The word “fake” has been thrown around a lot recently. If you quickly search Google for the latest news around the word “fake” then you’ll be flooded with articles ranging from fake news – which is ‘killing people’s minds’ according to Apple’s Tim Cook – to the steady rise of fake products which have been duping innocent consumers for longer than I can remember. It’s fair to say that “fake” is one of those words that no one wants to be associated with (no matter how many times they might pay a visit to their plastic surgeon). But as a keen fan of all things social media, I want to take a look at something which is becoming quite a craze in the world of social… fake followers.
So why would companies, top-level executives, and even well-established bloggers and vloggers buy followers? I can understand the rationale… Yes, having a lot of followers might make your channel look all important and influential. From a blogger’s perspective, they can just buy 10,000 followers to inflate their audience numbers and then charge a higher rate for brand collaborations/deals. But don’t forget that social media is about engagement. When you buy followers your average engagement percentages will decrease, and any insights into the location and behaviours of your audience will be skewed by random bots, which are just sitting there stagnant. By this point you might as well sit there and throw your tweets at a brick wall hoping that something might stick in order to get a retweet or a like. This is why you should be nurturing your current audience and engaging with influencers to help grow your audience organically. You may not see results straight away, but it gives your company a lot more credibility than just purchasing bots.
It’s important for companies to be aware of these risks when deciding which online influencers they want to work with. Now, I don’t mean to sound like I’m hating on online influencers. It is very easy to check if someone’s following is fake nowadays. There are dozens of tools which let you analyse someone’s profile and see a percentage of who is genuine and who is fake. Whilst these tools are useful, it’s important to take the results with a pinch of salt because an account that’s attributed as “fake” can just be inactive. Being aware of this is crucial to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck when dealing with online influencers.
A few simple things to be aware of include: checking how much engagement they get on their social posts, anything from retweets to replies to likes; ask if they have a press pack, this should provide insights into their audience base and stats around their monthly website visits plus social reach; and if their feeds are so good to be true then just monitor their social activity for a few weeks before you hit GO.
I guess I don’t have to summarise my feelings towards why fake followers are having a negative impact on the social media space… I’m sure you get the gist of what I’m saying. Next time you’re consider the idea of growing your audience just ask yourself if you would rather have a more engaged audience which loves your brand, or a larger audience which doesn’t engage or react to anything you share on your feeds?