You may have heard of sites that claim to get you 1,000 new Twitter followers for $5. Sites like Fiverr and other professional marketplaces are full of these cheap, too-good-to-be true offers. Don’t get me wrong- buying a service like this will get you a thousand new followers overnight, and in that sense, you might be delighted, but not all that glitters is gold, people, and buying social media followers is a bad idea for so many reasons.
Buying fake followers will up your numbers, but those accounts won’t generate any real activity or do anything at all except falsely inflate egos and maybe get your account banned. Here are 7 reasons not to do it.
Numbers aren’t everything.
Let’s start this off with a metaphor: imagine you had a thousand toasters. In theory, you could capitalize on having that many toasters by selling all of them, or starting a toaster rental company, or an industrial toast making plant. But if all those toasters don’t work? You’re out of luck, my friend, because now all you can make is a piece of weird, post-modern art or something. A thousand broken toasters are worse than useless, they’re actively a hindrance, because they’re empty and broken and pointless.
That’s what you’re doing when you buy followers; buying a thousand useless profiles that do nothing and generate no revenue. Having a lot of something that’s broken is worse than having one functional thing. After all, wouldn’t you rather have one functional toaster than a thousand broken ones?
They literally mean nothing. Literally.
The profiles that you get when you buy social media followers are empty burner accounts set up by people who then tell a computer program to follow your account. On the seller’s end, the whole process takes about two seconds to do once the accounts are made, and then the accounts sit useless and empty, following you but never engaging with your content. There are no humans behind the accounts. Boring! Useless! Worse than a thousand broken toasters!
You will lose integrity.
Buying followers isn’t just pointless, it’s also really shady. If you’re buying followers you’re just trying to convince people that you’re something you’re not: established or popular or dynamic, when in reality, you’re buying an inflated number just to lie to people. Popularity and followers will come, but only if you populate your social media feeds with useful and interesting content and engage with your (real, human, living) followers.
Your real & potential followers will find out.
The average social media user is wise to the paid-followers scheme. Every socially literate person knows what to expect from a Twitter or Facebook account with a lot of followers, so if your profile has a big number of them but no interaction between you and these thousands of “people,” they’re instantly going to know what’s up. Internet scorn is swift and brutal, and teenagers have no mercy for people who are trying to seem more popular than they are.
It’s not a question of if they’ll notice, it’s a question of when, and when it does happen you’ll look like a huge desperate tool. Tough love, I know, but I don’t want that life for you! Don’t set yourself up for embarrassment later down the line.
Engagement is more important than followers.
Too often, people get caught up in the numbers game on social media. They think it’s better to have a thousand broken toasters, because, well, other people will see all their toasters and they’ll be impressed and trust them, right? NOPE. What counts on social media isn’t sheer numbers, it’s the quality of engagement that you get from your followers.
Real people who are really following you (functional toasters, I like to call them) are going to connect with you directly and get to know your brand on a more personal level. Promoting calls to action and using effective content sharing will get you more actual profit and engagement than having a lot of empties following you. Engagement is what builds brand loyalty and trust, and trust is what increases sales. Plus,
That money is better invested elsewhere.
If you’ve earmarked some money to buy fake followers, consider using that cash somewhere else more productively. Hire a graphic designer to make you a custom Twitter and Facebook cover photo, or get a logo made that captures the vibe of your brand. You can find plenty of legitimate online services for this, and it doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, either. Invest that cash in something that will do more than just sit there, collecting dust. A good visual branding will build trust, which is the opposite of what fake followers do, by the way.
Or buy yourself a present! Just don’t be sleazy and try to buy your friends online.
Your accounts can be frozen, deleted, or banned
Finally, buying followers is against the rules of almost every social media platform out there, because social media companies know these fake accounts only clog up the system and don’t generate any real engagement. Buying followers can get you suspended or permanently deleted from sites, and it really does happen. You do the crime, you do the time, folks, so don’t buy social media followers. Don’t do it!
Readers, what do you notice first about accounts with fake followers? What do you think of the practice? Have you ever done it? Leave your thoughts below!
Andréa Jones is a social media strategist who works with lifestyle brands to build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions. She's also the founder of SavvySocialSchool.com – a membership community with everything you need to achieve visibility, growth, and engagement on social media.