‘Can you get us 10k followers by the next time we see you?’ is probably a phrase every agency looking after a clients social media will hear. Our hearts immediately drop – ah the numbers game. Just in case you’re on a tight reading schedule, I will summarise the blog in a sentence; there is absolutely no value in this.

When setting out a digital campaign – both on websites and on social media, believe us when we say it’s carefully considered. Not just in terms of the creative but also, for the audience we want it to reach and engage with. The aim therefore, is to really engage with the chosen audience with an aim to convert them, whether that’s a conversion to be a fan of the brand, a sale or an enquiry. Surely, then, those measures of conversion are far more important than numbers. If you have 30 followers who are all organic and engaged with the brand, genuinely liking posts and making a purchase of product or service – we would argue this small audience is actually more valuable than a huge following. You may in contrast have 30,000 followers, with none that are actually making a conversion in terms of a like or sale. It perhaps could be because they’ve been built up over years and though they don’t unfollow, don’t necessarily see your account due to the algorithm, or perhaps because they’re bought followers.

Here we enter the numbers game, bought solely for the purpose of a brands or individuals ego and impatience. The 30,000 followers will no doubt look good on your page as a figure. But only until someone looks at how many people like your photos – the conversion will obviously be far lower than follower counts which indicates immediately that there’s something going on here. Using Instagram for sales is a great way to build a following of your  brand but I think the main part of this is keeping in mind for what you’re using it for; what are you trying to achieve? If you’re trying to achieve brand awareness and sales, a slower and organic growth of a small amount of engaged users that are genuinely interacting with your product and brand are so much more valuable.

The point of Instagram is to connect with people – whether that’s on a personal account with friends and family, as an influencer (you can’t influence a follow bot so it’s therefore pointless) and as brands to market product and services. Taking that away from the app renders these useless for both personal and professional methods. This isn’t even taking into account that Instagram shadow bans accounts it thinks are trying to cheat the algorithm and your account can be shut down as a result.

Another massive issue is that a brand will get limited engagement and not be able to gauge what their audience want to see more of. If you’re getting lots of likes for one style of content and then try something new and see a dramatic reduction in engagement, you’ll know this didn’t hit the mark with your audience and you should rethink. That’s a really useful method of reactive marketing and one that’s totally taken away if all your data is skewed because you’ve not spent the time to build up that trust and engagement with followers and tried to skip this step with purchasing followers. Knowing what works for your audience is particularly important when building the strategy for the account and how you want your business to be seen online. In today’s online world, many brands are found first by Instagram and social media and then clicked through to the website. That makes it such a powerful tool to use and one that should be seen as such and not overlooked as a small thing that can occasionally be posted on.

The ‘Pandora’s Box’ example is a good one for social media – once you open the account, it’s open and you can’t just allow it to run. You have to keep up with messages on there, post regularly and engage with users. Otherwise if a customer looks at your account and it’s almost blank, they will assume it’s a dormant account and may think you no longer are trading in products and services.

So in summary? Yes, buying followers is something that exists. But, when we’re planning content and digital marketing strategies with clients, we’re looking to create authentic, genuine content that is going to be part of that strategy and a valuable asset for them. To do this, we employ a number of things, if you’d like to discuss what these are, we’d love to chat through your content strategy. Get in touch and we’ll chat!