Bloggers buying followers.

This blog post is probably rather contentious, but I’ve been so angered over the past week that I needed to write down my thoughts somewhere.

Last year, Unilever (note: one of the biggest ‘consumer goods’ companies worldwide, and also one of the largest media buyers in the world) announced they were working to ‘improve the integrity, transparency of influencer marketing’ by, amongst other things, promising to never work with influencers who buy followers.

I applauded this whilst reading it at my desk – it’s great news finally for us honest bloggers.  Brands are starting to realise that, just because someone has hundreds of thousands of followers, does not mean they are all reliable, have integrity or have a genuine history of real engagement with their audience.

At the same time, I continue to see a lot of ‘influencers’ who have BOUGHT followers in the past still working on high budget campaigns with brands who seemingly don’t care.  It’s almost as if they don’t mind throwing their money down the drain!  This whole thing has really ruffled my feathers, because I simply do not understand how influencers who have bought followers have not been already outed and publicly blacklisted?  How are they ‘influencers’?  Surely they are just exploiting everyone – brands and followers alike!

I started this blog almost nine years ago now, and have worked tirelessly on growing my YouTube, Instagram, blog & Twitter feeds (full time for the past three years).  However, I still only have 64k Instagram followers.  You’d expect someone who’s been at it as long as I have to have a lot more, right?

WRONG.

It’s SO difficult to grow online at the moment.  There are incredible, talented people starting channels and accounts every day and the competition is extremely high.  But not once have I resorted to, or even considered, buying followers to give myself a boost.  I’m so sad to say that I know of Instagrammers who have done this and who are now sitting comfortably with 400k followers – with new followers and brands absolutely oblivious to, it has to be said, what amounts to blatant fraud.

Not only is this dishonest and fake, but it also makes it so much harder to judge what a normal amount of followers is!  And it makes me, who is so passionate about the business and in love with my job, feel utterly disheartened and demotivated as I work so hard to build whilst others can buy likes with no effort at the click of a button … with absolutely no negative consequences.

Okay, so maybe we can’t out these people (for fear of being seen to be merely bitchy, jealous or mean), but I do wish companies would look past follower numbers and instead focus on engagement and sale conversion.  I might not have 100k Instagram followers, but I have a real and honest relationship with my audience, who I am genuinely thankful for the support of, who trust my recommendations … and I can sleep happy knowing I’m not faking anything.

What do you think about bloggers buying followers?

Would your judgement of them change if you knew who they were?

K x

Photographs by Adorngirl (Instagram here)

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6 Comments

  1. June 29, 2018 / 6:29 pm

    It really is so frustrating to watch those who take the easy route be rewarded. Similarly I’ve been blogging for five years and have a modest following. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished but if I’m put next to someone who seemingly has more followers (which are fake) it’s so disheartening. Ultimately I think it reflects poorly on the brand. It’s easy to tell if someone’s engagement is really low next to their follower count. If brands can’t pick up on that then they look foolish!

    Really enjoyed this post! A refreshing dose of honesty on the subject. x

    LEXI LIKES

  2. Lindsey Kerr
    June 30, 2018 / 9:31 am

    I don’t really know how the world of blogging works so this is fascinating. It must be really frustrating for people like yourself who are doing a great job. Trust Unilever to be in there, one enormous, non-caring organisation. I love checking out products, getting honest opinions and a link to buy if I want. Keep up the good work.

  3. June 30, 2018 / 6:54 pm

    Brilliant post, completely agree!

    Everyone knows you’re honest and it shows in the genuine engagement you receive on all your content!

    It’s sad isn’t it, that ‘influencers’ feel that they have so little influence that they have to buy a fictional audience? I imagine it’s really frustrating to have dishonest people going for same/similar opportunities.

    At the end of the day, if an ‘influencer’ has 400k followers but doesn’t drive any sales for a brand, what is even the point? It’s not even like these bought followers will create brand awareness either. It’s a complete waste of money and time for brands.

    I also think there should be a public blacklist for these influencers as I hate to think I might be following them!

  4. June 30, 2018 / 7:56 pm

    Heck yes my judgement of them changes when I hear of bloggers buying followers! I’ve slaved over my blog for 5 years now and its nowhere near the following I would love it to be, but its AUTHENTIC and GENUINE. It is so disheartening to see brands send massive PR packages, sponsored work, and supporting influencers on Instagram and bloggers when you know for a fact they’ve bought their following. I’ve been in business for myself for over a decade, so I totally get the concept of spending money to make money, but there is only so much ‘reputation’ you can purchase…

  5. July 2, 2018 / 2:22 am

    A blogger that I like posted about how he reached a year/follower milestone (can’t remember which one) and said that ‘he’s proud of how he’s done without being tempted to buy followers” and I wanted to roll my eyes….. Is it considered to be a success that you don’t buy followers? I don’t think so… As someone who’s still new in the blogging world, I see why people buy followers, but I also prefer my own integrity more than a number and I do think that brands should do their research.

    https://thedianaedition.com

  6. July 2, 2018 / 5:25 pm

    It’s so frustrating! But then I question those brands and who’s actually outreaching to bloggers and whether they are actually looking into their engagement. It’s pretty easy to see if someone’s buying followers and I think it’s laziness that allows these influencers with fake followers to make so much money whereas honest bloggers with a smaller following but a higher engagement are just ignored!

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