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The Social Media Followers Scandal: Is Your Account Popular the Right Way?

Small and medium-sized businesses almost always use social media to promote their products or services. This is because creating social media accounts is inexpensive. But the problem arises when there are little or no followers. Many businesses start social media marketing from scratch with zero followers and slowly build up to 500, a 1,000 then 10,000 followers. Unfortunately, amassing followers, building a community of loyal customers and boost your presence is no easy feat.

Which is why many business owners are often tempted to do something they never would’ve previously thought of: Buying followers.

Yes, there are companies out there that sell followers, give ample likes to your posts and retweet your tweets in exchange for some cold, hard cash. The temptation to buy from them is very strong when you realize how much hard work and effort goes into garnering followers, clicking high resolution pictures for posts and promoting content assiduously.

Illustration by studiostoks via Bigstock

But there’s a real danger to buying followers.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Followers

  1. No real engagement

One of the main reasons buying followers isn’t a good idea is because you won’t really have people you can engage. Remember that engaging with followers is an essential step in any social media marketing plan. Rather, you should aim to build a community of people who are genuinely interested in the kind of products or services your business sells or those who actually like what our brand stands for.

Furthermore, buying followers won’t bring about any sales. And the goal of all marketing efforts is to generate leads and increase sales.

  1. Spamming followers

Most companies that sell followers will ask you for your account’s password. Now giving your password away to a third party is a sure shot way to spam your existing followers. Do you want to lost the genuine followers that you already have for a bunch of fake ones? I think not!

  1. Your business’ reputation will be at stake

Most of your customers will view buying followers as an immoral thing to do. Your business’ reputation and integrity will be at stake. Moreover, your customers will get suspicious if you suddenly get 30,000 followers from a measly 300. Is buying followers really worth putting your organization’s reputation at stake?

  1. What if you get caught?

Buying followers may be a legal gray area when it comes to the law and social media marketing but journalists and law enforcers do conduct investigations on companies that do it. For example, The New York Times recently cracked down on a company called Devumi that was using fake accounts and bots to change political debates, promote products and services and make influencers appear more popular than they actually are. The investigation unearthed athletes, celebrities, actors, actresses, politicians and businesses that were buying followers.

What if your business is named in future investigations of fake accounts and bogus companies selling likes, retweets and mentions? What if there are some legal consequences to these actions? What if a social media platform bans your business?

How to Actually Get More Social Media Followers

Okay, so how can you actually increase followers, become more popular and engage your followers in a productive way? Well, the truth is that any social media marketing effort requires commitment, determination, consistency and, most importantly, patience.

  • Use influencers to promote your product or brand. Identify people who have similar values and target audience as your business, reach out to them and find a way to partner with them.
  • Publish original and useful content instead of fluff. You should also share your followers’ user-generated content.
  • Engage with followers by promptly responding to complaints, talking to them and liking their comments
  • A great social media marketing tactic is to hold contests, giveaways and offer discounts. But make sure that the minimum entry requirement for these involves following you.
  • Hubspot suggests using Facebook and Instagram live and publishing stories frequently.
  • Don’t just promote your product all the time. Rather than being purely promotional, share stories of your brand and your employees from time to time.
  • Hashtags are important in Instagram but it’s not just important to use lots of hashtags. It’s equally important to use the right ones.
  • Be selective about which social media platforms you want to promote your business in. A good social media marketing practice is to select platforms that are most popular with your target audience and consistently post on it. It’s better to be active and engaging followers on a few social media networks than intermittently posting on all networks.
  • Post quality content that evoke emotions, tell a story and engage followers. Posting frequently is good but posting high quality content consistently is better.
  • Ensure that all relevant social media buttons are present in every blog post, article, e-newsletter and email you release into the online sphere.
  • Guest blog on sites that are in your niche and make sure that you link your social media accounts within or immediately after the post on the page.
  • Offer incentives to customers who walk into your store and like your Facebook page, follow you on Instagram or add your business as a friend on Snapchat.
  • Consider partnering with a business that sells products or services that complement your business’ products or services. You can leverage each other’s followers to reach a wider audience.
  • Provide unique information or insights to your followers and friends. Everybody loves reading and sharing facts, tips and tricks.
  • Forbes recommends liking and commenting on your followers’ photos and videos.
  • Find out which time of the day is the most suitable to post content on your business’ social media accounts. It’s the time of the day where you can get maximum likes, comments and followers. This can be achieved by trial and error. However, generally, posting content on Sundays gives maximum visibility. According to Hubspot, some businesses have found posting at 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. very fruitful.
  • Share positive messages only. Positive posts are more likely to be read and shared by people.
  • Lastly, don’t just focus on getting more followers but rather keeping the ones you already have.

The truth is that social media marketing is more than just garnering followers. It’s about building a community, conversing with your loyal customers and putting a human face behind all your marketing efforts. Don’t worry about followers or stress about how your competitors have more likes than you. Focus on providing value to your customers and your audience will increase.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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