Table of contents
  1. 1. Definition
  2. 2. Overview and current status
  3. 3. Pros and cons of buying followers
  4. 4. Relevance to influencer marketing
  5. 5. Tips and tricks

Tips for influencers: avoid the temptation to buy followers. Brands started cutting off accounts that use the practice since it amounts to them being fake influencers

Definition

The act of purchasing followers refers to the practice of purchasing fake or actual followers to interact with a brand or influencer. When an account buys followers, it often violates the terms of service of a social media. 

 

Overview and current status

Accounts commonly purchase followers. Even major firms, leading brands, and celebrities buy them. Additionally, fake influencers also commit to buying engagements, referred to more commonly as buying likes. All parties do this to quickly raise their follower numbers, but a few brands started cracking down on the practice. 

Unilever leads the pack of firms cutting off influencers that use the practice in an effort to provide its customers a more authentic experience. Its CEO also stated the company will not buy followers. That put the Unilever in a rare class of account. Research by Points North Group revealed that about 78 percent of Ritz-Carlton followers are fake. It found that Pampers had 32 percent fake followers and Neiman Marcus had 22 percent. 

Check out the InfluencerDB's guide to detect fake followers

 

Pros and cons of buying followers

Buying followers can make an influencer account look impressive at first glance. It may have a large following and for brands that choose their influence team based on numbers only, that can net them some work. 

However, the disadvantage to purchasing followers is it becomes obvious quickly. The accounts using fakes rarely meet the average engagement rate of five percent. Another telltale signal, a sudden spike in followers, makes purchase obvious. To combat this, some follower sales firms offer “trickle” delivery. This refers to the practice of sending followers in smaller chunks. For example, if an influencer purchased 1,000 followers on a trickle plan, the firm would deliver them about 100 per day a few followers each hour during the day to simulate an organic following. 

fake-follower-detection-influencerDB

Sudden change in followers is a signal of purchasing 

Relevance to influencer marketing

The prevalence of purchasing followers pervades influencer marketing. Brands and companies have begun distancing themselves from the practice. 

 

Tips and tricks

The best practice takes a while: post-high-quality content during the course of a few years to organically build a following. It’s simply a bad idea to purchase followers. Brands or influencers should never commit in these fraudulent activities, since they are so easy to be exposed using a professional tool or influencer marketing metrics e.g. follower changes, audience data, media value per post, etc. 

InfluencerDB Audience Data can expose fake followers easily 

Here are a few of the worst practices. Avoid using these or partnering with an influencer who uses them. Each represents the proverbial red flag that the account uses fake followers or the individual or brand decided to buy followers. 

  • The account has a large number of overseas followers. This could indicate a purchase because many fake follower firms buy accounts from Eastern Europe or South America. 
  • The account has a lot of followers with no posts or no profile photo. 
  • The account has only a few posts, but a massive follower count. Genuine influencers build their accounts over time with hundreds or thousands of posts. 
  • The account follows a lot of people. This signals that the individual follows a large number of people hoping they will follow back - which is called follow-for-follow technique. Normally, an influencer follows one to five percent of its audience size. That doesn’t mean they follow one to five percent of its audience. It may only follow other genuine influencers, another common trait of real accounts with a genuine following. 
  • The comments on their pictures or posts seem generic. A lot of “Great pic!” comments on a post could signal the use of a follow bot or fake engagements. 

To avoid contracting with fake influencers, use an influencer marketing platform or cooperate with an influencer management agency that vets individuals for brands and firms. Both of them can help marketers find the perfect-fit influencers, analyze their profiles and also plan & execute the influencer marketing campaigns.