Social media startup tips from George Chilton, Creative Director of Hubbub Labs.
If you have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account, you’ve probably bumped into a bot or two. You may have even received messages from them offering you thousands of new social media followers, or dozens of fake likes a day, for a couple of hundred dollars. While most people ignore it, this can be tempting if you represent a brand, especially when your demanding boss expects you to grow your company’s online communities and “increase engagement”.
But don’t do it.
Buying followers is like making a presentation and filling half the auditorium with cardboard cutout people. It looks good when you take a selfie from the stage, but the applause is pretty weak.
It’s far better to have a small group of engaged followers, who represent your target market, than thousands of random accounts who pay you no attention.
So please, for the love of Zuckerberg, don’t make this horrible social media mistake. Here are 4 reasons why you should never buy online followers:
1. Fake social media followers hurt your marketing objectives
Think about why you set up a social media account in the first place. You want to be there for your customers, reach a wider audience with your content, potentially advertise your services, and talk to real people. It’s great branding and helps build your reputation.
Now imagine, for a moment, that instead of your customers, their friends and wider networks, you have a series of fake accounts following you.
What value will you give them? Absolutely none. At the end of the day it’s a vanity project that helps no-one but the people getting paid to follow you.
2. Zero engagement kills your visibility
Fake followers suck; they won’t ask you questions, they won’t like or share your posts and they certainly won’t get or give any value. All they’re doing is swelling your numbers and lowering your engagement ratio.
The numbers might look good at first glance, but this lower engagement ratio means your content will get rated lower by social media algorithms, and will therefore be less visible to real followers.
Fake likes don’t count as engagement, either. See what Facebook has to say about it:
Facebook takes into account Page engagement rates when deciding when and where to deliver a Page’s legitimate adverts and content, so Pages with artificially inflated like counts are harming themselves, making it more difficult and more expensive to reach the people they care about most — https://www.facebook.com/business/a/page/fake-likes
3. Buying fake social media followers and likes harms your reputation
You wouldn’t pay actors to come to your dinner party and pretend to be your friends. It would be humiliating if you were ever caught. The same goes for buying fake followers.
First of all, like fake dinner guests, fake accounts are obvious. They:
- Are clearly not part of your target audience
- Often tweet or post in unrelated languages
- Probably live on the other side of the world
- May have no photos (or weird photos)
Once you’ve been rumbled, people will have a hard time trying to trust you. Not only does it make you look vain, it shows that you’re desperate and unable to run a valuable social media account (I mean, who are you trying to kid, Donald?).
4. Breaking the rules could get you banned
Every platform has its own terms of service. Buy buying fake followers and likes you could well find yourself in hot water. Having a suspended personal account looks bad, having a suspended brand account is worse – particularly when you’re being paid to run it.
Twitter, for example, may temporarily block or permanently ban you from using the service if:
You are selling or purchasing account interactions (such as selling or purchasing followers, Retweets, likes, etc.).
You are using or promoting third-party services or apps that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast”, or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account).
Don’t take the short cut
A strong social media following can take time to build. Aim to deliver consistent value to your audiences you’ll begin to see more engagement. Speak to real people, ask questions and lead the conversation.