It’s easy to look at certain Instagram and Twitter pages and say “their content isn’t as good as mine. How do they have so many followers?” With more people becoming social media savvy every day, organic growth becomes harder with every post. Some people are going to take the path of least resistance and buy followers. Even though it violates virtually every social media service’s ToS, the practice is far more commonplace than you would think, but is it worth it?
Why People Buy
The old adage of “fake it till you make it” still rings true, doubly so in the world of social media. In a space where everyone is trying to put their best foot (or face) forward having a large following is vital to your marketability. Companies and small businesses view their followers as potential clients/customers, and the larger the number the more eyes you get on your product. For individuals, a big follower count is a metric used by marketers to see if they want to reach out for sponsored content.
In a report by Linqia, budgets for influencer marketing are increasing every year. There is a lot more at stake when it comes to follower counts. To some, it is a direct representation of how healthy and popular your brand is.
On Twitter “buying followers” can be a bit of a misnomer. Some services are going to provide bots that will follow your account. These bots will be empty numbers. They very rarely will comment, like or retweet your content. An account with 10k followers but only three or four likes and retweets per post looks fraudulent. This not only looks suspicious to your actual organic followers, but it’s also almost a surefire way to be reported.
Some will automate “follow for follow” messages for your profile. While many of these types of services may end up providing you with real human followers, these are low engagement followers. Some may even be followers that are also using “follow for follow” services.
In that same Linqia report, companies rank Instagram as the most important social media platform when it comes to marketing. So for many fledgling influencers, purchasing followers on Instagram can look particularly lucrative.
Like Twitter, Instagram also has a litany of services that will provide bots and fake followers for your profile. Instagram is aggressive in taking down fake profiles, and so buying fake followers puts your account at major risk on the platform. Again, most of the followers you would buy on Instagram would be low engagement, which is even more detrimental on Instagram as likes are highly valued on the service.
Facebook already has a large volume of fake and duplicate accounts. Buying those followers tends to look even more obvious than it does on other platforms. But the largest issue is that Facebook heavily values engagement, fake accounts and bots will not give you that.
Buying followers may seem like a quick, cheap answer to the “How do I get followers?” question. And even though brands are willing to spend more money with influencers, nothing replaces true organic growth and engagement. In addition to putting your accounts at risk, being caught buying followers could do irreparable damage to you or your company’s reputation. Even though it takes time, slow and steady in this case does indeed win the race.