It is sad but true: In any given time and any given industry, there were always people who try to fool other people, not playing with the rules and faking numbers, KPIs, and metrics.
It is no surprise that digital marketing is suffering from that and, specifically, social media. Especially that more and more big dollars are engaged.
Why fake followers, and what are they?
Imagine your social media accounts or your brand social media accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers…Imagine your personal Facebook page with hundreds of fans liking this page only because your name is on it and because they don’t want to miss anything, you will say! Super tempting, right? Nothing is as attractive as fake followers. But to get there, you need tons of work, creativity, energy, and… some people won’t go through all that and prefer the shortcuts.
Today there is nothing easier than buying fake followers for any social network. Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, all you need to do is to google“ Buy social media followers,” and hundreds of websites will pop-up offering not only fake followers but also false video views, fake engagement. Most of them starting as low as 2 USD! You can even buy targeted followers with specific demographics, geographic location, and particular centers of interest too! Some of these companies offer Follower Retention Policy and 1 Year Retention Guarantee! Companies that sell fake followers are becoming more and more sophisticated and are regularly hiring people to update these accounts, so they look just like a real account.
These fake followers are nothing more than empty shells and shadows. They are fake accounts that have been created with the only purpose of selling their ability to follow someone else’s account. Unfortunately, some brands, influencers, and public figures fall into that practice.
The easiest way you can guess if there are fake followers in a brand or influencer account is the average number of engagements an influencer or brand gets per post, divided by the number of followers. If you end up with a very low engagement rate (less than 1%), then fake followers are likely among the audience!
You need to answer this question: Where is the engagement coming from? Is it from the actual followers or followers outside the account? If it is the latter, then it is very likely that engagement is just bought from the outside!
If a brand or influencer is more local, posts in a specific language and the followers are mostly from another foreign country (sometimes not event speaking the posting language), you know what it means!
One of the several ways to guess if fake followers are involved is to look at the followers’ growth curve. For Facebook pages and accounts that have natural organic growth, the growth curve tends to be a consistent line of follower growth. Accounts that have purchased followers, you can see the growth jump o crazy numbers overnight in a very unexpected way.
Do they help your business?
Buying fake followers, engagement, or views not only it does not help your business, but it also harms it, and this is how:
Fake engagement or following is even more of a problem than the solution. If you go for it and you discover later on that this was not a smart decision, it will be very hard and costly for you to delete the fake accounts one by one; some companies decided to delete their former account after buying flowers and engagement. Nothing is real anymore, no room to grow, learn, or know your audience since everything turned to fake!