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4 Reasons Not to Buy Followers (and 3 Things to Do Instead)

Every month, thousands of people across Canada search for keywords like “free Twitter followers” and “buy Facebook likes.” But when you google terms like “how to get Facebook likes” and “how to gain Twitter followers,” which suggest a little more work is involved, there are far fewer monthly search queries.

Why would people buy likes instead of doing the work it takes to cultivate followers? To answer that question, I went straight to the source: websites that sell fake social media followers. These sites assured me that buying followers would earn me a larger subscriber base, greater brand popularity, an increased number of visitors, and better interaction with my subscriber base.

All of those are great things to have. And with followers only costing about three or four cents apiece, that sounds like an amazing deal. But when you stop to think about it, there’s something wrong with this logic. Let’s backtrack and break it down.

You aren’t getting more subscribers.

You’d likely get an initial boost in numbers from your purchase. But social media platforms have a habit of regularly cleaning up fake or inactive accounts. If you’re buying followers, there’s an excellent chance you’ll see your numbers drop if Facebook and Twitter decide to do a wipe. And those platforms are aware they have fake accounts. In 2017, Facebook announced that roughly 12% of the platform’s profiles were fake.

Genuine engagement improves your algorithm ranking with real followers or potential followers, while disingenuous engagement from fake followers negatively affects your Instagram algorithm ranking. You may have even noticed that your Instagram story views have dropped significantly over the past few months. That’s because Instagram recently did a cleanse of fake accounts that were “watching” stories.

It’s possible that real people might head over to your page if they see that it’s popular, and they might like it if the page appeals to them. But let’s look at that big “if.” Out of all the people who actively use social media, only a small fraction of those live in your area and are interested in what you’re selling. And even if they’re your image of the perfect customer, they won’t stick around if your page doesn’t give them a good reason to.

Your brand isn’t becoming more popular.

The assumption here is that if people see a popular page, they’ll check it out and then tell others that they liked it. This would spread the word from person to person and turn your purchased popularity into real popularity.

But that depends entirely on the success of the last strategy. If your ideal target audience—again, an incredibly small number—doesn’t come to your social media page, your brand is only popular to a bunch of blank accounts.

Even if real people somehow find and visit your page, they may not Like it. And if they do Like or subscribe to it, you’ll still have to interest them enough for them to comment or share the page with their friends. That means you’re still going to have to put in the work to create quality content.

You aren’t going to get more web traffic.

These sites promised that buying likes would ensure a high number of visitors to my website. They also said that increasing my traffic would mean a better search engine ranking and a boost in ad revenue.

Having a high number of social media likes or followers actually doesn’t ensure that your website will get more visitors. They’re completely different platforms. Unless you’re promoting your website in every single post, you’re not going to see an increase in traffic coming from your social media accounts. And even then, it still doesn’t mean people are going to click.

It’s true that your position in Google rankings can be affected by the number of visitors you get. But that’s not the only metric that affects your ranking. In fact, there are hundreds of factors that influence where your site appears in a list of search engine results. So an increase in web traffic might not convert to a higher ranking like you want.

You aren’t interacting any better with subscribers.

The logic here is that you can improve the products and services you offer by growing your subscriber base. You can send out surveys, ask for suggestions, and otherwise improve the way you do business by interacting with a large number of followers.

That’s not going to work because very few of your purchased followers are reading your content. That could be either because they aren’t real or because it’s their job to follow customers’ pages and nothing more. They might have a shiny profile picture and post the odd status update, but they don’t care what you have to say and they won’t act on your message.

If the strategies above don’t work and you don’t get any new subscribers, the fake ones can’t help your business. Why? Because their so-called opinions carry no weight whatsoever. So when you ask your 50,000 followers to tell you what kinds of products they’d like to see, you’ll be lucky to get a handful of meaningful answers.

These websites base their business on an awful lot of “if”s. That’s already a condition of marketing: qualified followers might lead to follower engagement, which might lead to sales. An agency like ours has the expertise to put together a killer campaign, but there’s still no way to 100% guarantee you’ll get the high numbers you’re looking for.

That’s a sobering reality to face, which could be why so many people are buying likes rather than running the risk of failing. But when they buy followers, they’re sinking a large investment into a huge “maybe” that won’t pan out for them.

Create valuable content.

Instead of asking how to get more followers, ask yourself, “Why would someone want to follow me on social media? What’s in it for them?” People like content that provides actual value, whether it’s sales and discounts, information about new products, or educational posts that teach them something new.

People also follow brands because they’re interesting or entertaining. If you can’t offer special deals, try posting regular content that’s funny or smart instead. When followers like the content, they’ll like, comment, or share it. All of those actions push your content to their friends’ news feeds.

Social media expert Mari Smith promotes content strategy that focuses on value rather than promotion as an 80-20 rule of thumb. Roughly 80% of your content should be valuable to your audiences, and just 20% should be related to sales and promotion.

Try new content formats.

You might have more luck with your content if you attach interesting photos to it. Let’s say you’re a restaurant promoting your happy hour. It makes sense that you’d see a better response by including photos of your cocktails and appetizers instead of just talking about them, doesn’t it?

Brands and companies only tweet photos 8% of the time, even though tweets with photos generate 138% more replies and retweets than those without. Not only will your posts perform better, but they’ll also stand out from other posts that aren’t including imagery. A great visual recipe for your social media typically includes 70% video, 20% static images and 10% link posts.Illustrated statistic saying social media should include 70% video, 20% static images, and 10% link posts

Look outside of your account.

Social media is made for advertising. As a result, you get better reach on those platforms by running an ad campaign. They also have lookalike features so you can advertise directly to people with interests similar to those of your existing followers. Your social media handles should also be visible on all your collateral, whether that’s your website or any print pieces.

You can also try interacting with other business’s Facebook pages to build awareness of yours. It could be as simple as introducing yourself to other companies in your business park or complimenting big-name competitors on their work. It makes you look friendly and charitable, which is only ever a good thing for a business.

Social media fans do have value, but only if you’re reaching the right ones. Why waste resources on fake followers when you can cultivate a list of real people who are interested in your brand and willing to share your posts with friends? Managing your social media accounts is hard, time-consuming work, but it’s worth it for a core fan base made up of dedicated followers. That’s one of the ways your business can grow and thrive.

Need a hand developing your social media strategy? Give us a shout.


Maegan Crowley

As digital marketing director, Meg has a strong focus on online marketing and loves connecting people to the product or service they need.

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