If you’re on social media, and Instagram more specifically, you may have been recently called out! Exposed! Embarrassed! Starting back in November of 2018, Instagram began removing likes and followers that seemed fake. As in, the likes and followers were the work of purchased automated bots or apps that didn’t represent real people. Instagram doesn’t like inauthenticity and doesn’t want you to buy bots followers and likes. For this reason, they’re going to start clearing out some accounts!
Why buy bots followers and likes?
Why buy fake followers and likes in the first place? If you’re a plastic surgeon like me, there’s seemingly no point in using bots to create fake likes or followers because none of those fake people will ever become real patients!
Even though I have never bought fake engagement via bots and the like, I think the reason others try it has to do with the Instagram algorithm. The idea is that your post will be shown to more real people if it appears that it initially receives a lot of engagement. So if you have a lot of bots and fake followers that immediately like a new post, the hope is that you’d fool Instagram into showing your post to even more real Instagram users. And that would result in more real engagement. This may have been true at one point. But Instagram continues to improve its artificial intelligence to recognize this kind of inauthentic activity.
As an aside, in our practice, we “work” this algorithm in a more legitimate way by utilizing “Like Pods.” These are made up of real people that will initially like and comment on our posts, hoping that will show increased engagement and a resulting greater reach. I don’t know that it leads to a greater reach, however, it is nice to spark engagement from real people. But I digress.
The problem with relying on bots
Now that Instagram is removing those robotic likes and followers, some Instagram accounts are going to lose 100s or 1000s of likes and followers overnight. This could be slightly embarrassing if their “influence” is now called into question. If you go from thousands of likes to 50, followers will realize the discrepancy is due to fake followers and likes.
Increasing engagement with real people
There are ways to increase engagement with real people without having to resort to buying bots. Aside from the Like Pods mentioned above, there are also “giveaways.” These are contests that followers can enter if they like, follow and tell friends about your page.
Sure this could be considered buying someone’s interest but whatever, at least they’re real people that Instagram won’t delete. And keep in mind, after the contest ends, those real followers may unfollow you.
Giveaways are big business for companies that run them. For example, Scott Disick, an adjacent member of the Kardashian clan works with Curated Businesses. As you can see in this example, Kylie Kardashian did a handbag giveaway in May 2019 in conjunction with Disick and Curated Businesses. The idea is that if you liked and followed all 70 people that were “sponsoring” the giveaway, you could win all of the handbags plus $20,000. Where’s the financial benefit to Kardashian, Disick and Curated Businesses? Word is that the 70 sponsors each paid $25,000 to be part of the giveaway.
And what’s the benefit to the 70 sponsors? More real followers leads to more brand awareness. While some of those followers will unfollow the sponsors, some followers may like what they see and become a client to one of the sponsors. For example, one plastic surgeon that participated in that May giveaway grew from 10.9K to 230,819K! Sure his follower count fell back to 149K about 10 days later. But I bet, somewhere in those 149,000 followers is a few patients that will make his $25,000 investment worthwhile!
Everyone will tell you that you should “simply” grow your following through engaging content. But that usually takes longer than our short attention spans and patience will allow. So consider Like Pods and giveaways. Whatever you do, don’t buy bots follower and likes, because if your following disappears overnight, you’ll have some explaining to do!