We all want to be the kid in the lunchroom who everyone wants to sit with. It says “You are valid, you are liked” and it gives you the dopamine shot into your skull to push you to get out of your comfort zone. Of course, for most of us, we were the kid holding our lunch tray awkwardly looking for a place to sit and ending up like Lindsay Lohan in “Mean Girls”, eating in the bathroom stall. With social media influencers becoming the new wave of “cool kids”, it has become apparent that influencers have been faking their clout – because if you don’t have followers, are you even a legit? While the common man may say “yes”, as the years go by this answer will become more ambiguous. How real is the actual interest in these influencers is yet to be seen? Obviously, we know some influencers can get paid to promote products and be busked around the world – but how many of them are honest? Here’s why, for your brand or personal life, the clout may not be worth it.
We Know You’re Faking It!
There are now some online businesses that specialize in gaining followers. Some companies offer 500 followers for as cheap as 6 bucks, others offer 1,000 followers for $10. Back in the day, these numbers meant something. It meant you were liked. Nowadays numbers don’t mean much if you don’t have the engagement to back it up. Most of these sites offer “dead” accounts or bots to follow you. What this means is while you might have a fancy number to flaunt, you won’t actually get any likes or comments. While you may say “who cares? The more the merrier!” This could actually hurt your credibility. For anyone who decided to snoop on your brand or personal account, it is immediately apparent when someone is buying their followers. For example, if you have 30,000 followers and every picture you post only gets around 10 views and 2 engagements (AKA, comments/likes) it is immediately clear that you are faking your popularity. Let’s be real here, no one likes the kid with money who buys all their friends.
Were you Really there… Like, Really?
We all know “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO has been an increasingly real problem in today’s consumer society. Of course, when we logically think about it, every party, vacation, night out, and extravagant events, such as going to the newest musicals aren’t an everyday thing. When we look at our Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, however, it’s easy for our logic to get clouded and quickly forget that these are just glimpses of a person’s life – and only the very best glimpses at a person’s life at that! However, wanting to experience these awesome moments is what influencers prey on. They want the user following them to think they have a perfect life. Perfect significant others, perfect vacations, perfect bodies, etc… Some influencers go so far as to photoshopping their reality to make it look just that much more tantalizing – and by the way, that sort of thing is pretty easy to sniff out. Everyone can use photoshop, but not everyone can use it well, and even if they can, mistakes can happen. There are many forums online ridiculing and pointing out the not so perfect life that Instagram models try to portray. If your fans see you’re faking it, chances are they’ll quickly unfollow you, because who wants to admire a liar?
Youtube Knows You’re Cheating.
When you buy views for sites such as Youtube, Youtube is quick to figure out if they’re organic or not. Of course, we all know organic viral videos can happen overnight: you see a cute dog and kitty video and share it with your friends, they share it with theirs and so on and so forth. Suddenly you’re at one million views in a few days. If you see a video with 1,000 views or one with one million, which one do you click on? The one with the higher count, presumably because that one says to you “people thought this was worth viewing”. When these quick view counts happen rapidly, Youtube puts a quick pause on the count to make sure perjury in views isn’t happening. Sure, there are still online companies you can spend more scratch on to provide “quality” views (hint: they probably still aren’t that high quality), chances are, out of the 100 “quality” followers they give you, the majority are bots – and Youtube is very good at finding bots. Guess what happens to the video you posted that has been found to be bot influenced in views? Spoiler alert: They delete it.
While there are several online services you can pay to expand your brand, chances are most will offer you low-quality followers and even worse engagements. Sure a number looks pretty for the layman, but anyone with half a brain can figure out how high quality you are in none of your followers seem to give a flip about you. Instead, try a more organic route: follow others, engage with them, have them follow you back. It may be the “harder” approach, but it’s certainly the smarter one.
Written by: Lauren Anderson