How many followers does your business have on Instagram? What about likes on Facebook? Go ahead. Bring the number up in your mind and now I want you to think about how that number makes you feel. Does it make you feel good or bad?
I ask this because there is an increasing amount of pressure for brands to measure their success by the size of their social media following. So much so, that an entire industry has sprouted that encourages business owners to purchase followers, likes, and even positive reviews. While it’s true that having a lot of fans and followers on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter is good for your business, the pressure to look like you’re doing well by purchasing followers can lead many brands to actually hurt their business instead of help it.
You may be wondering, “What’s so bad about faking it till you make it?
The problem is that these faux social media numbers don’t accurately measure success, they only mirror it. How so? At a glance, large numbers can make an account appear popular. Popularity does matter because of a concept called social proof. Social proof is a profitable selling tool. You see a lot of companies using it when they repost customer pictures or testimonials. Social proof tells your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter visitors that if others are following or buying from you, then it’s okay for them to become fans and customers too.
That’s where the temptation comes in to skip the slow work of building up real social proof, and instead creating the facade of success. I’m here to tell you why this isn’t the best move.
Here’s how purchasing social proof instead of earning can hurt your business:
Engagement is the amount of people that interact with your post either by liking, commenting, or sharing it. Purchased fans don’t engage with your content because they’re not real people. So, you may have thousands of followers, but your engagement will be low. On platforms like Facebook and Instagram this can work against you. One of the ways Facebook and Instagram’s new algorithm decides which post to show in the feed, is by looking at how much engagement each post has. The larger the gap between the number of followers and engagement, the least likely your updates will show up in the newsfeed of your followers.
I won’t lie. Having big numbers can not only feel good, but it can also help your business. However, these numbers are not the most important measurements for business success. There are other more accurate ways to evaluate your social media impact such as post likes, engagement, sales from your posts, traffic, leads, etc. Simply relying on a large number of followers can be a waste of money if you can’t determine how it actually makes you money.
Have you ever been checking out an Instagram account with a ton of followers? Let’s say they have 50,000 fans. At first glance all seems pretty legit, but after scrolling through the pictures you notice that they only have 20- 30 likes per photo. Obviously something off, right?
People WILL notice when you purchase a large amount of followers. Even if they don’t notice the odd lack of engagement, it doesn’t mean you won’t be found out eventually. Every few years social media platforms come out with an update that detects and removes fake profiles. When you purchase social proof, your business runs the risk of a suspended account or damaged reputation once you’ve been found out.
Keeping It Real:
You may look around and find yourself inspired by a similar brand who is doing much better than you. They have more customers, more reviews, more experience, and more money. The desire to be as popular as them is understandable, but the worst thing you can do is to pretend.
A gold plated business leads with deceit. That’s not the feeling you want to inspire in your brand. Instead, aim to be the real thing. Great brands understand that fame and notoriety in itself is not a business. It’s about the value that you are providing to your customers. Are your readers resonating with your blog posts? Do your customers see success after completing your challenge? Is your product getting positive feedback? Are your clients succeeding after a coaching session with you? These are REAL markers of success. So get clear on your brand’s value and let that guide you.