June 02, 2017
Andrea Luhman Guarino

The Dark Side of Social

Growing a following on social media can be a long and difficult process, especially without a social strategy set in place and ongoing measurement and evaluation. For businesses and individuals seeking fast results, it may even be tempting to take part in the dark side of social.

These “dark” practices include purchasing followers or using automation bots to artificially grow your Instagram and other social accounts overnight.

Buying followers on Instagram and other platforms requires users to link their account to a service, provide payment, and watch their audience grow. While it can be cheap, with many services charging less than $10 per 100 followers, in most cases the new followers are made up of inactive and spam accounts that have been taken over by bots.

Automation bots, primarily used on Instagram and Twitter, are social accounts that automatically like, comment, and follow on your business’ behalf based on designated hashtags. These bots are well known for leaving a trail of unrelated and awkward comments on Instagram posts that happen to use a triggered hashtag.

Purchasing followers and using programmed bots can have devastating effects on your business’ social media presence. Here are the top four reasons why you should avoid the dark side of social media.

1. Purchased followers have no value
Followers that were earned through crafting a thoughtful strategy, setting goals, and sharing engaging content are valuable because they are your customers and clients. They started following your business because they are interested in engaging with your updates and business’ services. On the other hand, purchased followers only exist to inflate the total number of followers, and will mostly likely never engage with your social posts, or convert a sale or inquire about a service.

2. It negatively affects overall engagement
Purchasing followers can also have a detrimental effect on your social engagement. As social algorithms evolve and change, organic reach is declining. The more unengaged your followers are (especially if they have no real interest in your business), the more your overall engagement rate goes down. In turn, this can decrease the visibility of your posts in the news feed and cause your hard-earned followers to see less of your content.

3. It hurts the trustworthiness and credibility of your business
Online reputations play a key part in the success of a business. Using automated bots and buying followers can hurt the credibility of your business, especially in a time where customers are expecting transparency in all levels of the brands they interact with. These dark practices can be easily spotted by ingenuine comments on posts through the use of bots, and by evaluating follower profiles for spammy and insufficient profile information. Most importantly, the distrust that can result from these practices can be translated from social media to the overall reputation of your business.

4. Violates Terms of Use and your account can be shut down
The use of bots to comment or follow, and buying followers is against the terms of service of most major social media platforms. These practices are considered spam and violate other terms of use by collecting login information. Use of these services can result in your social media accounts being shut down and blacklisted with no way to revive them.

There’s a better way to grow and manage your social media accounts. Contact us to talk about your needs and goals and find out how your business can leverage social media advertising.

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