Have you ever been tempted to spend your social media marketing budget on buying fake follows or ‘likes’? We think you’d be better off investing in targeted social media advertising to grow your following. Here’s why:

Yes … numbers are important when it comes to your social media audience. If your business competitor has thousands of ‘likes’ compared to your couple of hundred, you’ll probably be judged inferior by the average visitor, even though you know your ‘likes’ are genuinely organic and your competitor’s have been bought. Big follower counts – even fake ones – are influential on the face of it. While the numbers may look good though, they are actually worthless in the great scheme of things.

The first thing to realise is that all those fake follows you have bought are not really people who are interested in your brand, product, service or business at all – they are sourced from fake accounts, click farms, bots or even compromised accounts infected with malware. You’re not likely to get much engagement or interaction from your bought followers, and you certainly won’t get any business out of them.

What you will get is skewed analytics on your social media accounts – in fact your analytics, swelled by the large vanity metric you have bought, will be worthless, and we all know how important analytics are for guiding social media management.

Besides being as good as disabling your analytics and insights, all those fake follows will impact on the algorithms (like Facebook’s Edgerank) used by social media platforms to measure your engagement, and thus determine the reach of your page – in other words, who sees your content in their feeds. If the algorithms discover you have a negligible engagement level, because most of your audience is not interested, your visibility on the platform will drop, and there’s the danger that even your small core of authentic followers won’t get to see your posts.

Having numerous fake followers also makes it very difficult if you decide to run some social media advertising. It becomes almost impossible to figure out who your real fans are, and thus how to target them accurately – you could end up wasting a great deal of money.

Social Media users are smart, and getting smarter. It’s quite likely that you could lose credibility if someone notices that one day you had 60 Facebook likes, and the following day it had swelled to 2,000, while only two people reacted to your most recent post. You don’t have to be a genius to work out that it is somewhat suspicious! The bought fans could end up losing you the support and interest of your real ones.

With all the current furore around fake news, the practice of buying fake follows may well be banned one of these days, as the different social media platforms bow to the ever-increasing demand for transparency. Buying fake fans is not illegal yet, but it is certainly frowned upon by the majority in the business, so it is probably a matter of time before pages featuring them are penalised.

Last but not least, if you discover (as you most likely will) that purchasing those followers was a bad idea and you want rid of them, it will be a long and confusing task to syphon through the long list and purge yourself of dead-wood followers.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

Everyone wants a bigger following, of course, and the way to do it is slowly but surely. Work hard to come up with a constant stream of popular content, and engage with your audience. Give like for like, follow for follow, and gradually your organic fan-base will grow. If you want to put a rocket under it the best way to speed things up is by making use of social media advertising, which is extremely effective and a far better use of your marketing budget than buying fake friends!

WANT TO INCREASE THE ORGANIC REACH AND FAN BASE OF YOUR BUSINESS SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS? TALK TO THE EXPERTS AT DENTONS DIGITAL.