There’s a certain joy that comes with each new follower — at least when you’re in the early stages of your account. The true excitement comes from knowing there’s a person on the other side of the screen who’s interested in you, and what you have to publish.
From high-quality content, to a consistent publishing plan, to following the ever-changing industry best practices — it takes a lot of effort to build up a loyal following. That is, if you want to do it organically.
Today, there are tons of services that boast their ability to drive thousands of followers for the cost of a cup of coffee. At such a low price point, this poses the question: Is it a good idea to buy social media followers?
To answer that, there’s a few other questions we must answer first.
What does it really mean to buy social media followers?
The joy of growing your follower count really comes from the potential they present. As a business, your social media followers represent prospective customers and community members. The point of growing your following is to increase the number of people you can reach with your social posts that establish your expertise and further your brand.
When you buy social media followers, you’re really just paying for a number — not real audience members. In fact, there’s little-to-no chance these accounts will ever interact with your posts, let alone make a purchase from you.
What are the benefits of buying followers?
Growing your follower count organically takes a lot of time and hard work. Purchasing followers provides a shortcut. This can be beneficial for influencers who are looking to artificially inflate their metrics to land brand partnerships. Purchasing a bunch of followers can make your account appear more authoritative and popular at first glance.
What are the drawbacks of buying followers?
As we explored above, when you buy followers, you’re just paying to increase the number on your profile. There aren’t real people behind the accounts that follow you. As a result, these profiles aren’t likely to interact with your content.
Purchasing followers can have a significant impact on your engagement ratio — how many likes and comments you get on your post as a percentage of your total followers. For each platform, there’s an expected rate of engagement. A low engagement ratio means your posts won’t be as distributed in the feed and your account will look suspicious to potential followers.
Seeing low engagement, or other signs of purchased followers, is not compelling for your audience. Often, it will turn them away and can severely damage your online reputation. Instead of increasing your authority, buying followers can often lower it. If you want to ensure your reputation doesn't tank, it's best to avoid this idea.
How can you tell if an account has purchased followers?
When you’re looking at engaging influencers or partnering with other brands, follower count is a big consideration. Afterall, you want to work with someone who has a large audience, full of real people. However, with how easy and affordable it is to purchase followers, you’ll want to take a closer look at each potential account, before moving forward with the partnership.
Looking at the engagement ratio is an easy way to start. If an account has thousands of followers, but only a handful engagements on each post (reactions or comments), they definitely have a bunch of fake followers. A good rule of thumb in the industry is a 1% engagement rate. Meaning, if an account has 20,000 followers, each post should see around 200 engagements.
Another way to tell if an account has purchased followers is by looking at the follower profiles themselves. Often, these bots will have random-sounding usernames, an empty profile, or clearly stolen images. It can take a little more time this way, but it’s a good idea to take a closer look at the community of any potential account you partner with.
Additionally, there are numerous pieces of software that brands can use to identify whether or not a profile has purchased followers. It’s as simple as entering the username and letting the software process the account’s followers.
How can you grow a following organically?
The traditional method for organically growing your following takes a bit longer and requires more effort, but it’s more than worth it in the long run. You’ll know that your community is full of relevant (real) people who are interested in the content you put out, and have the potential to buy from you.
These four strategies can help accelerate your growth and ensure you develop a quality following:
Create awesome content.
You need to give people a reason to follow you. Sure, giveaways can be effective, but they’re another short-term gimmick. Instead, take the time to develop high-quality content that your audience will actually want to read. In tandem with the strategies below, you’ll attract relevant followers to your account, strengthening your relationship and establishing authority at the same time.
Use relevant hashtags.
Using hashtags, you can reach tons of individuals interested in that topic. It’s kind of like being able to tap into an already established audience. The key is, using hashtags correctly. It’s a good idea to use a mix of high competition and low competition keywords, as well as to regularly experiment to see what drives the best results.
Engage with your community.
The point of social media is to get, well, social! Don’t just use it as a platform to shove your content in your audience’s face. Be sure to interact with them and their content as well. If people tag you in a post, or mention you in a comment, reply. The same goes for any comments left on your content.
Outside of great content, consistency is probably the biggest key to growing a following. Everytime you take a break from posting, you lose the momentum you’ve built up. Be sure to post regularly on each of the platforms you have a presence on, per that platform’s best practices.
But, buying followers sounds easier!
Yes, buying followers is easier and cheaper in the short term. It costs far less and shortens your timeline significantly. We still don’t recommend it.
Instead, look for other ways to automate your social media efforts, without sacrificing quality or authenticity. For example, a social media scheduling tool can make it easy to streamline your social posting efforts.
Missinglettr takes social media scheduling a step further by automating the content creation process. For each new blog you publish, we’ll automatically develop a brand new drip campaign — you just have to hit approve! Try it for free today.