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9 Reasons to Focus on Organic Growth vs. Buying Followers

By
Ryan Gould
10
min read
9 Reasons to Focus on Organic Growth vs. Buying Followers

Social media is all about creating a genuine connection with your ideal customers through posting helpful and engaging content on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or TikTok. When you focus your organic growth efforts on social media, you’re developing real relationships with your followers which leads them to interact with your brand further. 

By fostering this online community, you will also attract other followers who hold commonalities with your current social media followers. This will lead you to collect more engaged followers in the long run that are excited to be following your brand!

But what happens when you buy followers? You may have completed a quick search online to see if buying followers is the right growth tactic for you, but you aren’t sure if it’s for you or not. In this post, we will examine the reasons why you shouldn’t buy followers and instead focus your efforts on organic growth.

Organic growth vs. buying followers: what’s the difference?

The rapid growth of social media and digital marketing over the last decade has seen businesses of all sizes take to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in an attempt to reach new audiences. While there are many benefits to using social media—it’s accessible, affordable, and scalable—the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed is whether or not businesses should buy followers in the hopes to pick up speed in the social media world. Let’s look at the difference between organic growth vs. buying followers. 

What is organic growth on social media?

Organic growth is the process of increasing your audience through building an online community of like-minded people who share your values and encouraging them to take action on your products or services on social media. This social media growth strategy can take time in order to foster meaningful digital relationships, but it is the most recommended way to collect committed followers for your brand. 

Pros

  • You get genuine followers. 
  • Organic followers are more likely to comment on or like your posts. (This helps boost your account in the algorithm.)
  • These followers are more likely to buy from you. 

Cons

  • It takes more time to build an organic audience. 
  • Waiting longer to meet a certain follower goal can be costly. 

What does it mean to buy Social Media Followers? 

Shady dollars buy followers
Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

Buying followers is a social media growth tactic where brands buy followers from a third-party source to make their brand look credible and well-recognized. By purchasing followers, it will look as though your account has a mass following even if those bought “followers” may actually be fake accounts or bots. Businesses do this because it may encourage real accounts to want to follow your account because you may look more “legitimate” at first glance. 

Pros

  • It’s a quick way to get followers.
  • Having a lot of followers may make your account look more legitimate.
  • Buying followers can be cheap. (We have seen some sites that will give you 1,000 followers for as low as $10 USD.)

Cons

  • Your followers may consist of fake and/or inactive accounts.
  • Your account may get flagged.
  • Your brand image will be tainted.

We went over what each growth tactic entails and some pros and cons of each. Now, let’s dive into more of the specifics of why you need to focus on organic growth instead of the “buying follower” method for social media success.

Why you should focus on organic growth instead of buying followers

With over 4.48 billion social media users across the globe, you want to make sure that you are doing everything in your power to grow your following the right way—especially as a business. Here are the 9 reasons why you should focus on organic growth instead of buying followers.

Instagram error

Buying followers is against the rules

Did you know that your social media account runs the risk of being suspended or shadowbanned if you are caught buying fake followers? Yikes! Almost every social media platform has some sort of rule against buying followers through a third-party source. But, we are going to take a look at Instagram specifically. 

Instagram is cracking down on fraudulent activity to ensure that its online community is safe and full of real-life connections between its members. According to the Instagram Community Guidelines, buying followers is fraudulent activity that will get your account flagged and shadowbanned. 

What is a shadowban? A shadowban is when your posts will only get shown to your followers and only to your current followers alone. This means that your account will no longer be searchable via hashtags or shown on the explore page because you broke the Instagram Terms of Use. 

In essence, the social media algorithm will no longer favor your account leading it to be almost impossible for new followers to find your account organically. And to make matters worse, getting shadowbanned is pretty much irreversible which is detrimental to your company’s social media account.

You run the risk of getting fake accounts

More than likely, if you buy followers from a third-party source, you will run the risk of purchasing follows from fake accounts. This means that any engagement you receive on a post isn’t from a real person. This can make it hard for your digital marketing team to strategize the social media content calendar for the month. 

Generally, marketing teams can easily analyze what posts are performing well and create more similar content to delight their follower base. But if most of your followers are fake, it can be hard to tell what kind of content you need to push out for the month or not. Buying followers can make crafting data-driven decisions that much harder for your social media team. 

Buying followers taints your brand image

Have you ever followed a brand online to realize that many of their followers seem to be fake? It affects your brand perception, doesn’t it? It may even make you wonder how many followers they may have bought to get their hefty follower count.

This is why buying followers can taint your brand image and make your account look fraudulent. (We think that it’s safe to say that no brand wants to see that happen to their account.)

In addition to tainting your brand image, buying followers dilutes your influence, makes you look unprofessional, and distracts you from what really matters—tailoring social media content that resonates with your audience. 

It’s hard to track genuine post engagement when you buy followers

Engagement is the best metric for all businesses to track because it gives further insight into exactly how your audience interacts with your social media posts. Some examples of engagement include:

  • Likes or Favorites
  • Comments
  • Mentions
  • Saves
  • Shares or Retweets

But, what happens when most of your followers are fake? Does that affect your social media engagement data? 

When you purchase followers, you don’t know if your social media engagement is from real individuals or fake bots. This makes it challenging for your team to analyze engagement metrics and make social media projections for the future. You won’t know what your audience wants to see published on your account which makes it difficult to create meaningful video content, social media posts, and stories for your viewers. 

Purchasing followers will muddle your social media metrics and audience information

In addition to making engagement difficult to track, your other social media metrics and audience information like geographic location, demographic information, click-through rate, and post reach will be muddled too. 

What do we mean by this? Let’s say you want to launch a Facebook ad campaign for a certain product or service. How will you know who to target or what messaging works best if all of your data is skewed? It would be almost impossible to create an effective Facebook campaign with contorted data. This is why having an organic following is essential if you want to create memorable posts and social ads that speak the language of your customers. 

Organic growth allows you to hear directly from your ideal customer

Have you ever gotten an insightful comment on one of your social posts, or received positive DMs from your customers? It’s a great feeling to know that your followers like to engage with your brand right?

In addition to feeling that “virtual pat on the back,” real customer sentiments can also help you formulate new products, services, or marketing campaigns. Listening to these sentiments may be just what it takes to set your business apart from the competition in a saturated market.

Notice that you received more shares on a certain post than others posts? Try sharing more similar content. Are you constantly getting DMs about a new product that your audience wants you to launch? Maybe consider launching that product idea next quarter.

But, what happens if you buy your followers? You probably already have a guess on what I am about to say. Basically, you won’t get this same level of insight if you buy your followers. These fake followers may comment unrelated comments or not even engage with your brand at all. This makes it harder for you to filter out the unrelated bot activity and find all of your meaningful customer conversations in your inbox or comment section.

You don’t want spam from fake accounts

It’s no secret that bots can be “spammy.” Whether your fake followers share irrelevant information in your comment section, or spam a bunch of emojis in response to your post, your real audience can sniff out suspicious account activity in a heartbeat. 

In fact, account spam can actually deter new followers from following you, or it could make your current audience click the “unfollow” button due to the amount of spam activity on your account. (The last thing you want to do is to make your ideal customers uncomfortable on your account or see your business as illegitimate.) 

Fake followers won’t actually buy from you

The whole reason for a business to have a social media account is to grow brand awareness, foster a community of like-minded individuals, and to receive more sales. Period.

But if your follower base is only made up of fake accounts, you will never get the number of sales you expect via social media (or even clicks to your website for that matter). It’s only when you get followers organically, that you can begin to nurture them in their individual buyer’s journey and get them to purchase from your business later down the road. 

Platforms actively purge fake accounts

You’ve just bought a bunch of followers. It was simple to do. But after a few weeks, it seems as though your follower count is receding. What’s happening? What’s going on with all the followers you bought?

Unfortunately, your bought followers probably got purged. Many social media platforms purge fake accounts because the purpose of being a social media platform is to connect real-life people to other social media users and to brands they care about—not to allow fake accounts to take advantage of the system and spam other users.

Quit taking shortcuts with social media growth

If you’re only going to take one thing away from this article, let it be this—you can’t take shortcuts to get real social media results. 

Buying followers may seem like an enticing growth tactic after doing a little bit of research online. But when you stop to think about the drawbacks, you recognize that the risks outweigh the benefits, and buying followers can negatively affect your brand presence in the long haul. 

And the worst thing that can happen to your account is getting banned by social media platforms. This negative drawback is almost impossible to reverse, which would mean that you won’t be able to have a platform to connect with your audience anymore. 

So, if you are about to buy followers online, stop and be sure to take the time to think through your decision and its impact on your bottom line.

~~~~~

Feature image by Adam Whitlock on Unsplash

August 16, 2021

About the author

Ryan Gould

Ryan Gould

Ryan is VP of Strategy & Marketing Services at Elevation B2B Marketing. From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations.

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