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As my brand on Instagram has been growing, there have been various offers that I’ve been getting. Some have been from modelling companies, but others have been about buying followers.
A few years ago, I would’ve bought those kinds of things. With my obsession with massive follower count, the promise of a good amount of followers at such a cheap price seemed like a great deal. In fact, I did buy these once upon a time. But now that I’m older and know the ins and outs of social media and marketing, I flag these as spam and don’t think anything much of them.
So why the shift in behaviour? Well because buying followers – or likes or impressions for that matter – serve no benefit to you and can hamper your overall growth in your business. Sure you get a surge of followers at a very cheap price, but the process causes a lot of damage to your account than you think.
Here is why you never want to buy followers.
They Never Engage
It’s a trap to think that when you buy followers that they are engaging followers. So often we mix up in our heads that “genuine followers” means real and engaging followers and impulse buy them. But the reality is that only a small amount of followers will engage with your content this way -if none at all.
The chances are high that these are nothing but bots that an individual or a company has made to mass follow people.
Even if these offers promise engagement, it’s usually an empty comment. Could be a picture or an automated “nice post”. Nothing of genuine substance. And that lack of genuine substance can be very harmful to an appliance repair store or startup that plans to buy followers.
But on the surface having a lack of engagement isn’t going to be furthering your goals and by the end of it, people will be figuring out that you bought followers.
You Could Get Bot Comments
Stemming from the previous point, you could also get unwanted comments. Beyond the “nice post”s and other generic comments, you could also get comments from different languages. Worse these could be comments pushing sex toys or talking about extremist political groups.
Furthermore these could be happening at such a frequent pace that there wouldn’t be much opportunity for genuine followers to engage with your content let alone leave something meaningful that you’ll notice.
And of course, these types of comments aren’t very helpful to you.
Buy Followers, Get Spam
The other thing that bought followers bring is spam. If it’s not already clear by the incessant “nice post” you could be getting, some of those followers could also be fronts for spam. As a result, you are subjecting yourself to all kinds of spam comments and posts. Worse, these could move to other areas of your business.
For example, if you needed to provide your email address when you bought the accounts or even have links posted on the profile you bought them for, you could be spammed in those areas too. Furthermore, this could spread to other followers since when accounts follow other people, they tend to follow back. And following a spam account means they’re opening their door to spam.
Buy Followers, Your Account Could Get Locked Up
Fake followers is such a problem that many social media sites have cracked down on these types of things too. Many of them have agreed to purge these accounts, but others have decided to ban accounts that have an influx of these – or at least place heavy restrictions on your account.
Even if you haven’t paid much for the followers, you could end up with significantly less followers than what you paid for and being penalized further for having done that.
Another angle to look at it is getting an influx of followers could raise suspicion from the social media platform and they may outright lock you out regardless. The reason I know this is that this happened to me on Instagram when my marketing team first started publishing a lot of content. Even though the content was genuine, I was so inactive for years that Instagram locked me out of my account after my marketing team started posting. So they do keep an eye on all kinds of unusual behaviour.
While many people buy followers because they want to be an influencer, this action can destroy any kind of business. A business is an extension of yourself and naturally you want to position yourself as a reliable source of information. You want people to engage with you and see you as a credible person. Furthermore when they follow you, you want the reason to be that they trust you.
Well, you’re not going to look very credible – or trustworthy – if your posts are filled with comments like “nice post”, “good one”, or random images or links promoting sex toys.
These days, a businesses value is placed on so many things beyond the sales that they make. There is the strength and presence on social media and online in general. Not to mention the followers that you have built up as well.
It’s along the same lines as the many shoutout collaborations that I’ve received over the past few months. Even though the people who approached me had hundreds of thousands of followers, it means squat to me if the brand is all about beauty products, makeup and female fashion. It means nothing to me at all.
It tells me that their followers won’t engage with my content since they have completely different interests.
That same thought process isn’t too different from a customer looking at a person’s brand and that person indulged in buying followers.
Instead of taking the shortcut to inflate numbers, it’s smarter to build your follower count organically. And if you want to be spending money, it’s better to spend it on the in-platform ads the platform encourages to use.
Can’t Increase Revenue When You Buy Followers
Why are you considering buying followers in the first place?
This is a question you need to ask yourself when you are spending money to buy followers or on anything really. Why are you paying money for this?
In the case of buying followers, you know already that they’re not going to be getting engagement beyond a pointless spam comment. So what makes you think that they’ll buy whatever you are selling?
Businesses know that a fraction of their followers will buy what their selling. But as a business, it’s worth considering how you can increase that follower to customer ratio. Getting a fake follower or a follower through these buy follower programs won’t tip the scales in your favour as they will forever be a follower.
Their sole purpose is to possibly inflate your following count, which really doesn’t matter as much as you think it does these days.
They Discourage Genuine Followers To Follow
Both possible followers and business will check your follower count when contemplating on following you. If you aren’t one to follow many accounts, it tells potential followers you don’t care too much about following people or that you’re not interested in the industry that you are trying to grow in.
Furthermore, if those who are following you are from profiles that are sketchy or have little substance, it’s fair to say those looking at your followers will think you will offer the same thing.
The key to growing your brand is to have those who share similar interests be following you. That’s not going to be happening if you have stuffed your follower account with junk accounts.
Followers And Likes Matter Less Now
Followers and likes these days don’t matter as much as they used to. When social media came out, everyone was on about having lots of followers, and likes and caring about follower to following ratio. Now it doesn’t matter so much as brands are shifting to more authenticity. From this genuineness, businesses are expecting their followers to offer that genuineness back in the form of sharing the content or taking actions that the post mentions or commenting with something genuine beyond “nice post.”
There’s also the argument that Gary Vaynerchuk made where followers might see the content but not consume it. For example, they could see an ad on Youtube but be off doing other things – like checking their phone or on another tab. And yet analytics will count that as a “view”. So even if you have genuine followers, they could be distracted. But that’s a whole other issue.
In the case of buying followers, even though many businesses and people generally like validation from follower counts and likes, these mean nothing for a business’s growth anymore. A bunch of followers you bought isn’t going to revolutionize your business. Having thousands of likes – or impressions – isn’t going to mean much. What will matter is people buying what you’re selling, clicking links that you’ve posted, and share the content with other people.
To Buy Followers Is Putting Your Money To Waste
Leaning more into the validation of getting an influx of followers – and likes – another reason is that it’s so addictive. Even though you knew it was going to happen, seeing those numbers climb up brings a certain level of satisfaction from it – a high of dopamine.
But that’s only one of the few merits from this. A feel good feeling, and an inflated follower count that doesn’t matter.
To me, this sounds like a complete waste of money and time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t feel good about growing follower counts. But there is more satisfaction when you do it genuinely and organically.
Even if you’ve only spent $20 on it, that $20 could’ve been better spent somewhere else.
Your Analytics Get Messed Up When You Buy Followers
The final reason to never buy followers is that your analytics are diluted. It’s along the same lines as Gary Vaynerchuk explained above where people view the content but don’t consume it. That discrepancy will inflate further when you buy followers.
For example, say you go and buy 100,000 followers, but that 100 are legit and respond to your posts. This means your engagement rate is 0.001 percent. That’s not very impressive if your goal is to build your brand with engaging followers or even use the following count as a selling point for your business.
Again, it follows along the same lines as those shoutout companies that reached out to me. Sure they’re engaging with their content but it’s hard to say that they’ll do the same for my own content which is completely different to theirs.
A stark comparison to that is having 2,000 followers that have 400 engaged users. When looking at that, the engagement rate is 20 percent. Even if these numbers seem low, these are good numbers for any small business to work with.
Overall, the engagement rate is what matters most for a business. This is why you hear people putting so much value on engagement rate rather than follower count.
Don’t Buy Followers
For all the above reasons, you’re only making things worse for you if you choose to buy followers. Just as I learned the hard way, there is very few – and no good – reasons to be buying followers ever.
If you want to be growing your business, it boils down to you hustling and using real marketing strategies and creating quality and meaningful content people want to engage with.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon