more suc­cess­ful than you are. But how, you may ask, can peo­ple even know you bought fol­low­ers? Most new customers/clients won’t ana­lyze your Insta­gram or Face­book and inves­ti­gate. Most like­ly they’ll believe your fol­low­ers are legit…well not so…

#4 You’ll get caught!

In fact a lot of peo­ple are cur­rent­ly get­ting found out. A new tool on the block is mak­ing it even eas­i­er. The Fake Fol­low­ers Check check from Sta­tus peo­ple analy­ses your fol­low­ers to see how many are fake. The inter­est­ing thing is you can do the analy­sis on oth­er accounts too. In addi­tion peo­ple are smart. When they see 30,000 fol­low­ers but under 100 likes on a post, they know some­thing is fishy. When they see most of your fol­low­ers are for­eign­ers or dodgy, they know some­thing is up. And the moment they sus­pect that you inflat­ed your num­bers, you are back to issue #2…loss of rep­u­ta­tion. Some­times, you only have legit­i­mate fol­low­ers and have nev­er bought any before, some­one may still accuse you of buy­ing them. If that hap­pens and you find that your rep­u­ta­tion is being dam­aged (and by exten­sion, your busi­ness) by some­one mak­ing false claims about your fol­low­ers, you may need to con­sult with a defama­tion lawyer to dis­cuss your options.

So what is the main les­son? Well apart from it being immoral to buy your fol­low­ers, the num­ber of fol­low­ers you have real­ly isn’t that impor­tant. Work on build­ing a com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple who are inter­est­ed in you or your product/service. If you fol­low this for­mu­la you will most cer­tain­ly suc­ceed.

You can start by hir­ing a pro­fes­sion­al with a proven track record to get you start­ed. There are many incred­i­ble tips and tricks that legit­i­mate­ly attract peo­ple who want to fol­low you. Be it con­tests, boost­ing posts, hash­tags, pro­vid­ing qual­i­ty posts, being active on social media and engag­ing with cus­tomers etc. At MLWDESIGN, I pre­fer to get you start­ed and train you to run your own social media because I firm­ly believe there is no one who can do a bet­ter job rep­re­sent­ing you, then you. Be wary of com­pa­nies who claim they can boost your fol­low­ers fast…they are often get­ting you fake fol­low­ers too! Build­ing a brand on social media isn’t about get­ting more fol­low­ers than every­one else, it’s about get­ting into a niche mar­ket and build­ing con­nec­tions with real peo­ple that appre­ci­ate your prod­uct and-most impor­tant­ly-are will­ing to spend mon­ey on it. Inter­ac­tion with your fol­low­ers is the best way to learn about your audi­ence as well. Cre­at­ing a qual­i­ty fol­low­er base takes hard work-work that will pay off in actu­al dol­lars and cents if you give it the time it needs. One way of cre­at­ing a great fol­low­er base is through using per­son­al­ized mar­ket­ing to try and tar­get peo­ple that you think would vis­it your web­site or pur­chase your prod­ucts. It makes sense to tar­get those indi­vid­u­als, as they are your tar­get mar­ket. By learn­ing about per­son­al­ized mar­ket­ing, your busi­ness should be able to attract the peo­ple that are most like­ly to engage with your busi­ness. Web­sites like SheerID (see here) could be use­ful for busi­ness­es who are look­ing to improve their mar­ket­ing, so make sure to vis­it a web­site like that if you need help reach­ing your tar­get mar­ket. As you start pro­duc­ing con­tent direct­ed at your tar­get mar­ket, you’ll be more like­ly to grow a fol­low­er base and your sales. It may seem daunt­ing at first, but with a lit­tle plan­ning, and some elbow grease you will get you the fol­low­ers-and cus­tomers-of your dreams and main­tain your integri­ty.

Jan 1, 2017 / Blog / Mus­ings

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