Why Authenticity Wins: The Perils of Buying Fake Followers and Engagements

In the realm of digital marketing, social media reigns supreme as a potent tool for brand promotion and engagement. To harness its power, marketers and publishers increasingly turn to social media marketing panels, offering a wide range of services to amplify their online presence.

But, lurking beneath the convenience of these panels is a temptation that could spell disaster for your online accounts: buying fake followers and engagements. In this article, we’ll delve into the growing trend of social media marketing panels and passionately make the case against purchasing fake followers and engagements.

The Emergence of Social Media Marketing Panels

Social media marketing panels, also known as SMM panels, have risen in popularity as a comprehensive solution for enhancing a brand’s online footprint. These panels provide marketers with an array of services, including content creation, scheduling, and analytics, streamlining the management of multiple social media accounts from a single dashboard. Moreover, they often offer precise targeting options to help businesses connect with their desired audience efficiently.

The allure of SMM panels is undeniable, making them an attractive option for brands and influencers. However, an alarming number of these panels now peddle services that enable users to acquire fake followers, likes, comments, and shares. While this might appear to be a shortcut to a thriving online presence, the consequences are dire.

How to spot those who use it

Spotting accounts with fake followers involves closely examining several key indicators. Look out for the following signs on their accounts:

  • Sudden and inconsistent spikes in follower numbers
  • Inconsistent engagement-to-follower ratio – a large number of followers with disproportionately low engagement is a red flag.
  • Follower traits – Examine follower profiles for common traits like empty profiles, generic usernames, or a lack of quality posts. Additionally, check for irrelevant or foreign followers, scrutinize engagement comments for generic responses, and utilize online tools for deeper analysis.
If you see a Philippines-based account with a post about a local event and the majority of its engagement coming from Indian-based accounts, is the engagement real or not?

Keeping an eye on unusual activity patterns, the following-to-follower ratio, content quality, and engagement trends over time can help you identify accounts with fake followers, ensuring you engage with authentic and credible influencers and profiles.

Is it worth the try?

It allured us so much that we even tried these services over a year ago to see how it went, so you don’t have to. We signed up for one of these SMM panels found online, and were surprised to see that you don’t have to pay much to gain online footing.

  • Instagram Followers – as low as PHP 22 per 1000 followers
  • Instagram Likes – as low as PHP 9.2 for 1,000 likes on a single post
  • Facebook Followers for as low as PHP 48 for 1,000 followers
  • Facebook Reactions for as low as PHP 52 for 1000 likes on a single post
You can even choose the type of followers you can get with your account, as well as average times you can notice people following you – most hasty people use the fastest options. Photo screen capped from an SMM panel website offering paid social media engagement services at a fraction of a price you pay with normal advertising.

Payment method is also accessible as it requires local eWallet apps to top-up. In our experiment, we added followers on our pages, added engagements to some posts and monitored them over the course of a year.

The end result? Pretty bad. Here’s why I think you should avoid using this at all costs when you try to build your brand:

  1. It erodes Trust: Authenticity is the cornerstone of success in the digital era. When users discover an account with an inflated number of fake followers and engagements, trust in the content and the brand behind it evaporates. Genuine engagement is the life force of social media, and counterfeiting it can permanently mar your reputation.
  2. Decreased Visibility and Engagement: Social media algorithms are calibrated to prioritize content that resonates with real audiences. When you buy fake followers and engagements, your content is less likely to reach genuine followers, resulting in a decrease in overall engagement metrics. Your posts may languish in users’ feeds, leading to a drop in organic reach.

    In the succeeding posts after we did several services from the SMM panel, we saw a decline in overall engagement. The only way to recover organic engagement is to once again start from scratch – posting continuously and doing promotion the right way by availing Meta ads.
  3. Platform Consequences: Social media platforms are intensifying their crackdown on fraudulent accounts and engagement. Buying fake followers and engagements can lead to repercussions like shadow banning, account suspension, or even permanent expulsion from the platform. These penalties can prove disastrous for your online presence and business.

    Little do you know, but the consequences for using these platforms are just as bad as what you think. Which leads to….
  4. Wasteful Expenditure: Investing in fake followers and engagements is a significant squandering of resources. Instead of directing your budget toward legitimate marketing strategies that foster long-term growth, you’re effectively throwing money into a vacuum, building an insubstantial online presence that contributes no real value to your brand.

    You’re also being sucked into an endless cycle of buying more followers when social media websites do periodic wipeouts of bot accounts, so you can just maintain your previously purchased numbers that people may have already seen. This is very evident with our Instagram account, which has lost over 3,000 followers over the course of six months from the date we bought followers for the page.
  5. Missed Opportunities: Authentic engagement and a loyal following can unlock doors to collaborations, partnerships, and sponsorships. Brands are more inclined to partner with influencers and accounts boasting genuine audiences, rendering the purchase of fake followers a barrier to accessing lucrative opportunities.

Verdict: Don’t. Please don’t.

The ascent of social media marketing panels has undeniably revolutionized online brand management. However, it’s paramount to wield these platforms responsibly and ethically. Purchasing fake followers and engagements may yield fleeting benefits, but it ultimately erodes credibility, tarnishes reputation, and invites serious repercussions on social media platforms.

In the digital age, cultivating a bona fide, engaged audience must take center stage in any social media marketing strategy. Authenticity and trust are priceless commodities in the online sphere, and they cannot be acquired through shortcuts. Rather than resorting to quick fixes, channel your resources and effort into crafting top-notch content, fostering audience engagement, and forging meaningful connections on social media. Over time, these endeavors will yield far superior rewards than any number of fake followers or engagements ever could.

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Carl writes for WalasTech when he's not working full-time. Give him tips and/or leads at [email protected].