The iScream Social Media Blog

You Can’t Buy Love & You Can’t Buy Real Followers

Educational Newsletters

While the competitive business world can often feel like a contact sport, being known in your community as someone who has integrity and is trustworthy will help establish a strong reputation.  This includes your social media presence. Much has changed within social media in the last few years. In a field where Instagram influencer marketing is now a $1B industry, paying for followers, likes and views in an effort to seem more relevant can be tempting, but in the long run can end up backfiring, reflecting poorly on your brand and business. 


1. Danger of buying followers on social media

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all been cracking down on the use of bots. Instagram’s terms of service are incredibly clear – do not use bot programs, period.  What does this mean? Quite simply, if you used bots (knowingly or unknowingly) to bolster your number of followers or friends your account could be suspended or you may be “shadow banned”. This phrase has been thrown around a lot, but many haven’t understood exactly what it is – and if they’ve actually been affected by the Instagram Shadow Ban or if they’re just struggling with really low engagement. Shadow banning covertly targets certain users to restrict content and limit audience engagement. Abhinav Vardevu a former Software engineer at twitter said: “The idea of shadow ban is to ban someone, but they don’t know they’ve been banned because they keep posting, but nobody can see their content. People just think nobody is engaging with their content when in reality nobody is seeing it.”  There are also other, less scandalous ways to get shadow banned, for example surges in activity. If you all of a sudden go on a following spree in an attempt to gain “follow backs”, or like many images all at once – this could potentially make you appear to be a bot and cause a trigger. You will want to ensure that whomever is managing your social media, knows the rules of engagement or risk your content being hidden.

2. From where do you think your fake followers originate?

Some fake accounts are used hundreds to thousands of times to auto-follow, auto-comment, auto-share and auto-like, in order to create the perception they are real. While others steal identities to appear real, including those of underage children.  According to the New York Times, “At least 55,000 of the accounts [sold by one such company, Devumi]  use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors”.  This is large-scale social identity theft, and not something you want to get your business in bed with.

3. Fake followers = fake sales

Unless you are trying to win endorsement deals by showing off your impressive followership — and even in that case, savvy businesses have ways to prove your followership is real before they invest — there is little to be gained. Many businesses and individuals, however, unknowingly have enlisted bots and companies who use them to bolster their follower counts.  Beyond knowing participants, many businesses hire social media companies without realizing they are using bots to obfuscate their inability to organically and authentically grow follower counts using industry best practices.  We predict (just as we suggested bots would see a legal crack down nearly 2 years ago when we decided to only add followers using real people and real work to entice people to follow our clients’ accounts) that the enforcement of these rules is only going to become more aggressive.  We strongly recommend you ensure your social media management team is getting your followers legitimately or that you hire iScreamSocialMedia.  To learn more about iScreamSocialMedia and our social media management services, paid social media advertising campaigns, and more reach out to us at GetTheScoop@iScreamSocialMedia.com.