followers

Can’t Buy Me Followers

In December, Instagram announced Selena Gomez as the most followed celebrity on the platform with 103 million followers. As a small business owner, I could only imagine having a following that large on my business’s social platforms, and what it could mean for my brand awareness. Social media, as we have been led to believe, is a numbers game.

Recently, I was alerted to the fact that websites promising fake social media followers exist. I can see the appeal. Who doesn’t want to have more followers? Having more followers generally means you have a popular account, and in turn, a popular product or service. However, using a website to generate or purchase fake followers is a faux pas in the marketing world, and here’s why:

First and foremost using a third party source to gain followers is against the code of conduct of most social media websites, whether you pay for the service or not. For example, Twitter outlines in their rules and regulations that any accounts found to have used a third party source with the intention of gaining fake followers will be shut down. One particular problem associated with these websites that promise followers is that they have access to your account and therefore can easily compromise it at any time. These websites have the ability to spam your account and your followers, which just happens to be another practice that will get you suspended from a social media channel.

Rules against these websites have been around since these fake follower generators have been, and they’re becoming especially necessary today. With all the fake news going around, social media platforms are cracking down on the amount of fake content shared on their channels, and one way to do that is by eliminating accounts that appear to have purchased followers or spread spam-related content.

To that extent, it’ not difficult to find accounts with fake followers. “Ghost Accounts” are easy to spot because they have strange names, follow a lot of people with minimal followers themselves and only post spam-related content.

As a consumer, I follow a number of brands on their social media channels. Say I go on to check out my favourite retailer’s page and I look into their followers. If I find a bunch of empty spam accounts, I’ll know they’d have likely purchased or subscribed to fake followers, and my trust in this brand will have almost diminished. While every brand aspires to have a lot of followers or likes on social media, deceiving your audience into thinking you have more than you really do positions you as untrustworthy.

In a previous blog I discussed the importance of Google Analytics. If a large majority of your followers are coming from third party sources or unlawful social media practices, the metrics will be thrown off. As a marketer, I adjust marketing plans based on the data I see from analytics, so if the numbers aren’t accurate, it’s difficult to come up with effective marketing strategies. In order to see a return on investment with social media, you need to be able to get your message across to the right people and create authentic content that will engage them. It’s hard to get engagement when your audience is 90% spam bots.

One thing I suggest to my clients when they want to generate more engagement and followers in a short amount of time is to boost content. Most social media platforms offer businesses an option to reach wider, more targeted audiences at a cost. Boosting is an authentic way to encourage people to check out your brand.

I have been working in this industry long enough to have seen the tricks that can be used to try and engage audiences and attract followers, but as a professional marketer and business owner I always want to provide my clients with honest marketing services that follow best practices. As much as we all like to see high numbers of followers on our social sites, if the followers were generated by a spambot site, then what value do they really have to your business? In marketing as in business, honesty is always the best policy.

 

 

 

 

 

Case Study: Scotiabank’s Social Media Strategy

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 9.47.25 AMCMOs and business owners are always asking to validate not only the effectiveness of social media, but also the necessity of having a social media strategy. This week I wanted to highlight an unlikely social media channel and how it has been able to target and grow its engagement amongst its key audience.

Enter Scotiabank. Its recent success with their social media strategy using Instagram has helped them specifically target university-aged students 18-24, an audience often touted as the most difficult demographic to engage.

Instagram is often thought of as the photosharing app used for family and friends only, but things are changing for business applications as Instagram now boasts 15 times more engagement than Facebook, Twitter or Google+. What was once a simple photosharing app is now being used as a key sales channel.

In the world of social media, Instagram is relatively new and as an emerging channel, it enjoys the same cache with younger Canadians that Facebook enjoyed several years ago.

With this in mind, Scotiabank, in a strategic yet bold move, launched its Instagram channel in 2013 and has garnered 897 followers to date and is still growing. The channel is unique in that is allows for the ability to tailor content to any kind of youth-oriented theme.

The decision to use this channel was based on the need to use a relevant and extremely flexible platform to reach their target audience. Scotiabank feels their decision really gives them a lot of opportunity in terms of their messaging and making their brand unique by being on the forefront of providing content in a medium that is relevant to them.

The ultimate flexibility of this channel allowed Scotiabank’s Instagram channel “Scotia_gram”, to introduce a series of “life hacks” for students headed back to school. They included tips such as storing necklaces in straws to avoid tangling, and using an old cardboard box to create a shirt folder.

As a result, “likes” for Scotia_gram’s posts have increased just over 99%, and comments have jumped 22.3% since the “life hacks” were first introduced. The account has also gained just under 300 new followers in the same period.

This case study is a great example of how sometimes we need to think a little bit “outside the box” in terms of choosing channels to deliver our strategy to specifically target our audience.

After reading this case study would you consider using Instagram for your business, and if so, how? Do you feel Scotiabank is on to something here, or would another social media channel have been equally successful for their strategy?