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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Lets talk about it: buying followers

Yep i'm going there, today we're talking about the practices which I've seen going on on social media recently: the spam comments, the mass following, suspended accounts and all around fakery. Its going to be a long one, I've got a lot to say.
Instagram fakery is on the rise and I'm starting to see bloggers i would've considered my internet friends using spam tactics to grow their follower numbers. 
I want to bring light to the other side of social media, the side which i was ignorant to before becoming a blogger that has become increasingly relevant in the past weeks and months.




Over the last few weeks I've been paying particular attention to patterns on instagram to get to know the fakes..

Tactic 1: Buying followers:

I know we all pay attention to our own "likes" but have you ever taken a look at anyone elses'? I'll get a follower notification and click on the account, i think wow this person has 200K followers and only follows 200 people! How have i not heard of this seemingly huge blogger before and why have they chosen to follow me??? Before starting my research into this i would've simply followed the account back and got on with my day but as my suspicions rose i decided to check the number of likes each post was averaging. With 200,000 followers you'd easily achieve thousands of likes per post however this person was getting around 100, when you go further in you'll see that all of their recent followers are accounts who follow thousands of people but only have 1, 2 or no posts uploaded. 

In the past this wouldn't have bothered me but once i started to think into this i realised, this account may actually be thought of as a credible blogger.
For me this isn't about follower numbers or who brands decide to work with, this is about the blogging community and supporting bloggers who you know are working as hard as you to create genuine content and engage with their following no matter how big or small.  Nobody wins when buying followers except the scam you bought them from, you end up following thousands of inactive or irrelevant accounts who don't engage with your content. What the point of having 200,000 followers if only 100 of them actually respond to what you do? Thats the same as having 100 followers, which in itself is an achievement when grown organically but not when bought.

FROM A PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVE:

Parental influence a blogger and brand networking database service told me:

"a lot of Influencers are doing it because they believe brands want big followers and this isn't true. (c) They also think it goes undetected, when we will probably spot a bot followed account within about 30 secs to a minute" - Parental influence @PMGinfluence via twitter.

As a blogger i get these emails offering me instagram fame daily, but if you've never seen one before heres a typical example and an insight into how they work:


When i read these emails i always feel like I'm on the inside of the sordid bit of the internet, like you're suddenly involved because you're given information on how it all works.

Theres one line in these emails which always crops up "they're not interested in your content", the way I've interpreted how these sights work is using 1 of two ways: the followers are completely fake accounts created by a computer OR the followers are "real" but would've never followed you in the first place and therefore will never actually interact with anything you post and will probably unfollow you unless you follow them back.  Just like the sites that offer completely fake followers its likely that once you gain the followers you'll loose them again because Instagram is always working to suspend spam accounts.

Tactic 2: Spam commenting:

I tweeted about this recently and many seemed to agree, one of the most annoying things that has arisen on instagram lately is the spam commenting. This never used to be a problem but since instagram changed their algorithm (i know, we won't go into that) where growth comes from the comment section i, like many others have been plagued with ridiculous comments from people trying to bag followers. This isn't a few comments here and there, this is dedicated instagram groups called "comment pods" who aggressively copy and paste the same phrase and emoji under your posts. Yeah you know the ones. This is like spamming on another level; coordinated with groups and rules all laid out for you to follow with the aim of growing your following.

 The best example i have is when i posted this picture of makeup on instagram...



To receive these comments...


Lovely outfit don't you think? You'd be pretty cold though... 

Tactic 3: Mass following & unfollowing.

Ever been followed by a group of people all of a sudden only to be unfollowed minutes later? I was once followed by around 15 people within seconds of each other, i had followed most of them back because these accounts were relevant to what i want to see and then noticed my follower count start dropping, i went over to the unfollowers app i use and watched them drop off my follower count one by one. 

It seems like some people have a goal on Instagram just to follow and unfollow you as quickly as possible once they see you've followed back; I know the style of account so well now that i can almost predict whether they're going to do it or not. 

Thats it for my effort at exposing the bad part of the blogging community, by writing this i really wanted to reinforce the importance of blogging because you love it and love creating the content that you make, no matter if you've got 5 or 50,000 followers. - Maria x

While you're at it why don't you follow me on instagram so i don't have to buy followers instead? 

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28 comments

  1. Wahoo! Thanks for finally saying it! Every night my followers grow and decrease by the same amount and it drives me nuts! I know I'm never going to have as many followers as high bloggers and that's why I use it more as a personal account now as it used to bug me with all the fakery so I stopped trying to be a part of that! It is no significance as to how much of a good writer I am on my blog!
    Also I HATE when people tag me in a rubbish photo along with a hundred other people and comment it saying get more followers - I don't need your help! Get lost! Haha!

    www.carriedbyfoxes.com

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    1. Thank you for reading! I get the same thing, over night i loose loads of followers and it drives me insane! I get that too, all the things that happen on instagram are crazy! - Maria x

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  2. I totally agree! I actually put a fair amount of effort into my Instagram and it's SO annoying to gain like 30 followers and lost 50 overnight just because you don't follow back. That defeats the point and I don't remember Instagram ever being like this either... and it's a total sham.e

    xx Heather | stormywheather.com

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    1. Instagram is particularly bad at the minute, you're right it was never like this before! i always open my instagram in the morning just thinking well lets see how many followers I've lost today! - Maria x

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  3. This is such a relevant post and everything you have said is spot on. I always assumed that the people using these tactics were not really bloggers but it's quite worrying when you said that some of your internet friends have been doing this! Personally, I don't see any satisfaction in buying followers - to me, gaining just a handful of loyal followers who go on to become blogger friends is a thousand times nicer than having a K next to my Instagram followers! It's also quite frustrating for those bloggers who have built their blogs from scratch with nothing more than a domain name and maybe investing in a good camera... I just feel like this kind of approach to blogging that you've described ruins it all for the whole community and may create a vicious circle where you feel like if you can't beat them, you have to join them. Hopefully that won't happen, and with posts like yours, we can all become more aware of this negative situation seeping into the blogging world! Thank you so much for sharing this! xx

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment! Instagram is an absolute nightmare at the minute, like you i thought that it wasn't really bloggers or people i know but now that I've seen it i can't believe it! I'd much rather have a smaller loyal following than buy all of these uninterested followers! - Maria x

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  4. I love this post! I'm really not enjoying Instagram at the minute because of this. It's so frustrating that everyone who seems to follow me is a 'bloggers' with hundreds of thousands of followers. All they seem to do is buy followers or follow people and unfollow them as soon as they get their follow back. It puts a dark cloud over the blogging community and it's so sad.
    www.courteneynoonan.com

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    1. It is something really sad because it makes you feel like you're the only one not doing it but there are still so many of us trying to organically grow our following so you're not alone! - Maria x

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  5. Hi Maria,

    I'm here for the first time - happy to find your blog!

    As a freelancer, I'm often lurking around PeoplePerHour and similar websites - and it's shocking to see that so many people sell those "reliable followers" to others. What does that even mean?! It's not rewarding to have a bunch of bots boosting your numbers, and I agree everyone can tell when it's the case. I think that if you've started blogging, you're in it for the fun of seeing your audience grow, and engaging with your community - and there's much more pleasure in watching someone genuinely appreciating what you do!

    Great post. I'll stick around for more ☺️

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    1. Hi, thank you so much for reading and for your lovely comment! Buying followers is such a ridiculous practice but like you said the fun comes from seeing your actual engagement and creating content people will love, hopefully more people will realise that soon! - Maria x

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  6. LOVE this! I also wrote about automation on Instagram recently, I hope you don't mind me leaving the link here: http://katyclouds.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/automated-posting-applications-are.html

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    1. Thank you! I'll definitely check it out, its something i'm loving reading about recently! - Maria x

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  7. I agree with this so much! It's been happening to me a lot lately especially the accounts that follow you and then a couple hours later, they unfollow. I always have to laugh at it a bit because do they really think I'm going to fall for their tricks? It's all so reminiscent of the "follow for follow" thing that Blogger experienced a few years back (or is still experiencing, I'm not sure). It's ridiculous.

    I try to grow my instagram (and other social media) organically but do occasionally participate in giveaways knowing that after the giveaway, 80% of the people unfollow me, but still, if just 2 or 3 out of those who entered the giveaway actually genuinely like my content then I am happy. :)

    -Victoria
    treelinedavenue.com

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    1. Yeah its especially annoying with the people who just unfollow because it means you're constantly loosing followers! - Maria x

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  8. God, thanks for finally saying it! There's nothing more infuriating. I quite often get big accounts with 10k+ followers following me and I'm like hey that's cool! Just to, like you say, see they have little to no actual engagement. The auto commenters are the worst!

    Alice x | www.invocati.co.uk

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    1. Thank you! I know isn't it ridiculous, the auto comments have to be the worst especially because its not always huge account doing it sometimes its people i follow! - Maria x

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  9. Follow/unfollow annoys me more than I would like to admit. It is just the stupid notifications. I get swarmed by them, but by the time I actually open my Instagram, half of them are gone. My numbers are going up and down like some rollercoaster. And, tbf, it is just so hard to stay involved in Instagram once the community delusion is gone. I have met many many great people there but recently have been through such a bad streak of people just spamming me around, I have not opened the app in two weeks x.x

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    1. Its crazy isn't it? A few days ago i gained like 20 followers and the next i lost about ten it drives me mad. Hopefully it'll improve! - Maria x

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  10. The spam liking/commenting is so obvious as well. One blogger I follow is consistently liking accounts with one or two photos, with everything in Thai, and it's a black square or a white 'for sale' etc and she blogs fitness. SO it is v obvious!

    Great post!

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    1. Its so annoying when you see other bloggers doing it, especially when most people wouldn't realise what they're doing! - Maria x

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  11. This post is bang on! I've definitely seen this pattern a lot on Twitter whereby my followers go up and down like crazy, it's so annoying. I'm definitely going to follow your tip RE: the 200k vs 200 followers things. Thanks for the interesting read :) x

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    1. Thank you so much, i thought it was only me noticing it but after writing this i've realised everyone sees it! - Maria x

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  12. I've enjoyed reading this so much. My Instagram is something I have only recently decided to take seriously - a little late for a journalist. I've found all the things you discuss very interesting and very obvious. Can you tell me which app you use to see people who unfollow you? I'm the same, I always follow back if the account is interesting but its obvious people don't always stick around.

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    1. Thank you! Its an app called "followers", its really good and free and really interesting to see who's unfollowing you! - Maria x

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  13. Oh my god those "great outfit" comments hahaha

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    1. Ikr they make me die i'm just like why did you even bother ahaha x

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  14. Such a good read!! Literally it annoys me so much!!! I just hope everybody can see through the fakers as well as we can haha! xxx

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    1. aw thank you!! i'm not sure whether they know but jokes on them i guess! x

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