Written by: Khadija Craine
So you want to know how to organically grow followers without paying for them, without praying the latest social media post goes viral, or running a giveaway? There are tons of brands on Instagram that buy their followers and you’ve seen them before. You know, the pages with more than 20k followers and only 15 Instagram posts or the pages with 40k followers with minimal likes and comments under their posts.
It’s so easy for brands to buy followers, especially when starting a new social media page. There are several “deals” to purchase followers or likes for example $20 for facebook likes or $100 for 1k Instagram followers. There’s even offerings priced at a $1 for twitter followers. After buying 20k followers, you may find you feel a little empty on the inside. A little empty, because you now have a shell account that doesn’t actually mean your brand has garnered new attention. In reality you may realize, none of those followers mean anything if no one is buying your product, requesting your services or really engaging with your brand.
If you’re still not convinced that buying engagement is an empty promise to you and your consumer… here are a few of the many cons of buying followers:
1. Followers that have been purchased are not genuine customers or clients
There’s no telling if they even real people! The point of social media is not to have the most followers or comments, its to have high authentic engagement rates. It is to build a virtual community of support and new clientele. In an ideal world, your social media followers will be enticed to visit your website, browse around and purchase services or products. Fake followers fake out potential real customers to think your brand is more popular than it really is but does not mean you will get a real return on investment.
2. Fake accounts are associated with spam behaviors
Beware of fake accounts. Businesses that offer follower buying options can often times use accounts they’ve gained access to in order to spam other accounts. Most times this spamming behavior is seen via those pesky ads in the comment section. The spammy accounts that comment on a thread with “Want 1k more followers! DM me now!” when the post is about a fireman saving a baby from a burning building is the perfect example. An extreme example, but you get the idea.
3. Limited Engagement
Having fake followers can reduce the amount of engagement a social media profile receive, especially on Facebook and Instagram, who have recently adopted new algorithms. Facebook and Instagram decide who sees what and where a profile shows up in a news feed by the amount of engagement on a page. Having a low engagement rate pushes your posts to the bottom of the feed allowing a minimum amount of followers to see it. Even if you actively post in real time, people may end up seeing it with the same consistency as they see a post from 4 days ago; which means people may not really see the post. So now you’re in a situation where you’ve purchased 20k followers but still have low engagement and as a result these new algorithms will actively work against you.
4. Misleading Consumers
Buying followers is taking the easy way out, so to speak. If customers found out that followers were fake, they would be less inclined to buy from your brand again. It also says a lot about the trustworthiness of your business. If a brand is buying followers and engagement, your consumer will then naturally wonder what other short cuts your business is taking. As you can imagine, consumers aren’t going to come out in droves to support your business if they doubt the trustworthiness. Often times under accounts that are suspect, you see real consumers commenting “this account is fake! Do not buy from them!” “SPAM!” Don’t waste your money!” and it goes on and on and who really wants to be on the receiving end of that kind of consumer mistrust.
Building a following organically can be very rewarding. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Engage Engage Engage
Engage with the followers that are on your accounts. One follower recommendation could lead to several more. Like comments, acknowledge faithful and loyal customers. Answer EVERY question that requires an answer. Engage with your current followers and engage with potential followers.
2. Include social media handles on everything
Include your business’ name on everything from websites, receipts, business cards, and personal networks. Your content should stand out and it should be easily discerned that your business created it. Create and share content with your followers that will resonate with them; so much so they may want to share it themselves. If your content goes viral, you want the world to know that your business created the original content.
3. Post consistently and post thoughtful content
Followers enjoy seeing a consistent and somewhat organized social media account. Create a theme that gives followers a reason to come back to the page time and time again.
4. Hashtags Rule Everything on Instagram
Take advantage of hashtags. There are two different kinds of hashtags; branded and community. Both hashtags contribute to Instagram growth. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags and they recently introduced the follow hashtag feature. To be sure that every post reaps all the hashtag benefits create and use a branded hashtag and then ensure you use the most relevant hashtags as well.
We’ve laid out the pros and cons of fake and organic followers. Now you have to choose which makes the most sense for your business.