Should You Buy Instagram Followers?

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Should You Buy Followers On Instagram?

The answer really goes back to your views on advertising and how you measure success. Does being the biggest make you the best? Or is there more to it?

Long before social media and the World Wide Web were so dominant, print media was a major component in many brands’ marketing budgets. And much like Super Bowl ads, an ad in a national publication, such as USA Today, would guarantee you a lot of eyeballs.

Or would it?

We hear from colleagues all the time that “advertising does nothing” for their brand. While we thoroughly disagree with that (usually it’s bad advertising that’s to blame, or the lack of time/energy/ability it takes to measure awareness and results), we understand where they’re coming from. They bought an ad, people supposedly saw it and nothing happened.

USA Today’s circulation is roughly 3 million (http://www.usatoday.com/about/). That’s a lot of eyeballs.

Or is it?

From Forbes a few years ago:

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.43.09 PMHow many times have you left your hotel room and even looked at the free paper left there?

We are not criticizing USA Today, but we’re bringing this up to set the stage for our point that metrics such as circulation maybe aren’t always as valuable as things such as engagement or particular demographic information.

Here’s an example we can call upon from our own experience with PR and editorial.

In April we a financial client in the New York Times on some changes that were going to happen that would affect home buyers. Big news and a great piece. Did that correlate to more phone calls for the client? Hard to say, there wasn’t a real call to action there since the changes are months away. But people saw it, we’re sure of that. How many? No idea.

Back in January, the same client was also featured in a regional newspaper for another, a more consumer oriented story, in a newspaper about five times smaller than the New York Times. About two months later, a regional associate in that market received a phone call from a customer regarding a very large deal.

By no means are we saying we should never call the Times again to pitch a story, but it’s interesting to see what measurably moved the needle for the client. Keep“measurably” in mind.

Ok, back to Instagram. Should you buy followers? It really depends on your goals.

On social media, there’s followers and then there’s engaged followers.

Eyeballs are nice, but eyeballs that care about your brand and are incentivized to act nicer.

Many marketing departments judge success based on impressions. Buying an ad in USA Today, while more expensive than a regional newspaper, will probably get you more impressions to show to the higher ups. That doesn’t necessarily correlate to actions, awareness and what most brands really want… sales.

Buying followers on Instagram can make your brand look more popular than it is and as a result cause others to consider it to be somewhat important, which may cause others to follow and hopefully, engage with you.

However, we have to strongly recommend judging the success of a social media campaign strictly on the growth of followers alone. If that’s your criteria for judging success, then you’re driving down the wrong street.

What’s the best way to grow your presence on social media? Advertising can help you get fans (again, advertising works, if it’s the right kind), but above all, you need to have great content that people actually want to engage with and share with their network.

All it takes is strategic thinking and typically, a great deal of effort. This is why companies have social media managers with decades+ years of experience in strategic marketing and, unfortunately, why sometimes our proposals for social media programs are as much or more than in fee than our traditional PR proposals.

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