Social media pages are full of fake fans and fake profiles. They are everywhere, and the practice of buying them is relatively commonplace whichever social media platform you decide to consider.
Buying followers works in a variety of ways, but essentially a computer program which creates and runs a large number of email accounts will create profiles on a platform, and login to each of them to perform a particular task. This could be things like following your account, or putting a ‘like’ on a post. This service can be bought, flooding your account with a tonne of activity. People can do this to make themselves a social media celeb, being paid to post pics of free clothes, cars and makeup brands; the ultimate fake it ‘till you make it!
So maybe buying fake followers is going to help you in this way. You are going to have a higher follower count and look more popular. Therefore, you have a higher likelihood of attracting a potential viewer/follower on this basis alone. However, the content still has to be great to make them stay and you still need a way to attract them in the first place.
That’s pretty much where the ‘good’ news ends. Let’s consider some potential negatives.
It’s going to harm, and possibly destroy you in the long-term.
Social media platforms have algorithms that deliver relevant content, in front of relevant people. Your posts only go out to a small percentage of your followers in order to initially test for engagement. Let’s imagine now that those people that Instagram is ‘testing your content’ out on, are robots – then you’re in trouble. You’ve just decimated your chances of competing against ANYONE with a real audience, as your robots aren’t able to engage with you like a real person can. This low engagement metric tells Instagram, Twitter, Google or Facebook to suppress your post, and subsequently stop it from being shown to people, as it’s not as engaging as other posts in your space, with similar accounts. Your post, therefore, lands on robotic eyes and ears, and never reaches real people.
In short, even your real followers are no longer seeing your post. At best, this will damage the conversation you have with your fanbase. At the worst, it will stop it entirely.
You’re probably not too far away from getting caught out.
Here’s the thing: any fans of your accounts who take a little bit of time to nose around your followers are going to figure out pretty quickly that something isn’t adding up. We’ve all come across an account with millions of followers, and five likes on the most recent post. It just looks embarrassing, and shows an intent from that person’s account to try and manipulate you as a fan. We can all agree that is not a good vibe.
Hoping, for a moment, that your follower purchase is subtle enough that you think you’re getting away with it, there’s all sorts of apps that anyone can use to test someone’s follower authenticity. Take fakecheck.co or hypeauditor.com and five minutes later, you’re busted.
Let’s now imagine that no one uses these tools, no one smells a rat, and people are randomly finding your account and piling into your pages because you’re looking super popular, whilst also making reasonable content. You’re probably still going to be screwed, because these platforms are spending millions learning new and effective ways to remove bot profiles, in order to benefit the user experience and keep their companies alive and well. Chances are, you’re a ticking time-bomb away from having all of your bot followers removed. If you think you’re out-smarting a team of the best tech developers in the world working around the clock in this field, you have to at least consider you might be a step behind in trying to trick them.
Whether it’s tomorrow, or a year from now, you’ll probably have to face the music. At the very least, your follower count will embarrassingly disappear and create a huge tone of distrust among any real followers you had. At the worst, you’ll be kicked off the platform indefinitely, because buying followers is against the terms of service of every social media platform out there, not to mention streaming services, where this kind of practice can land you in more trouble than just being banned.
Content is key
Our main takeaway here, is that buying fake followers can work to some extent, in giving you social proofing, but the tech is catching up to the fakers. Sooner or later, the only thing that will win is real influence, on real people. Don’t forget that if your goal is to build a sustaining business and actually have a strategy that is conducive to long term growth and development, then this is not a move you should be making.
Make great content and the rest will follow.