Marketing, Public Relations
January 17, 2020
The dark world of fake social media popularity
The dark world of fake social media popularity

By Candace Huntly

Have you ever posted to Instagram only to check every 5 or 10 minutes to see if anyone has liked your photo? Have you ever looked at the Instagram profile of your favourite influencers and wished your life looked more like theirs than your own? As a brand or influencer, do you ever wish that your social media following would just grow wildly overnight?

These are all things that plague social media users, influencers, and brands every day. There is so much noise out there on social media because everyone wants to be seen. Of course, we throw statements like “fake it till you make it” into the mix and you end up with people buying followers and engagement to try to appear more popular than they actually are.

It’s time we re-educate ourselves about what’s really important on social media to get away from fake social media popularity.

How to spot when someone is faking

It’s important, especially when it comes to influencer marketing and brand partnerships, to be able to spot when someone is faking their social media popularity. But it’s important to do a bit of extra work before embarking on any sort of partnerships to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

For brands, if you are looking to work with influencers, you want to make sure that they can help you to reach your goals. With the number of influencers out there who aren’t completely truthful, it becomes harder to find the right influencers to work with. You need to educate yourself on what the important factors are when it comes to influencer marketing. For example, I have talked at length about how bigger isn’t always better when it comes to influencer marketing. A large following doesn’t automatically mean an influencer is trusted. And it certainly doesn’t mean an influencer has the kind of engagement you should be looking for.

Here are the things that will help you figure out if someone is the real deal or not:

  • Genuine comments: Are the comments genuine or do they seem really generic and unrelated? A bunch of comments like “Great shot!”, “Cute!”, and “Nice pic!” are generally from automated bots that you either pay for or are spam. Also have a peek at the last 10 to 20 posts to see if it is the same group of people commenting over and over in the same ways.
  • Real likes: While Instagram removed total likes counts, you can still see who liked a post. A quick scroll through the list of names and profile pictures will give you a good sense of whether a profile is real or not.
  • Real followers: A fake follower will often have one or more of the following: random typos in the name, random numbers in their name, the generic egg profile image instead of an actual picture, low post count – we’re talking one random image on the feed, and often seems to have nothing in common with the person they are following. Most social platforms are starting to crack down on fake followers, but it’s definitely an uphill battle.

Keep in mind that while you are looking for influencers you can trust, your audience is also looking at you under the same microscope. It’s not worth it to fake your own brand popularity. There is no replacement for good strategy, great content, and meaningful engagement.

Why should brands and influencers keep it real

In a world where your customers and potential customers are armed with more information and the power to choose between an increasing number of options available to them, honesty is always the best policy. Also, with the increasing conversations and research studies about how social media is directly tied to mental health issues, you don’t want to be a part of the problem.

Knowing what we know about social media and what can happen if your target audience doesn’t trust you as a brand, here are some things to remember about keeping it real on social media.

  • Quality is way more important than quantity: Find influencers that have higher engagement rather than just searching for influencers with longer lists of followers. There are influencers that I work with that have fewer followers but I know their reviews will always be honest – and the interactions with their community proves that they appreciate the honesty.
  • Prioritize meaningful connections above everything: Remember that social media should be social. The conversations you have with followers – whether they are customers, influencers, or other brands – should drive your overall strategy.
  • Don’t let social media become too commercialized: Let the influencers you are working with create content that is honest and true to them and look at each transaction on social media as reciprocal rather than always selling something. It always comes back to relationship building.
  • Buying followers and likes will only hurt your credibility in the end: In short, people always find out and once they do they will never forget.

There is no silver bullet – no magic carpet that will carry you to successful growth on social media. You may be tempted to pay for followers and engagement because it’s so easy to do it, but if that opportunity every tempts you, best to avoid it. Not only are you feeding into a toxic social media culture rather than fostering a positive channel for people to interact with your brand, but you could actually do more harm than good to your brand reputation.

If you are looking for social growth and you’re not sure how to get started, or your social growth seems to have hit a slump with all of the changes to the algorithms, book a FREE 20-MINUTE CONSULTATION. No strings attached. Just click here.

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