Recently we’ve been talking to brands seeking social media PR & marketing support. On first glance, some of their Instagram account follower figures might look impressive: 10K plus and upwards. However, as we start to delve deeper, we can see that the engagement levels are lower than anticipated for the number of followers (although, engagement levels are in natural decline anyway).
Looking through the likes interaction from the ‘followers’ we can also see a pattern of likes from suspicious accounts. These could be random bots, which any account can fall victim to. And while Instagram is cracking down on fake accounts, there are plenty out there and more cropping up daily. However, this data alone doesn’t really tell the full story to a huge Instagram account following.
Often, the brands we have spoken to have appointed someone to look after their social media channels. In an attempt to please their clients, the agency has purchased fake followers only to leave the client confused months later at the lack of interaction from their audience and basically, no real-life customers.
Take our example below. This PR & Marketing agency is promoting itself with social media services. We took a look at their account on one of their social media platforms. Notice the sudden peak from 5,405 followers on Saturday which jumps up to 10,006 by the Monday morning.
Wow, 4,601 followers in just under three days and look how the number is continuing to grow after being static for so long.
A sudden burst like this could indicate purchased followers, along with likes from suspicious accounts. We’d expect to see peaks and troughs on the follower count as people play the ‘follow and unfollow’ game, but instead, we see a sudden increase. Looking through their social media posts around that period, there is no reason for the sudden influx in new Instagram followers. So, you have to ask where did they all come from?
Do their social media consultancy services include recommendations for buying followers?
We doubt it!
The problem is that if an agency is presenting a picture to you that gaining a large following is quick and easy, then how are you going to feel when the reality is very different? Disappointed eh?
Every decent Social Media Manager knows that growing a brand’s Instagram account’s following and social media engagement takes time, effort and, ultimately, some ad spend.
So next time you are obsessing about your Instagram account following for your business, look at the broader picture. Isn’t it better to have 5K plus of real-life followers than 4K+ followers that will never buy from you, recommend your business or translate into real customers?
The tide is turning, and so should your attitude to follower numbers. Look for real engagement, traction and traffic to your site as indicators of brand success. Follower numbers are nothing but a vanity measure and the more that individuals and brands continue to buy fake followings, the more those four-figure numbers will mean nothing.
Remember to think about who you put in control of your social media channels and ultimately who you choose to align your brand with.
As our strapline states, ‘PR & marketing should be a reflection of your brand’ so, what does your PR alignment say about you?
To read fabulous tips on integrating influencer marketing into your marketing plans, read our blog!