WHAT IS IT ACTUALLY LIKE TO BUY FOLLOWERS?
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
After reading a NYTimes article, "The Follower Factory" I discovered that buying followers was really a thing that anyone could do, but I didn't fully believe it. I wondered if I'd really be able to as an "Average Joe."
Let me rewind a little bit though. During this time period I was "strongly encouraged" by my parents to take a leave of absence for a semester from my university because of my chronic pain condition. Which I eventually did because they made good points and it was necessary. Around this time as well, I was tinkering with a blog and subsequent social media channels because I had done digital media and marketing co-ops and really loved them. I wanted to get into "social media marketing" (which if you don't know what that is click on that link).
I created these pages and blog so that I could have something tangible to show future employers that I "knew" what I was doing so to speak and honestly, just did it kind of for fun.
During this time on Instagram I had a little over 1k followers. I got to that number by relentlessly being on my phone liking people's content through hashtags, etc. It took a good month I'd say to get there. But again, this was me constantly being on my phone and it was kinda exhausting. So, after reading that article I thought I'd try it out - I was curious what it was going to be like and I figured, "hey, even if it doesn't work I'll have a good story." Well it did work.
I genuinely can't recall the service I used for Instagram because it was over a year ago now. I do remember it was fairly cheap. (This was also before Instagram started cracking down on bots and these services in particular. I knew that a new instagram update was coming July 2018 from reading things about social media marketing so I knew I had a good 6 months to tinker with buying followers until then). Overall, I think I only spent about $100 on the service.
And no, I honestly don't recall how many followers I wound up buying. And after I did it, I think having a "higher" follower count (even if that's not the big picture of what's authentic) made people more inclined to follow my page, (fair or not), so I truly don't know who's "real" and who's "not."
Was it worth it?
HELL NO. Don't do it. I swear it's not worth it. Was it cool seeing my follower count skyrocket literally overnight? Yes, that was pretty snazzy to see, not gonna lie. But IT was a lie because these weren't people (as far as I knew). They were bots and they weren't going to like or engage with my content. They didn't *willingly* want to follow me. It's also blatantly obvious to anyone who knows what they're doing in the industry that I did that because it f*cked up my engagement rate.
If anyone ever asks me or makes a comment about my followers, I am *always* up front with the fact that I did that because 1) I think it's totally obvious and 2) I don't want to give a false representation. I regret doing it and am fairly embarrassed about it because of the engagement rate and that I didn't keep a closer eye on it. Lesson learned for sure!
There are other services that do offer to help you find "authentic people" to follow you - I tried these too for a month just to see if they were worth their salt. I truly don't think they're worth the money, but you do you. I did discover that they don't use the nicest tactics though and when a few people alerted me to that, that's when I stopped the service. One of these tactics is known as "Follow/unfollow" which literally means following someone and engaging with their content so they'll follow you and then unfollowing them. Again, not the nicest thing and that's not how I wanted to be represented so I stopped using them.
You are able to do this on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube but I didn't - I only used it for Instagram. I did use a service for Twitter because I can't run ads on the platform without paying a stupid fee (like over $100/per month fee) to create them. The service itself did a genuinely decent job and found people that actually engaged with my content which I liked and again it was fairly cheap at like $10-13 per week. Though I'll add that though it's "cheap" sounding - it adds up, and quick. On Facebook I just ran ads and that surprisingly did the trick on it's own, again for fairly cheap at like $5-10 per ad and I only did that about 1-2x per month.
Now, I don't pay for any service and my wallet and bank account are much happier.
So to sum up - I don't recommend buying followers, but services that offer to handle your social media (even if the practices aren't the nicest) - that's up to you to decide if that's something you're comfortable with or are interested in spending money on. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or old-school email.
Best of luck on your social media journey, everyone!