Back in January of 2018, Twitter faced a major scandal as the New York Times released an article revealing the magnitude of the fake follower problem on social media.
The article revealed that nearly 60 million automated accounts are on Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform. And as many as 48 million fake accounts are thought to be present and active on Twitter.
Social media is a highly influential channel. How many people do you know who only get their news from Facebook?
These fake followers not only boost the follower count of those that buy them, the “best” ones also engage with posts: liking them, sharing them, and providing them views.
The Plot Thickens
Just three days after the New York Times released the first story about fake followers, they released another, saying that nearly 1 million of Twitter fake followers vanished from the network.
One of the companies responsible for the buying and selling of these fake accounts, Devumi, and others like them are being targeted for these shady marketing tactics.
Those who bought fake followers said that the purchase was a smart business choice, helping boost the sway of companies and individuals that purchased them.
That being said, why should you be weary of companies that either directly sell you fake followers or promise rapid social growth in an impossible time frame?
Fake Followers Don’t Buy Anything
Followers are ideally either people who are fans of you and the content you put out.
They will interact with your content, and hopefully, eventually purchase the product you offer.
Fake followers might engage with your content, but they will not buy anything.
Fake Followers Give Your Brand a Bad Name
Fake followers are engagement for hire, so you never know what they will be pushing alongside your brand’s content.
In the NY Times article, one fake account, modeled after a 17-year-old’s Twitter profile, was tweeting pornographic material alongside tweets in other languages.
Imagine how your content would look alongside that stuff. You never know who else bought the same followers as you.
The real people who might be interested in your offering will see your tweets in the same feed as these other off topic tweets and judge your brand accordingly. Don’t risk your brand’s reputation like that.
Instead of buying fake followers, here’s a simple tactic boost organic engagement.
Use the Follow/Unfollow Method
To build your social media following organically, you should use the follow/unfollow method on top of consistently releasing quality content.
This works very well on both Twitter and Instagram. First, find a relevant account for your brand.
If you are marketing locally, look at accounts that cover your state or city. Go to their profiles, and click on “followers.”
Now, you can start to follow people here, but sometimes, I like to get a level deeper. I like to find someone in that follower list, who is a relevant fit for what I’m marketing in and has a reasonably low number of followers, then look into that account’s followers. Then I start to follow their followers. About 20 to 30 a day.
The reason is, if someone has less than 1000 followers or so on social media, then a lot of those followers are real people.
Look for people that look real. Some characteristics of real people on these accounts are:
- They include their location in their description or bio
- They have a reasonable amount of followers for who they are and what they do
- They have an actual profile picture
- They post in one (or maybe two languages) tops
Now, you will need an app that allows you to unfollow all the accounts that don’t follow you back. Give them a few days to either follow you back or not.
For Twitter, a popular tool is ManageFlitter, which allows you to earn up to 50 free unfollows a day.
For Instagram, I use an app called Follow Cop. You can unfollow as many people as you want on this app, but try to limit yourself to around 60 unfollows an hour. If you try to follow/unfollow too many accounts at once, Instagram will lock your account.
Building an organic following is slow, but powerful. It may be more difficult to do, but the quality of your followers will be better quality, meaning more actual leads, and less bloated social media metrics from fake followers. Skip the fake followers and increase your brand influence using organic marketing techniques.