Why I Refuse to ‘Buy’ my Twitter and Facebook Followers

I wouldn’t say I’m an angry person, passionate is more of the way I’d describe it.  And there are certain things I’m passionate about. One of these, is organic social media.

I get so angry seeing these people that you can buy Twitter followers from.  And you can buy Facebook likes, or Instagram followers. But these people don’t actually ‘like’ you or want to ‘follow’ you.  Hell they might not even be real people! It’s a sure fire way to spam your account with fake followers.

Why am I so against it you might ask? Well, I’m not going to lie, but I bust a ball with my social media. Like this website? Built it myself.  Love my blog posts? Write them myself. Enjoy my Facebook account? I do that myself too.  I am the ultimate one-man-band.  Maybe that’s my downfall.

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t want a million likes or followers just because.  I want to inspire a million likers and followers.

If that isn’t enough, then how about a cautionary tale?

After doing some freelance work, I had a little spare change to use as an experiment. I wasn’t the sort of person to rush into buying followers, likers or anything like that but I was curious to see how it would work. And I thought £20 was an acceptable sum to waste – after all, it wasn’t going to be leaving my account on this freelancing website, so it wasn’t technically my money I was spending.

After recently starting up my Instagram – I thought this would be a good place to start. So I bought 1,000 Instagram followers. I was insistent on using somebody based in the UK, I didn’t want the complications of a language barrier with someone in Pakistan.

Now I did ask him to clarify that this would be a targeted campaign and the followers would be genuine people. He confirmed this saying they were from a community of legitimate accounts that follower each other.

This sounded fair enough, so I was happy to proceed.

And sure to his word, within hours, I was receiving hundreds of followers but when I clicked on their accounts, there was normally only one picture. I checked a few more and a few more. Some of them hadn’t uploaded any pictures. So these weren’t ‘active’ instagrammers, just shell accounts. Great.

I wasn’t happy with the outcome and when I complained to him, he happily offered me another service free of charge. I wasn’t likely to pass that up and used to opportunity to boost by YouTube subscribers.

YouTube was a different story and all of my followers had active accounts which was great, just not the kind of accounts I was looking for. Nothing remotely bookish in sight.

*sigh*

I resigned myself to my own stupidity and thought ‘I can live with this’. That’s when I noticed the YouTube subscriber number start to fall. The subscribers I’d paid for were now unsubscribing from my channel! Hardly fair in the grand scheme of things, considering the seller expressly said that I wouldn’t need to return follows in order to maintain numbers…lies.

So it’s safe to say things aren’t looking too good for my Instagram and YouTube accounts – although this is a good point for me to realise that I wouldn’t be doing the same with my Twitter of Facebook (my main social media accounts).

But what could I do?

My YouTube account – this was always an experiment from the beginning, I wanted to see if branching out into the bookstagram world was worth it.  Turns out I don’t have the time or the skills in which to do this. Although it is a little fun, I much prefer taking photos on Instagram and writing. Unfortunately I’m a writer not a vlogger.

So largely I’m not too bothered. The numbers are good and the occasional views that come with it are really just an added bonus. I can live with it being as it is and I will upload occasionally just for something different on the blog.

My Instagram account – Now this was an area of concern because I really do love my Instagram account and I know how ‘fake followers’ can really damage a reputation. My number of followers wasn’t increasing and the ratio of followers to interaction varied greatly. Don’t get me wrong, the level of interaction I was receiving was already above what I’d anticipated which was amazing, but there seemed to be something holding me back. I couldn’t grow my fan base no matter how many pictures I posted or how hard I tried.

That’s when I decided to do something drastic. A Twitter audit for Instagram if you please. It took me a while on Google before I found the website www.igexorcist.com and immediately knew that I had what I was looking for. At the click of a button, I would be able to force unfollow all the ‘fake followers’ I had. Amazing.

However, the system isn’t perfect. It works on the interaction levels received from the accounts that were following me. So although I had only bought 1,000 followers, the website had identified 1,100 that were untrustworthy based on their interaction levels with me over the past 180 days. Seeing this as my only hope and not having the time to individually go through the 1,100 subscribers, I clicked the go button and let it to the dirty work. At a rate of 10 subscribers an hour, I gradually began to see my following drop. It was disheartening to say the least but before I knew it, I was receiving more followers than I would normally. This could be a coincidence but I was hopeful.

After being purged of my ‘fake followers’ I felt a little better and could finally look at my Instagram knowing that I hadn’t forged or faked anything. I still have the same challenge as I did before but this time I will be comforted knowing that those following me are real people with a real interest in my brand.

I would like to mention at this point that the idea to buy followers was first suggested in a ‘How-To Instagram’ book that I bought. If you’re interested in buying followers please do be careful, once they’re there, they’re hard to get rid of.

My advice is to not even go down this road. There is no satisfaction in it. You are better investing your money in quality content, and the occasional advert.

If you want advice on your social media or marketing, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at natashacorme[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk. I’m also happy to give a quick review of your current branding free of charge. Happy New Year

    21 Comments

  1. kimberlywenzler 4th January 2016 at 12:46 pm Reply

    Thank you for this information. I was unaware we could buy followers, though I wouldn’t do it. Like you, I’d like to grow my following organically and it seems to be working so far.
    Your blog is so informative and helpful. Thank you!

    • Natasha Orme 5th January 2016 at 8:50 am Reply

      Hi Kimberly, I’m glad it’s helped and hopefully will prevent you from falling in the same trap!

  2. brmaycock 4th January 2016 at 2:11 pm Reply

    I also hate the ‘follow me and I’ll follow you’ brigade, in fact I unfollow as quickly as possible if I see that line!Social media is all about finding like minded people,and if yiu can help them or they can help you then it’s a bonus!

    • Natasha Orme 4th January 2016 at 5:15 pm Reply

      Agreed, I can’t be doing with Twitter users who simply follow you just to receive a follow in return. I use some handy tools to avoid falling in these traps and keep my social media channels spam free!

  3. philosophoenix 4th January 2016 at 5:01 pm Reply

    I also champion organic connection via social media. Sometimes, I feel a little slow and out of date, but I find that numbers and creating viable, productive online communitas aren’t in the same category. I block the follow mongers…because I like this, right here. For me, five or six real people beats the hell out of a million followers.

    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Natasha Orme 4th January 2016 at 5:14 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you and I hope my experience can be a lesson and encourgamenet to what you’re already doing. Social media, done right, is more rewarding in the long run…

  4. The Story Reading Ape 4th January 2016 at 6:07 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    A cautionary tale and a resolution from Natasha ?

  5. Katrina 4th January 2016 at 6:15 pm Reply

    Thanks, for this, Natasha. I get periodic follows from people offering to sell Twitter followers and wondered how it worked. Sometimes Twitter feels like a playground game, but at the same time I’ve made some genuine friends from it.

    • Natasha Orme 5th January 2016 at 8:51 am Reply

      Yes, Twitter is a dangerous minefield of fake accounts, spammers and sellers. It’s sometimes hard to maintain the integrity it was originally designed for.

  6. Danny the Dog 4th January 2016 at 6:23 pm Reply

    Very informative. Thank you for posting it. I think it will save mere humans a lot of grief. I, on the other hand, don?t have to buy anyone?s love. Everybody already loves me!

  7. islandeditions 4th January 2016 at 6:33 pm Reply

    I go a step further on Twitter and block anyone following me who is only trying to sell me more followers. I don’t report them, but Twitter takes blocking seriously enough that I believe they shut down any accounts they deem to be acting against their regulations as to how the site is to be used (i.e. not for direct selling). I was so angry at one point that I wrote this blog post: https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/why-i-may-not-follow-you-on-twitter/
    The unfortunate part of the new publishing business as it’s evolving is that the only people who seem to be making any money at it are those offering services to authors, and not the actual authors themselves who are writing the books. As you wisely say, Natasha, don’t even go down this road!

    Sorry to hear that you went through this experience, but thanks writing for the excellent blog post that came out of it.

  8. APsychoBabbles 4th January 2016 at 6:34 pm Reply

    Thank you, this is a great post.

    I always follow back on my Twitter account but I try to go through my followers and weed out the fake ones.

    As for Instagram, I have to admit, it’s a little neglected but I couldn’t imagine buying followers.

    I would rather have 20 followers that interact than have 200 that do nothing.

    • Natasha Orme 5th January 2016 at 8:53 am Reply

      I’m glad to hear that your cautionary at least. There’s a great website I use called SocialBro (it’s free) that I use to monitor my followers/followings. It let’s you see who is posting 50 times a day (normally spammers) who are being flagged as spam accounts and who’s unfollowed you because they were trying to get their numbers up, it’s a great tool!

  9. floridaborne 4th January 2016 at 7:43 pm Reply

    I have friends helping me through the brambles of social media who warned me to stay away from sites that want me to buy followers. Knowing that each of my readers are real people means more than quantity.

    Thanks for a great post.

    ps: My text reader stumbled over pnmce when it read your article to me (I think it’s supposed to be “once”). Do you have a cat helping you type, too.

  10. The Coastal Crone 4th January 2016 at 10:06 pm Reply

    I learn something every day – did not know you could buy followers! My blog is a simple one not worth buying followers for! Good luck in all your endeavors in 2016!

  11. D. Wallace Peach 5th January 2016 at 3:15 am Reply

    I never really understood the whole buying-followers-thing anyway. Numbers don’t really mean anything if there’s no substance behind them. I can say that I have 50,000 followers, but if there’s no interaction or relationship, what’s the point? Thanks for the info, hopefully fewer people will end up in a mess.

  12. jazzfeathers 5th January 2016 at 10:04 am Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing. I know buying followers is possible, I get tons of those propositions on Twitter, but I’ve never even thought about it. In fact, I’m a bit weary of anything you buy. I had a couple of very negative experiences (one on Etsy, one with a paying campaign for Kickstarter) that truely showed me how yes, winning your followers over is hard job and time-consuming, but that’s the only way that’s worth.

    Especially the Kickstarter campaign was a disheartening experience. I was helping with the campaign at the publisher I work for. We had lauched the translation of a book a week before, and because we weren’t seeing any significant partecipation, my boss decided to try a paying campaign. It was still kind of an experiment, my boss chose an economic option running for three days. The person said he was going to promote our campaign on his Twitter account (some 7000 followers) and different FB groups with a few thousends followers each.
    Know how many clicks we had? ZERO.
    It was very educational for me. It taught me that, no matter how many people can see your message, if they aren’t interested it’s just like you aren’t sending out that message. Simple as that.

    • Natasha Orme 5th January 2016 at 1:30 pm Reply

      Unfortunately with the boom of social media, there are more things like this happening every day and people forget that no matter how much money they throw at it, social media is not only unpredictable but you can’t force your way into it. I’m sorry you had to go through this – you are a hundred percent right, if the message isn’t great then no-one will be interested irrelevant of the monetary input.

  13. mariceljimenez 5th January 2016 at 4:30 pm Reply

    Great advice! I too am weary of buying followers and whenever I get a follow on my twitter from people offering 1,000s of followers I just ignore them and know they won’t be following me for long. In my case, some of the best investments have been Amazon ads. Currently I’m looking into Google ads to see if it will be worth it. Perhaps payed promotion through Facebook…

  14. carolynswriting 6th January 2016 at 5:09 am Reply

    Great post & I fully agree – a friend in the games industry kept pushing me to buy followers but I don’t believe that it suits authors or the writing community. I’ve grown my accounts organically & have thoroughly enjoyed the interactions with authors, readers, bloggers, the publishing community in general – it’s been a lot of fun & I’ve picked up a lot of info, especially via Twitter. I’ve already made a real-life friend & hope to meet some more this year at various book events 🙂 Grow organically, yay!

    • Natasha Orme 6th January 2016 at 1:12 pm Reply

      That’s great to here – keep at it!

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