If you were to ask me the number one mistake business owners make when trying to do their own social media, I might be tempted to say overselling their product or service. Social media is a networking tool, not a megaphone! Beyond that, there is one thing that is even worse: buying likes/followers. Here are my top four reasons why buying followers is a bad idea, and what business owners should do instead.
- When you buy followers, they are usually FAKE. When I go through the thousands of followers a new client has purchased before hiring me, they're often extremely obvious bots. That, or they're accounts like my client's: they've given a paid like/follow service access to their account, and therefore their account has liked/followed thousands of similar accounts. They may also be "click farmers" - real people who are paid to like/follow a client's accounts. For more on click-farming, check out this excellent video by Veritasium.
- Fake followers drive down post reach. Fake followers usually have absolutely no relevance to your business. Their only benefit is to drive up your overall follower counts. With social networks across the board implementing news feed algorithms, having thousands of fake followers who aren't engaging with your content often means that your post reach dwindles away to nothing.
- Fake followers max out follow caps. If you purchase thousands of likes or follows from a spam service, chances are your account will follow thousands of accounts to get there, and you will quickly reach your follow limit on Twitter and Instagram. That will prevent you from following other accounts that are actually relevant to your business.
- Buying fake followers can open you up to hackers and credit card fraud. As explained here, people who are willing to take your money to hook you up with fake followers may also be willing to sell your info to others. Stay safe! This aspect of the trade is especially troubling to me when I see my client's accounts followed real teens and even tweens who only posted a few times on Instagram and had clearly used the same follower purchasing company to drive up their numbers.
- Generate organic social media growth by following and engaging with legitimate accounts.
- Create extremely targeted ads through native ad platforms to attract legitimate fans/followers. Yes, you may still get a few fake followers this way, but the more specific you are (think demographics, regions, interest keywords, languages spoken, etc) the more likely you are to find real people.
- Instead of paying someone with questionable ethics to get a few hundred or a few thousand fake followers, hire a real social media manager to create both organic and paid social media growth.