If you’re growing frustrated with a client who only cares about followers and likes, you may be tempted to pay for fake followers. After all, even if you actively fight against bots and report them, there’s no way to remove every fake account that follows you. Why not take advantage of this inherent flaw for your advantage?
Actively courting fake followers may give you a hollow short-term gain, but it’s one that means nothing to those who know not to rely on an easily manipulated metric.
Theoretically, having tons of followers means that people are interested in your brand and having a massive following will make your following grow event bigger by giving your page more exposure.
In reality, that may have been the case at one point, but it hasn’t been the case for a long time. It’s been said a million times, but it’s worth repeating: organic reach is almost non-existent, especially for those who don’t already follow your brand. Additionally, the fact that followers can be bought isn’t a secret.
Consumers are getting savvier. While it may make sense for Wendy’s to have over 2.7 million Twitter followers and over 8.5 million likes on Facebook, it would be suspicious for a small mom-and-pop restaurant to get anywhere near those numbers under almost all circumstances.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t invest in fake followers.
1. Your followers are a reflection on your content quality.
Many social media users will go through your followers to see who you attract and make sure your account is legitimate. If you aren’t one to follow many accounts, this may be the starting point for your followers find other businesses and people who provide similar or complementary content to what you provide.
Those who are interested in your brand and go through your followers will become suspicious if you have too many accounts that look sketchy or are obviously bots set up for the sole purpose of sharing other people’s content.
While you may gamble on the fact that not many people care about your followers, word gets around on the internet and you will be watched.
2. Buying fake followers will get you banned.
Is temporary success worth the risk of permanent expulsion from your chosen social media platforms?
Purchasing fake followers is the digital media equivalent of an athlete taking steroids. You may get caught in hindsight, but when your shady practices catch up with you there will be significant blowback.
As of May 2018, Facebook had closed 583 million fake profiles. In July 2018, The Washington Post reported Twitter had suspended 70 million suspected fakes. It’s only a matter of time before the social media platforms more aggressively pursue those who have an unusually large number of fake followers.
Citing the fact that this practice is widespread or that “everyone else is doing it” will only make things worse. It didn’t work with your mother, it doesn’t work when someone breaks the law, and it won’t win you any fans.
3. Followers/Likes matter less than they used to.
We all love the validation that seeing a new follower gives, but the harsh reality is that a simple follow means nothing. Engagement is what we need to focus on. It’s more important to have 100 engaged followers than 500,000 that you purchased from a click farm.
4. It dilutes the accuracy of your analytics.
If you bought a million followers, but only 1,000 are legitimate and respond to your posts, you have an engagement rate of 0.1 percent. That’s significantly less impressive and shows the pointlessness in bragging about following size.
In contrast, a company that has 1,000 followers and has 200 engaged users has an engagement rate of 20 percent. While these numbers would be extremely low for an international or national brand, they are actually pretty good numbers for a local business.
5. It’s a waste of money.
You’re better of spending potential bot money elsewhere. Sure, there are websites that lure you with promises of thousands of followers for a small fee. However, are you willing to use a perfectly good 20 dollars for an imaginary temporary victory?
There’s no good reason to buy fake followers. You may get a dopamine rush from your increasing follower count, but fake followers are nothing more than buying an award to show off because you didn’t want to take the time or effort to earn it yourself. It may take a while for people to catch on, but once they find out you will lose all credibility and end up digging yourself out of a hole of your own making.
Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.