Someone mentioned to me recently that they were so excited to have bought 5,000 Instagram followers… As a social media professional, I don’t know why this hasn’t even crossed my mind as “a thing” you can do on social... So I immediately started doing research on the topic. At first, I thought very negatively on this because each brand has a target audience where you want to create social content that relates to your main demographic. However, I did look into why buying followers can be good. See both sides below:
Here are my immediate concerns:
Through organic and paid ads, brands are using their social platforms to communicate and target their messaging. The goal should be to build an online community that relates to their brand! If you pay for a bunch of non-related followers...
Growing a fan base takes time and effort. Buying followers means that the brand didn’t earn these followers with strategy and correct messaging with how they post. If you have a new account, work with a professional on how to do this effectively through organic and paid social media strategy. Personal brands and business brands will need followers that relate to the posted content by industry and or demographic.
Most likely these random followers won't engage with your branded content. If you pay for followers, it’s all about the number and not about engagement. Engagement is so important, especially for organic social media success. If there was an application where you could pay for followers that’s really within your demographic it might be more for this approach. However, I didn't come across this in my research.
Keep in mind, people do check your followers to see if you are a valid brand or person (like me). Brand authenticity is so important, so why would you want to come off as spam or fake account.
On the flip side, brands must have a valid reason to want to buy followers, so I tried to understand these motives:
Perception of an established so that people do trust to buy your products or earn your vote.
Therefore positions and upcoming celebrities will buy followers with the appearance of popularity.
To activate certain functions on Instagram- needing10,000 followers for the swipe-up function. 10,000 fan is A LOT, and depending on type of industry and small business, this could take a long time. Having 10k followers is great for retail or anyone needed to increase site traffic or sell anything really.
Overall, I do understand the reasoning for becoming “insta famous” but authenticity should be the first priority for a brand. Buying followers could hurt your organic strategy and positive brand transparency.
After thinking both sides through, it was now time to test this. I purchased 2,500 followers with Buzzoid for only $29! As soon as I purchased my account following grew within two hours. Before I did this, I only have 170 followers that I 100% grew organically. Most of them in which are my friends and small local business within Baltimore, Maryland.
I’ll be honest, it was exciting to watch my fan base grow so quickly, until… I did an audit on the followers ...
Lots of fake accounts with a ton of followers but with 0-a few posts on their account.
Mostly international accounts and sadly female accounts posting sexy images only.
Non active followers with no profile picture or some posts.
Go a head and scan my followers now so you can see the lack of quality in my current fan base at @purposeonsocial below are some of the the new followers I paid for:
The followers above are not adding any value to my business. Especially if I am posting anything relating to Denver, marketing or booting a post to my followers. I haven’t had the time to clean my account up, which I 100% WILL DO, but wanted readers of this blog to check out the followers first.
Not all followers were junk. Some followers were photographers and travel influencer which I would like to have as my fan base for Purpose On Social. The worst part of testing this follower purchase will be cleaning my account. It’s important to me that my has valid and earned followers that I would want I connections and clients to see along with being able to target effectively. I am estimating it will take me a good two hours to filter my account and delete users I don’t want anymore.
However I am very happy I tested this out so I can speak to this method to our clients and anyone thinking about this.
Buying followers can also hurt Influencer Marketing:
If you are an influencer, please earn your followers based on your interests, location and the brands you want to represent. The main purpose for brands to work with influencers is because of the audience they’ve built by location and your personal brand. I'll expand on this for part two of this blog...
Jacob Landis-Eigsti, a Purpose On Social Collaborator and founder of Jacob LE Video Production stresses how buying followers can hurt your brand in this video here:
Please build your following with great visuals, partnerships and great engagement with your followers. Brand transparency is important whether you are a small or large influencer, large brand or local business. #nofakefollowersplease