Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had many discussions with other bloggers on the huge topic of: is it okay for bloggers to cheat the system?
Whenever you post your opinion online you’re always opening yourself up to people disagreeing or labelling you as being ‘negative’ but this topic is something I feel really strongly about, as do many others. I’m aware if you put this into perspective there are far more other things going on in the world that are more important but everyone is allowed a moan sometimes. It’s still an issue that is going on today and one that is really not fair.
You might be wondering whether you’re a blogger, PR or neither – what is this whole ‘buying followers’ situation and how does someone do it? Let me explain. Some of the accounts you follow on Instagram are fake asf to put it bluntly. That person you follow who jets off to a different country every few months with a brand? They might be buying followers. Oh and the person who gets sent the whole of Cult Beauty regularly who you envy every time they do a PR unboxing? They might also be buying them too.
No matter the social platform, you can buy all sorts of engagement ranging from likes, comments and even retweets. I’ll admit I used to be pretty blind to it. It’s something that doesn’t even cross your mind until more people talk about it then you start to dig a little deeper and find yourself raging because the person who you’ve followed for years is actually cheating. It’s happened to me way too many times and it’s so disappointing because you’re stuck between – do I unfollow them or do I still continue following because I love their content?! But then you know it won’t be the same anymore because you know they’re cheating the system and it causes all sorts of dilemmas. Lesson here is: just don’t do it.
How to spot this
An easy way of spotting suspicious activity is by typing in Social Blade on Google and having a look on there. You can search Twitter accounts, Instagram and even YouTube. I’m sure you’ve all heard of this website before. Bare in mind, it’s easy to misinterpret the data and you might want to note that before publicly calling anyone out. Social Blade shows how many followers someone gains in a day and how many people they unfollow. It can be hard to know what exactly you’re looking for when you first go on it as there’s data everywhere. People like to play the follow and unfollow game which means they will follow you, then unfollow, follow, unfollow again… as you can see it’s bloody annoying. They do this in order to try and gain followers but it never works! It just annoys people and makes you look like a dick so don’t do it. You can spot this on Social Blade if everyday they’re unfollowing a lot of accounts (the – red number) but as I said, don’t jump to conclusions straight away as lots of people have clear outs on Instagram and unfollow some people but that doesn’t always mean they’re doing anything suspicious.
To the left is a screenshot of data shown on Social Blade of someone’s Instagram account. This person has been playing the follow/unfollow game with me since last October!
You can see here straight away that there’s no question about whether this is suspicious or not. Unfollowing 300 accounts a day and following 400? Get a hobby… or a life even.
Why does it matter?
Some might roll their eyes and say why does it matter but let me put it like this. If you’re constantly working hard, producing content, battling along with the shite Instagram algorithm (sorry to mention the A word that we’re all sick of) and growing your following organically, whilst those who are buying followers are jetting off to the Maldives four times a year, working with top brands and getting paid hundreds, it would annoy you too. It’s fraud simple as. These people when contacted by brands will say something along the lines of ”I have 100k combined followers therefore my fee is £500 per post” (made these figures up) and the brand agrees because they believe what they see. PR’s – you’re essentially paying this blogger to advertise to bots and fake people and throwing money away. Wouldn’t you rather spend a bit more time looking closely first and then choosing who you want to work with? Do you want to be associated with someone who is cheating and lying in order to gain free products, free holidays and money?
It feels like these people are automatically taking an elevator to the top of success which isn’t fair. I love blogging, producing content and engaging with real people but this side to blogging really does annoy me because I’m seeing it on a daily basis. For those labelling this as ”bullying”, or ”drama” or ”being negative”, you really do have to question why are you not talking about how wrong this is? Honesty is key in this industry. It almost seems like it’s easy these days to grab a laptop, make yourself a profile, buy yourself a few thousand followers and you’re sorted. Soon enough they’ll have a years supply of makeup landing on your doorstep and you’ll be snapping away on a yacht sipping a mojito in no time.
I don’t see these people ever stopping. The more they get away with it, the longer they’ll do it and the better they become at hiding it. Sounds just like a fuckboy doesn’t it?
In terms of what happens next, it’s hard to know what to do. If you call someone up on it you get labelled a bully and if you say nothing you just get angry every time you see them added to yet again another PR list. The longer nothing is said though, the more people jump on this bandwagon because they think it’s okay to do so because no one’s telling them to stop! I can guarantee you now we all have a list of the same names of people we know who are cheats.
If you’re reading this and you know you buy followers, stop and ask yourself why. Wouldn’t you rather have genuine followers who interact with you rather than a bunch of fake ones who never do anything? I know which one I’d prefer. We all see you, it’s very obvious these days to spot. Just hold your hands up, apologise and stop playing because the game is up. What are you going to do if one day you wake up and Instagram & Twitter have decided to remove all fake engagement including followers? Talk about being publicly humiliated! Awks..
Most importantly, if you’re a genuine blogger working hard, we see you too but for all the right reasons. Keep doing what you do and keep producing amazing content even if it’s not seen by everyone. Talking about things like this doesn’t make you a negative person, it makes you real. You have a right to be annoyed about something that impacts this industry.