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10.1.15

A WORD OF WARNING: BUYING FAKE FOLLOWERS ISN'T WORTH THE AGGRO

Numbers are big business within the social media landscape. Bloggers have become media fodder thanks to a huge Twitter following and overnight stars have arisen because of a hugely aspirational Instagram account. Building up influence takes a huge amount of time, effort and sometimes money, so it can be awfully tempting to cheat the system and buy your way to the top via unethical channels. With bloggers making serious amounts of cash from their sites and the bloggersphere becoming even more competitive, it's even harder to maintain growth and prove your value to those interested parties. With the click of a button and only a few dollars, it's easy as pie to buy yourself a few thousand new followers and fool both readers and brands into thinking you're more influencial than you are. It's long been a topic of conversation amongst the community, but buying fake followers really isn't the way forward - it not only opens a can of worms, but it can impact upon your long-term credibility and place within the bloggersphere.


It's Easy To Be Found Out 
It may seem appealing to buy 1000 extra Twitter followers for the same amount as a Starbucks lunch, but those accounts come with obvious attributions that make them easy to spot. All of these 'followers' are completely fake accounts that often have pictures of porn-star-type women or Asian men with dodgy facial hair, partnered with a bizarre username such as 'loo87fed' and the same ten generic followers. If you scroll through someone's account it takes ten seconds to spot a huge lump of followers that fit this profile, especially if the account in question is a beauty or fashion blogger that has limited appeal to 876 Asian men living on the other side of the world. As buying numbers becomes even more prevalent, bloggers and readers are becoming increasingly vigilant at spotting faux accounts and calling them out. I know bloggers that have been forced to close their accounts completely after admitting they'd bought upwards of 50,000 new followers; why jeopardise your hard work by one silly moment of madness?  

You'll Lose Respect
You may have the best blog in the world, write awesome content and have a huge amount of blogger buddies, but as soon as you step over to the dark side all respect vanishes. If you've bought a bunch of followers and attempted to deceive both readers and brands that potentially want to work with you, what else have you lied or manipulated your way through? It simply opens a whole can of worms and puts your overall position under scrutiny. The bloggersphere and success of blogs has been built upon the values of honesty, transparency and integrity, so stepping away from this fundamentally undermines the respect you command. 

Clearouts Are Inevitable 
There's no getting away from the fact that Twitter implements regular clean-ups to remove inactive and spammy accounts; Instagram have also recently introduced their own clear-out to remove fake accounts which saw some bloggers losing upwards of 20,000 followers. You can buy your way to the number of your dreams, but it may only be temporary - sooner or later those accounts will be shut down as they remain unused and a complete waste of space. In the long-term, you may as well through your money out the window.

It Impacts How Your Content Is Seen 
Apart from anything else, algorithms are in place on sites such as Facebook and Twitter that impact how often your content is seen and by whom. If you buy 10,000 followers that are totally inactive and therefore don't engage with your content (either by reply, commenting, sharing, retweeting or favouriting) then these networks will assume your posts are a bit naff; this will reduce your natural exposure. It's hard enough to ensure posts are seen by more than four people on Facebook and that tweets stick around for longer than thirty seconds, so why would you make it even harder for yourself? It's just not worth it. 

Quantity Vs Quality  
In my opinion, 2015 is the year when the swing in balance starts to commence from quantity over to quality. It's far more valuable to have 1,000 followers that genuinely trust your opinion, engage with your site, buy from your recommendations and act as ambassadors, rather than 10,000 that sit there and do nothing. A lot of these massive vloggers have millions of followers, but a huge percentage are often 14 year olds that only want to tell them how much they love their hair and want to be like them when they grow up. Brands are becoming more and more aware of the value that more relevant and targeted sites have for them, so there's really no need to fake your way forward. Promise.

Focus On The Good Stuff
If you're ever tempted to click the 'buy now' button, then remember you've probably got something really rather awesome under your belt that means a lot to a lot of people. Focus on the good things, the feedback you get from your current community and how great it feels to achieve that mini milestone every time your follower count notches up a little. There's far more satisfaction in a community and network you've build up via hard work, dedication and patience than there is throwing some money at it and winging it.

Were you aware that it was so easy to buy fake followers? Have you ever been tempted to grow your presence in this way? Have you had experience of bloggers or influencers using this method?


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31 comments

  1. Well said. I am an new blogger with a blog that is just over a month old and I have never once thought to buy any followers. I know how tough it is to create a following and I am not in it for the amount of followers I have but to let people know about my opinion of certain products and brands. All my followers I got through writing blog posts, commenting on others and tweeting. There is no way that I would ever buy followers...the risk is too much. Gaining followers the old fashioned way is best and I am going to stick to that.

    blogsandpearls.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. I never understood why people would want to buy followers. What is it supposed to imply?

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  3. I can't say I've ever been tempted to 'buy' followers, I don't really see the point! As you said, they are often unused accounts and I'd much rather engage with people than have some number on a page.

    I liked the quality vs quantity you wrote about and it's true. I'm not a huge blogger by any means but I do work with companies and because I don't have a following in the 100s, 1000s or even millions, I know it must be because of me and my writing that they are working with me (that does wonders for self esteem!)

    Alana x

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  4. Finally someone addresses how unproductive buying followers is! It might take a while but if you work hard and believe in your blog, it'll all pay off

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  5. I never knew this even existed until recently, I guess that's because I've been off the scene for a while and come back to find a hell of a lot of changes. This being something that shocks me the most.

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  6. This is so well said. I have only just hit 100 followers on my blog, but I'm so grateful for those I have as they all interact with me and I know they're genuine! I can see why it would be appealing to buy them, but it's just not worth it! I'd much prefer to have real people actually reading the content I post rather than ghost followers who won't see any of my posts.

    Beauty and Lifestyle Blog

    xx

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  7. A fantastic piece... Straight up and honest, something you're obviously known for. I didn't even know you could buy followers!! I have to say the thought isnt even remotely appealing. After all you've hit the nail on the head - you should start as you mean to go on, and honesty and transparency really are the best way forward!
    Keep them coming, I really love reading your posts!
    Rabia x
    soapNskin
    @soapNSkin launching Spring 2015

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  8. I don't understand why people would want to 'buy' followers, and like you said it is easy to find out if you've brought followers since they are easy to spot. x

    FARFROMPERFECTIONXO

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  9. really interesting post ! well done :)

    http://allornothing-blog.blogspot.co.uk/

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  10. wow a really interesting post, as someone who is completely new to the blog world I think there is some very valuable information there.

    www.vickysmakeupmusings.blogger.com

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  11. People actually do this?! Bonkers!!!

    Fake followers are probably easier to manage than real ones though! They don't answer back!!!

    http://mrstubbs65.blogspot.co.uk





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  12. Wow I didn't know people actually did this! Seems a bit silly to me...
    www.liquidgrain.co.uk

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  13. Totally agree - plus you look like a wally with x thousand amount of followers and only 2 comments on your blog posts!

    Jen xx
    www.kitsch-n-sync.com

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  14. I had no idea that people are actually able to buy followers, it's crazy what lengths people will go to just to gain followers.
    I've just opened my blog within the last 2 months and I only have a few followers, and i'm happy with that because they are people and not spam/fake/bought accounts.

    www.astateofdreams.com

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  15. There's been a lot of twitter chats about this recently. It's not something I would ever consider. There's been a lot of crack downs as well and people have noticed accounts losing hundreds or thousands of followers. Definitely not worth the humiliation if you ask me
    Reinventing Neesha ♥

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  16. It's really sad that the blogging world is so number orientated. It can make you feel really deflated when you see someone who has just started has huge numbers... but then you have to stop and think if they are actually genuine. Very interesting - I guess stats are the only real way to know of a blogs reach & success. Great article!

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  17. I personally know one blogger who has done this for certain and I suspect a couple of others. It makes me sick. Some people want to get to the top without having the talent or the patience and think buying 'fans' is the way to go. It's really pathetic that some people value numbers over all else. I'd sooner have 500 real followers than 50,000 fake ones any day. xx

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  18. All of this is quite new to me, the whole thing confuses me and I wouldnt even know where to start with it all in any case, but then to do it, I find it quite sad that people feel they would have to result to such measures in the first instance x

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  19. Write on! As a new blogger, I couldn't agree more. I write because I WANT TO WRITE. The dream is that readers will find my blog in an organic and legitimate way. I found you because you liked a photo on my Instagram account (I thank you) which, hopefully led you to that particular blogpost. In return...I am here, reading and enjoying your efforts. That's how it should (and does) work! I'll be checking in with your blog regularly ... Caro

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  20. Feeling very naive for not realising this was a thing until seeing people talking about it on Twitter recently; what is the point?! xx

    Magpie Jasmine

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  21. So very true about quality over quantity. My favourite bloggers are those with fewer followers (and you!): they're sincere. They also don't have blogs or vlogs plastered with ads. If Lisa Eldridge can do it, so can everyone else. Sorry it that sounds blunt, but the incongruous ads behind blogs are very off putting and, frankly, ugly. On vlogs they're just time-consuming and unnecessary.

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    Replies
    1. As an avid reader of blogs I don't mind it if people use ad banners, just as long as they are not intrusive and all over the place and pop up out of nowhere.

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  22. So true, but why are people finding the need to do it? Whatrver their reasons I certainly don't think its ethical.

    L
    frostingofsilver.blogspot.com

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  23. People really do that!? Not something I would ever have thought about! Craziness

    http://www.mrsdloves.com

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    Replies
    1. Yep. There are websites out there that specialize in buying followers.

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  24. I keep getting random spammy type followers, its so irritating, i try going through and blocking them then another pops up! i dont need to pay for them i just keep getting them. its all very strange.

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  25. As I've recently discovered, having never, ever bought a single follower, is that you can end up with a whole load of spam followers (compers?) with no clue. So it looks like you've done a little bit of follower shopping but in fact, they've just arrived rather than been welcomed! When Instagram did their clear out I lost about 200 followers that I'd never had any clue were spam in the first place. I have some on Twitter too and no clue how to get rid of them.

    Stats manipulation is one of those really annoying things about the blogosphere - the absoute majority of bloggers don't do it but while we all know who does and doesn't, the brands and PRs are easily swayed by a mass of stats. There are a million and one ways to massage stats but the biggest ever clue that something isn't right is lack of engagement.

    No matter the size of your blog, it's all about your core of engaged readers, and for us bloggers, they're the best thing about blogging - the ones that leave comments, talk to you on Twitter or other channels... it's what makes it so rewarding. We can churn out all the exclusives in the world but if it moves nobody, there's no point!

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    Replies
    1. Once in a while I have similar issues and I think the best way is to block/report them.

      http://trendsstyleandfeatures.blogspot.co.uk/

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    2. Anonymous22.2.15

      What do you think about those various Apps in the App store and Android has them as well, they are sort of promotional apps which are supposed to be made of real people, and they use coins/tokens. You can get Instagram, twitter, pinterest etc. followers.

      Delete
    3. I had no idea about this, so will take a look! I've only seen the hundreds of sites you can literally buy 1000 followers for $9.00...

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  26. I started my blog at the end of 2013. I don't have many followers on it and I have over 500 followers on Twitter but I have never ever considered buying followers. Ever.

    What annoys me though is that once in a while I get spammy accounts following me, and sometimes I get people Tweeting me links to buy followers...but I just end up blocking them.

    http://trendsstyleandfeatures.blogspot.co.uk/

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