It does not take much these days to spot a fake profile on social networks a mile away: Often the profile picture won’t fit the name, the posts and updates are pure spam or adverts, they have an abundance of people they follow but very few following them… As some base examples.
You’ll almost certainly have a few of these followers amongst the real profiles that have elected to follow you on Twitter and we’ve all had inboxes or posts with aggressive pestering to follow them back / adverts or links to buy a dodgy product or take you to shady content. They are pretty much unavoidable.
It’s easy to run a search query and find a lot of sites offering hundreds or thousands of followers for just a few dollars, potentially expanding your follower count to obscene levels. A few tens of pounds and you can be up there with minor celebs and noted characters. But it’s all false.
The strange fact is that many people with legitimate profiles elect to go out and buy followers like these. Hoping to boost numbers and appear to be more popular or reputable than they indeed are and artificially inflate their apparent online reputation; Which they are in fact harming.
Look At You Mr Popular!
Elevating your apparent social status is usually a sign of vanity or desperation though people do it every day. It’s big business that sells and there must be reasons for that, right? Probably. But there are also some great reasons not to buy fake followers:
Assuming that someone is vain enough to buy followers in the first place, one would imagine that other people’s perception of them is important. But LOOKING popular and BEING popular are two different things. An increase from a few hundred to several thousand followers overnight is a pretty clear indication of gaming the system and brings your integrity into question. Gaining followers by immoral means is going to reflect very badly on the person buying them, though to be fair it may create some engagement for them: Just not the positive kind!
Spamming Your Real Followers:
I’ve read reports that some of the pay-per-follower services will actually ask for access to your Twitter account. They then use your account as another spam bot, sending out a tonne of posts inviting your followers to buy followers of their own! You can see the problem… This is a fast track tho ruining your reputation and losing the few legit followers you have.
If swelling numbers and potential spam were not indications in their own right that you are gaming the system for followers then anyone who suspects you to be buying followers can easily use a selection of free software to confirm this. Fake Follower and Twitter Audit are two examples. While these are not 100% accurate they are a good indicator of whether the accounts are active and worthwhile so you can make a judgement call on how much engagement you’ll ever see from them.
Engagement Not Followers:
Online Marketing is a career where numbers and stats are VERY important. But in blatant plagiarism of George Orwell:
“All stats are equal but some stats are more equal than others.”
What I mean by this is that engagement is incredibly important whereas sheer numbers of followers are not. In the same way that we look at Adwords Management, we don’t want huge volumes of visitors when conversions are key, we essentially want quality, not quantity. Engagement in the case of social media is that quality: a chance to expose new people to your products, services, persona or business as opposed to having a faceless mass of followers who do not engage.
Sheer numbers mean nothing.
As we always say, there is no easy fix for fast tracks for online success. In time, you can be sure that Search Engines will be able to ascertain whether a social media account is fake or not and water down or negate any positive effect that being associated with that profile has. So be careful: Buying links, followers or trying to game the system to boost rankings is never going to end well. Put in the leg work and reap the long term rewards!