Ever heard of the saying; women lie, men lie but numbers don’t lie? Well, in the case of fake followers the opposite is true. Have you ever wondered how some people’s following on Instagram, Twitter and more recently SnapChat has just exploded into thousands? There’s a high chance that those people bought followers. Buying followers for your Twitter or Instagram is as easy as buying a book from Amazon. You can buy 1000 followers by a click of a button for less than R100 (depending on the Rand/Dollar exchange rate).

People buy followers for various reasons: Leigh Van Den Berg notes that because of the “influencer” craze, brands are putting a lot of money behind influencer campaigns. The first thing that brands look at when choosing influencers is the number of followers that a person has. If the number of followers is high then they are more likely to select that person. A high number of followers gives the impression that the reach will also be high: It is a numbers game. The truth is, a social media account that is infested with fake followers makes no impact. It is like performing in-front of empty chairs, no one is watching. However, there are ways to discover whether the followers are genuine or not. Below are the two main ways to identify social media accounts with fake followers:

1. Drastic increase in the number of followers

Growing genuine following takes time and hard work. Unless, you are a famous celebrity and you’ve just joined a social media platform you may be able garner a following in a short period of time. Otherwise, there’s a high chance that the followers have been bought. If the number of followers are steadily increasing but the user is not posting anything this could be an indication that the followers were bought.

2. Low engagement, if not zero.

Chances are, you have once came across a social media account that has 10 000 followers, but the engagement is so low that their posts only get about 10 likes and zero comments. However, I must emphasise that this point is quite tricky because users can also purchase likes and comments. For example an Australian Travel Instagrammer once posted a black and white picture and received a comment that read “great colours”. This was clearly a bot making the comment.

Brands need to be cautious of the fake followers phenomena. In an article by Hadlee Simons on BizCommunity, Leigh van den Berg and Candice-Lee Kannemeyer share their experiences with buying followers for the fake Instagram account that they have created. The duo said they found the process to be shockingly simple. Naming their fake account fake_fake_fake1981 and making a declaration that it was fake on the account profile wasn’t enough to stop them. Read full article here

My advice to brands would be to rather invest an influencer with a small but authentic following and grow with them instead of having someone with many bots following them.
If you know someone who you suspect has fake followers or have any thoughts on the topic leave a comment below. If you like this post, please share it. Remember to also get in touch with @PatOnBrands on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram .

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Thokozani Patrick Mahlangu

Thokozani Mahlangu is an internationally certified digital marketing professional and an Mcom Business Management graduate from the University of Johannesburg. He is the Chief Brand Creator of Pat onBrands and Pat onFitness- a fitness movement through which organizes weekly runs under the banner #RunWithPat.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. So True MR Pat, but what happens in the case of where your account on Instagram isn’t on private and you see all these fake follow requests ?

  2. Great post post Pat. I always say that the quality of the following will always beat the follower number at face value. It also doesn’t do a local SME brand (that can only service locally) much good if they’re following is coming from abroad. It’s all about the specifics. Are they real? Are they your demographic? Are you relevant in such a way that the engage with you? Can you measure the ROI of your efforts to justify your business even investing in that particular social media channel etc?

    Very important issue you just pointed out. Keep up the awesome work!

  3. Great post post Pat. I always say that the quality of the following will always beat the follower number at face value. It also doesn’t do a local SME brand (that can only service locally) much good if they’re following is coming from abroad. It’s all about the specifics. Are they real? Are they your demographic? Are you relevant in such a way that the engage with you? Can you measure the ROI of your efforts to justify your business even investing in that particular social media channel etc?

    Very important issue you just pointed out. Keep up the awesome work!

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