For influencers and bloggers, numbers matter. They matter A LOT! If a company sees an account with lots of followers, but very low engagement, they are probably going to pass on working with them. Because, let’s be honest, if you have a huge following but none of your followers are viewing, liking or commenting on your posts, it’s not worth anything to them. They are paying for exposure. So since the instagram algorithm has made things very difficult for those of us in the industry, many have turned to spending money to boost those numbers. But the truth is, no one should buy likes or followers or impressions (or anything else like it) on Instagram.
I’m not going to sugar coat it. Many choose to look away when they see it happening, but it’s time we spoke about it and were honest with one another.
You’re Not Fooling Anyone
All it takes is one click to notice whether or not your likes or followers were bought. The fake accounts are obvious and not hard to spot. They are usually accounts without profile pictures, with instagram names that don’t really mean anything or have tons of random numbers, letters or symbols, are private or have less than 10 posts with a vague bio. If within minutes, you’ve jumped 500-1000 likes, people are noticing.
There is no way, unless you’re a Kardashian, that you’re getting that kind of engagement in the span of a minute. Most companies will do their due diligence and check to make sure that your engagement is organic and real. They see what you’re doing, as do the rest of us. And if they didn’t before they hired you, they will when they check your engagement.
It’s Not Helping You
You may think that bumping your numbers is going to help you to land more campaigns, but the truth is, it’s actually hurting you. The instagram algorithm is all about figuring out who is liking your posts. Where in the world are they? How old are they? Are they male or female? That information shows up in your insights. Especially if you’re buying followers. And that can actually work against you if and when a company asks to see your demographics. It’s also not helping you to have a larger reach, like most people think. An influx of likes or follows suddenly, and without reason, is going to flag your account as participating in suspicious activity. And with that red mark on your account, you’ll probably be less likely to show up in any real searches, where real people will engage with or follow you.
You Could Be Damaging Your Reputation
This industry is a small one. Companies and agencies talk to one another. If one discovers you’ve been spending money to bump your numbers, they could share that information with other potential clients. That could determine whether or not you are hired for campaigns in the future. Plus, people in the community talk. No one wants to associate themselves with someone who is trying to cheat the system.
It’s Expensive To Maintain
Let’s face it, if you’ve decided that this is the path you want to take, no one is going to change your mind, especially not me. So think about it like this. You can’t just do it once. How will it look for you to have one photo with thousands of likes and all of the others with just a handful? So, you’ll buy likes again for the next one. And then the next one. And then, you’ll buy impressions because those numbers won’t match up. You might even buy followers to keep up with the illusion you’ve created. That can get costly to maintain. And in the end, what are you really spending your money on?
If you were in the desert, hot and thirsty, would you give someone $50 for a mirage of water? No… you’d probably just spend the time looking for actual water.
Spend Your Time and Money on Better Things
If you don’t find you have the time for actual, real engagement, hire a virtual assistant! Or if you can spare it, spend 15-30 minutes a day, finding your target audience and liking and commenting on their posts. It’s like tapping someone on the shoulder and letting them know you’re there. You’ll find that some will return the favor, check out your feed or even follow you.
One real person, with real interest in what you have to say and the products you’re sharing is worth so much more than 1,000 fake likes or followers. Spend your time building your brand, not destroying it.
You Could Lose Your Instagram Account
I’m sure whether you are a serial-engagement buyer or not, you’ve spent a great deal of time and energy building up your account. Instagram is really cracking down on third-party apps and purchased likes, follows, etc. You shouldn’t be putting yourself in a position where you could wake up and lose your account.
Instagram isn’t implementing these things to be cruel, but instead, because they want to get rid of the fake engagement that takes place. Will they automatically shut down your account when and if you buy followers or likes? No, probably not. But they could and is that a risk you really want to take?
But Most of All, It’s Fraud
Let’s be real… no matter how many different reasons I give you, the most important reason, is that it’s fraud. When you become a blogger or influencer, you are telling your followers who you are, what you love and what you believe in. The same holds true for the companies you work with. You are selling a service to them, which should provide genuine exposure to your audience. If that audience is purchased or the engagement on your posts are purchased, you are selling them a lie.
I’m not here to change you or your beliefs. I’m here to give you a different perspective on things. I want you to succeed, but I want you to succeed the right way. Success is something most people work very hard toward. You can’t buy it. You can’t fake it. And if you choose to go that route, know that it won’t last forever. Whether people notice and call you out, you get tired of throwing money away or companies stop working with you all together, it’s not a step in the right direction.
This is your brand. What do you want that brand to be known for?