Why you shouldn’t buy followers.

Do you ever notice how some people on youtube can have millions of subscribers and only get 10,000 – 20,000 views per video, while others have millions of subscribers on youtube and they amass 500,000+ views per video?

Do you ever see someone with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of WordPress followers post something to their blog only to get three or four likes… and rarely ever have someone comment on their page at all? You may not be able to see their analytics, but you can see the responsiveness to their blog and it makes you wonder… why no one cares what they’re posting if they have so many followers.

If you do notice this, do you ever wonder why this is?

I have a theory. A theory that I cannot prove, but a theory that I am certain is what’s happening.

About three months into my blogging journey was when I amassed my first 1,000 followers (which was a huge day for me!) on WordPress. About that time was also the point in time when I began getting inundated with messages from people who promised me things like: 5,000 organic, responsive followers for just one single payment of the low, low price of $49.99!

$49.99… that sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it?

Actually, one offer that I got for just $200 was for followers on my WordPress page, Twitter account and Instagram account! Good little leeches saw all of these accounts connected and got creative!

These messages come in through my ‘Contact’ page on WordPress and through DM on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve never paid a whole ton of attention to Twitter, so being bombarded with these messages there was… interesting. I guess if you meet their criteria, they really do want to sell you their ‘product’.

In case you’ve yet to figure out, their product is not ‘organic, responsive followers’. These followers are bot accounts, made in masses, created to be sold to people wanting to get ‘InstaFamous’ quick.

How do I know this? Because I’ve purchased followers for Corporate accounts before.

About three years ago I was put in charge of Digital Marketing/Online Engagement for an international event that was happening in Ottawa. This event, while very familiar to people in certain parts of the world, has failed to garner the international attention it desires for being an international event.

My boss wanted a larger following on the social media platforms – specifically twitter and instagram, so that he could promote these mass groupings of followers to potential sponsors to gain more sponsorship money for the event. How do you get a larger following on social media on Friday when your boss’ first sponsorship proposal is being pitched on Monday morning? You buy them of course.

I didn’t like the idea at the time. I didn’t feel right about the idea at the time. We really didn’t know where the money was going, or to whom it was going to, we just gave over the corporate credit card for the promise of 50,000 new followers.

It’s worth noting that when you buy followers, you’re buying the number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed, or even likely.

We went from 6,000 followers on Friday at 4:00 pm to 56,000 followers on Saturday at 4:00 pm.

My boss was happy. He got what he wanted. He could make his pitch on Monday proclaiming that we had a massive following of people to which we could influence through social media to buy their products, and for that reason, they should sponsor our event.

And he did that.

He sold the crap out of our social media following and brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue as sponsorship for our event.

The problem was, we could not actually provide any return on investment. To the outside eyes, we had 56,000 followers. In reality, we had 6,000 followers. 6,000 concentrated followers from one area of the world.

It’s also worth noting that when you purchase followers it distorts your performance metrics.

My boss went to these International Corporations selling ROI for a following of 50,000 plus when in reality our following was 6,000.

He got the sponsorship revenue that he wanted, but in return, we could not provide these companies any ROI. Actually, in the end, he wound up having us ‘fudge’ the analytics to make it look like we had larger responsiveness than we did. This caused a rift in the relationship with these sponsors because he essentially blamed lack of investment in this companies on these companies. Let’s just say… they weren’t interested in sponsoring more events after that.

The purpose of this story? Don’t always believe everything that you see online. My theory is that a lot of these major Youtubers that people might be watching, they bought a lot of their followers. If someone has 1.2 million Youtube subscribers and are making an average of 10-15 thousand views per video, something’s not right. If someone has 10,000 WordPress followers and garners 5-10 likes per post, something’s not right. You may not be able to prove they bought their followers, but you can think twice before you accept any recommendations for products or advice they’re giving you.


REASONS TO NOT PURCHASE FOLLOWERS:

  1. It’s dishonest. Whether your accounts are for business or personal, shouldn’t your main goal to be honest with the people you’re interacting with?
  2. You’re not purchasing organic, responsive followers for your page, you’re purchasing bot accounts to make it look as though you have a lot of followers when in reality. If you think your content is good, these bots aren’t going to care.
  3. Purchased followers distort your performance metrics. If you have have 100 followers and a 60% read rate, your performance metrics are what I used to call ‘Bomb.com’ in the marketing realm. If you purchase 1,000 followers, your performance metrics are still 60 followers of 100, but your metrics look like you get 60 of 1,000.
  4. Instagram and Twitter have people on staff to purge fake accounts. This purging of bots has gotten even more strict after the last Presidential Election in the United States.
  5. If you have a desire to give ROI with respect to your social media platforms, you’re essentially lying to any companies you’re doing business with. You’ll be lying to get their business and you’ll need to lie to them (and ‘fudge’ the analytics) once you fail to meet the designated ROI.
  6. If your goal is to influence, you’re not going to be able to influence bots.
  7. Bought followers can often bring spam with them.
  8. What you lack in credibility after purchasing followers, you’re going to have to lie to cover up, or let people see the truth… you lack credibility.

I wholeheartedly believe that purchasing followers is wrong. I wish that brands would pay more attention to the people and companies they’re doing work with. I want them to look beyond the number of followers that someone has to ask for real time analytics and proof of engagement.

I won’t name any names, but I can think of at least a dozen people off the top of my head I feel like would struggle to show real time metrics/analytics to any of the companies they do business with. That being said, there seem to be a lot of companies in this world who see that follower count and don’t look beyond followers. I guess you could say that’s the company’s fault, and yes it partially is. But then you get into the ‘fool me once…’ cliche.

If you’re really wanting to be organic, open, honest and real with the genuine people who do choose to follow you on social media, buying extra followers isn’t going to do you any favours.

61 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t buy followers.

  1. Larger corporations and entities are slow to understand the shift into social media marketing. It is in fact a tremendously under-priced proposition but we are passed the phase of simply ‘doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll win’.

    People who understand the back-end of metrics and these social media platforms will have a greater advantage in distinguishing themselves by pointing out the nuances you are mentioning in this post.

    However, there is still a massive state of manipulation that can occur to ‘manufacture’ hype or ‘fake it till you make it’ that unfortunately DOES work….this will end soon too….

    But not today.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re absolutely right, there is a massive amount of manipulation still going on and there are a lot of people ‘faking it to make it’ out there. I really hope that it does end soon. It seems like for every regulation put in place to stop the manipulation, people find a loop hole and they use that loop hole to get ahead.

      Like

  2. Great article V, It’s absolutely a thing. I know a guy who knows a guy…. no seriously I have someone in my life with a decent sized you tube channel (its about 230K subs) and thousands of the subs are bots. Another informative post from you, thanks ! (no Im not a bot ! )

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s sad to see so many profiles online with bots behind them. And to see these people making recommendations or trying to sell things to honest people – I don’t think it’s fair. I wish I could see their analytics. Especially that guy you know – I wonder what his analytics would look like… lol

      Like

    1. To the people who do purchase followers, the purchase of followers definitely won’t give them the gratification they’re looking for… nor will it fix their deeper issues that I totally agree with you they have.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! When I had a YouTube account at 18 I paid like 5 dollars and received a couple hundred views. These views were bots of course. Totally not worth it. Did you know people actually have a software that switches words around in articles so they can post other people’s articles without copywrite infringement. It’s a joke, I have some people who follow me who employ this method. I found out because they posted 10 articles an hour and on their website they were promoting the software. I researched it and was shocked, these people literally run multiple websites and copy and paste articles. Just like anything in life there’s no cheat code; these fake views and articles will never pay off.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve heard of that software before. Thankfully, I’ve not tried it. But I definitely disagree with it on it’s face.

      Curious… what did you post on your youtube account?

      Like

  4. This is very interesting and I agree. I’ve seen this and wondered what was going on. I’ve actually felt defeated before because I felt like my content just wasn’t going anywhere. Here’s this page that I feel cut corners with 10,000 followers and here is mine that I can’t figure out how to even reach a few hundred truly interested people. It’s a great reminder to stay focused on the right thing. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kyle,

      Those with genuine, legitimate, organic and responsive followers are the one’s who’ve mastered the game of digital marketing. I say game because it’s a fickle business. If you ever want some tips for your site, send me an email. I’d be happy to send some small suggestions your way. You might have heard of them already, you might not. Either way, it’s all about playing the digital marketing game.

      And as for those with 10,000 bot followers, they’re never gong to get satisfaction from their platforms. 10,000 bots won’t do much for anything…

      Keep on keeping on. You’ll get there!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I know someone who probably bought followers for her IG account. She barely has any engagement on there. A couple years ago, she had 20K followers and now she had 16K. Doesn’t sound too bad except they were probably all bots. Even bots are not guaranteed to remain loyal followers. This girl is so into herself that she tried writing a Wikipedia page devoted to herself. Twice. She claims to have earned a bunch of awards, started large corporations etc. because she’s so desperate for attention. I’m honestly not surprised if she did buy followers and probably still does. My mom and her mom don’t talk anymore after having a big fallout.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She probably bought those followers and then when Instagram started realizing they were bots Instagram deleted the accounts and that’s how she lost so many followers. lol

      Like

  6. Unfortunately, it’s all about the numbers game these days. It really just comes down to laziness, as some believe that they can get “quickly famous” via money. No, it takes effort: quality posts, follow engagement, and time. It took me over three years to amass 1000 follows on my blog, but I know many of them are actual bloggers who enjoy reading my content, as much as I enjoy reading theirs. Blogging should be about enjoying the art of writing, not as a way to get rich through monetizing content (although it can be a by-product of it).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely!! Monetization can be a by-product but it should not be in the main focus. Companies need to start looking at more than just the follower count and be smarter about who and what they invest their money in.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Buying followers is just about as bad as follow-backs in my opinion. You know ’em? Those people who follow 10,000 people, and 3,000-5,000 of them follow back.

    If you stop, and look for a sec you can see that people who only have follow-back followers rarely ever even get 1, or 2 likes on twitter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, I’ve seen a lot of those on twitter and I’ve also seen a lot of them on WordPress, too!

      It’s a backwards way of doing things, because if you’re only following someone for them to follow you back, they’re never going to pay attention to what you’re sharing so you’re basically just wasting your time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! What’s even worse is the spammers, here in WordPress. They go around following hundreds of people every day, with the Hope’s that some of them will follow them back. It just seems petty.

        Like

      2. Or people who go to every single blog and just write “Yes!” or “Great Post!” without actually reading them.

        This has veered so off topic. but it’s important to be said. A friend of mine that runs a WordPress blog made a post about the loss of her mother and how tragic and heartbreaking it was for her family and someone came along and commented “Great Post!” I was like… seriously… how insensitive can you be in hopes of getting followers?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I know, they just copy and paste the same message into post, after post without even reading the title half the time. Then theirs those who just go down a list liking every post they see. There were these 3 guys spam liking every post I made, so I called them out on it in a post titled “Beware of these spammers” or something like that.

        Each one of the 3 guys liked that post.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. So many scams out there.

    I spent a lot of money on facebook ads years ago. I’m convinced most of my followers were fake accounts. Facebook was accused of this too. I finally deleted my artist page in a huff over it. I see follower give aways all the time. I miss the days where our posts would actually reach people who were genuinely interested in them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Facebook ads are a totally different beast, too! Especially with all o the data selling they’ve been accused of.

      It’s definitely still possible to reach an organic following, it’s just something you need to be really strategic with… and take the time for. Ya know what I mean?

      Like

    1. haha yeah, I get a lot of those date messages too. I know it’s spam, but I still is it as weird because I’ve never actually announced what gender I am on Instagram or Twitter. So that in itself I think shows the legitimacy of them. haha!

      Like

  9. This was very helpful in understanding what is REALLY happening in this wild world of social media. As an author, we must build “platform” but if the numbers are not really readers, what difference does it make? Thanks again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As an author, real and responsive readers and an audience that interacts with you will make ALL the difference in the world! Wishing you plenty of success with your online growth, the right way!

      Like

  10. I like when bots follow me on the social medias. I just, shake my head. Block them, and keep going. I don’t have much of an audience but, neither did Van Gogh. Charles Dickens made nine whole dollars on Great Expectations. Putting the effort to a dollar amount almost feels cheap because, it is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And you can tell right away when it’s a bot account, right? Like… it’s so obvious.
      I used to get really weirded out by it. Now, I’m like you, I just block them and move on.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this. To be honest, I kept reading that you were talking about organic FLOWERS, for most of the article but at some point caught on. Lol the tricks our eyes/brain makes. I was also just at PCC and have organic on the brain. Thanks for flushing out all of this crap that we as bloggers can get trapped in. Let’s get engaged and not just follow. Love love love. Alyssa

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Even I’ve seen my friends doing the same. With a following of 11.5k and more than a thousand posts, max 7 likes or 40 views. I get messages to increase the followers and get a 20% discount coupon blah blah. But because I’m not a tell all on social media kinda person myself, I just try and keep myself updated with how these apps have changed our everyday life. Take the good, leave the rest. Don’t contaminate. Be real. Simple.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m relatively “old” but my former audited Twitter account trended in Cape Town, ahead of the youthful social media influencers. And wayyy ahead of a colleague who bought 750,000 “followers” at a time. An audit of his account revealed a plethora of bots.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I have few followers, but love the interactions with those I do. Each one has honored me and most not to just be a number. I try not to subscribe to blogs that I don’t really want to read either …but love the ones I do subscribe to. I love learning their voice and seeing how they think.

    I’m with you…..I find no pride in artificial numbers. But it is nice when people read what I write!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Yes, definitely. I agree with you there. I follow back if I like what someone has to share.

        I also think that some people just automatically expect that you’ll follow them back. And honestly, though, that’s not reality. What if someone writes about something you’re just not interested in? Should they be forced to follow you? There’s so many… shades of grey in the online world. It’s not black or white.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a unique and humbling feeling wen someone wants to read what you have to share. I wouldn’t trade that for a mass follower count any day. It’s not worth it. I’d rather have people reading what I write than have a large amount of followers.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for this. I’ve had my blog up and running since April and am still working towards 100 followers.🤞At least when I do get there, I’ll know it wasn’t because I pulled shady shit like that.

    Liked by 1 person

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