Fake Followers: What You Need to Know

3 Minutes

The Drum recently reported that “Advertisers have almost doubled the amount they’re spending on Instagram influencer campaigns in the US and Canada since 2018.” The article stated that in the past three months alone, $65m has been wasted reaching fake followers – with household names like P&G and Disneyland among the top spenders.

What are fake followers and why are they are a problem for your brand?

Fake Followers/Accounts

A fake follower is an account usually run by a bot. These accounts are prevalent on Twitter and Instagram.

Fake followers are available to buy from online vendors. These venders tend to run thousands of robot accounts, often set up for clients to make them look more successful.

Fake accounts can be set up to like and comments to make them seem more real, they have even been known to affect trends on Twitter.

How to spot fake accounts

A genuine account will generally have a similar follower to following ratio unless of course, they are a celebrity. Genuine accounts will have reasonable engagement, a fake account might have 5000 followers with maybe 1 like per post. 

A fake account may not have a profile picture, or the bio may be empty or generic. Some bot accounts post generic comments to make them appear genuine, posting things like “nice picture” or “well done” on multiple posts.

A genuine influencer or celebrity account will generally have more followers, and fewer accounts followed. The content will be consistent and of a higher quality.

Beyonce instagram

There are various websites that allow you to check

But more followers is better right?

Not necessarily. Ideally, you want followers that are engaged and interested in your brand. You want your followers to be people that will recommend you, share your content, and invest in your brand. So it doesn’t matter if you have 1 million followers, because if 900,000 are fakes, you’re not going to see any financial benefit from it.

It could be argued of course that having more followers makes your brand seem more established and that this may attract more followers because you are perceived to be trustworthy and popular. It’s going to be blatantly obvious to onlookers that you have paid for followers if you have millions of followers with only a couple of likes or comments on your posts. Ultimately, you’re going to end up looking unprofessional.

Paying for Growth

Buying followers is against terms of service and isn’t going to help you in the long run. You can, however, pay to sponsor your content and generate followers this way.

For example, if you own a shoe company and you have a new line coming out, you might want to promote this. You can set up a post on social media, pay to promote it and target people that have shown an interest in footwear. Not only does this generate awareness for your new shoe line, but it also generates brand awareness. They might not buy the shoes, but they might give your page a follow and become a customer further down the line.

This kind of marketing is going to serve you much better in the long run, it is more professional and a much better use of your marketing budget.

Final tips

  • Don’t pay for fake followers
  • Concentrate on your content
  • In the beginning, it’s okay to test out different content styles to see what works best for your brand
  • Know your audience
  • Buying followers violates terms of service, your account could be suspended
  • Small amounts of relevant followers are better than 1000’s of followers with no interest in your brand/products
  • Thoroughly research an influencer before signing any contracts

Reference article: https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/10/29/pg-and-disneyland-among-brands-reaching-most-fake-followers-instagram

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