Whether you’ve just set up socials for your small business or you’re plateauing and looking to elevate your online visibility, increase interaction and attract new customers, buying social media followers and/or engagement is a big no-no that will often do more harm than good. Here are just 7 reasons why it’s a bad idea:
1) It’s a false economy
I know that it can be so tempting when you’re just launching a new venture or you’ve seen your follower count stagnate – or even worse dwindling but fake engagement and followers are just that – FAKE. On the surface, your account may look like it has a large following and yes you may be getting more comments on your posts but they won’t be from real people that will meaningfully engage with your offering or bring you a real return on investment. Artificially boosting your following or paying for engagement will mess up your sales funnel and reporting metrics which will ultimately create unnecessary extra work for you as you try to determine the real prospective leads the inevitable wave of spam engagement you’ll receive. Why make life harder for yourself?
2) Social media is about community
Many new businesses create social media accounts as part and parcel of their launch without truly understanding how the platforms work and how to harness the power of social in order to boost sales. With social media, it’s not a case of ‘build it and they will come’ – it should be used as a tool for creating community around your brand. Think about it – how many brands do you personally follow on socials and why do you do it? Because you respect the brand, their offerings and the content they put out. The content you post as a small business or brand is no different – the aim is to engage and retain your target audience. If you’re not getting the kickback you want in terms of following and engagement, start by looking at your content and how it’s targeted:
- Is it something your target audience would feel compelled to interact with?
- Does it offer any added value?
- Would it convince someone to follow your account in order to see more of the same content?
Businesses new to social media often think that it’s just a place to post product imagery and links to online stores when in actuality it is so much more than that. People want to see some personality, read reviews and identify with your values – before social media became so pervasive this is how businesses built up brand loyalty and it still applies in today’s digital world.
3) It’s phony and everyone knows it
It’s glaringly obvious when someone has bought social media engagement. Posts are inundated with spammy comments that often aren’t even relevant to the post’s subject matter. Spam comments are worse than real comments – not just for how they look outwardly but also for the unnecessary time you have to take out of your day-to-day schedule to elevate and delete them. Time that could have been better spent interacting with your real customers.
A lot of the reason that people end up buying followers and engagement in the first place is to create the facade of having a successful business especially when it comes to trying to impress other brands they may want to partner or collaborate with. If you’re looking to set up beneficial brand partnerships they’ll want to know that you have an organic and engaged audience – buying followers and engagement negates that – and serious brands will always check!
4) Your accounts could be suspended or penalised by the algorithm
Many social platforms regularly purge fake accounts, so those new followers you’ve purchased could disappear at any moment along with any so-called engagement they brought with them. You could also find your social media accounts suspended or penalised by the algorithm meaning you either lose any engaged followers you did have or affect your future reach greatly. Is it really worth it?
5) Building authentic relationships is far better
Brand loyalty is what gives businesses longevity and there is no substitute for building real relationships with people who will authentically engage with your brand and actually buy from you. There are no shortcuts to this – putting in the work with proper organic and paid social media strategies will reward your business and create more opportunities for you in the long run.
6) Your metrics will mean nothing
If you’re regularly checking up on your social media insights and producing reports to track your progress and ROI, buying followers and engagement will render it all useless. Quality always trumps quantity – there is no use in celebrating increased comments for instance if none of them are actually relevant to your brand and offer nothing you can sentimentally analyse. Social media analysis is so useful for gauging how your target audience interacts with your business and what influences purchasing decisions. It allows you as a business owner to make informed decisions about how you market your services, speak to your customer base, what KPIs you set for yourself and so much more. Don’t ruin it by skewing your statistics!
7) You don’t need 10,000 followers to be a successful business
There’s a common though misinformed belief that if you don’t have 10,000 followers on Instagram, you can’t be a successful business. This simply isn’t true – 300 engaged users who actually take the time to comment on your posts, click through to your links and purchase your products and services is far better than 1000+ bots that don’t meaningfully engage with your brand and comment absolute nonsense on your posts.
The most successful social media accounts I’ve seen actively encourage new followers by appealing to their target audience, utilising the power of different content formats i.e. TikToks, reels, and polls to showcase their brand’s personality in a language their audience understands. Their content allows them to build community because their audience wants more of that good thing – and that is what will help your brand grow online!
I hope this blog has been helpful in making the case for why you shouldn’t buy social media followers and engagement for your social pages. The visibility and success you seek are all in your strategy – what you post, how you post it and why you post it!