I’ve never bought followers. But I’ve thought about it, and realistically I’m sure I’m not the only blogger who has.
But recently I’m seeing this hugely venomous reaction to people who have bought followers on social media- it seems Twitter’s top 3 most hated topics are currently Fascism, Theresa May’s kitten heels and follower buying, and I find this really unfair.
Don’t get me wrong, is it annoying when you work for years to build up your blogging audience and then some tween with a few posts reviewing shitty Primark makeup gets 10k views overnight because she’s bought her WordPress followers? Yah. But is there anything inherently wrong with that? Well, not really.
Often people are criticised for buying followers due to the belief that they haven’t put in effort so it’s ‘cheating’ but this is a massive assumption. While there are probably lots of people who do buy followers because they have zero patience and dodgy content that no one wants to read, there will also be lots of people who work so hard on their blogs and they just want a numerical reward which reflects how much effort they’re putting in. I mean, are you really going so spend actual, physical, real money on some website that you don’t give a shite about? There has to be some foundation of effort and love there in order for you to care enough to spend your dollar in the first place. For me, I feel like I would be completely justified in buying followers due to the amount of time and research I put into my content, photos and promotion- I just personally choose not to because I prefer to grow my following myself. But who am I to judge someone who has a different preference?
I can majorly see the appeal. I’ve been blogging for 2 years and still my followers aren’t large enough to start contacting brands or earning money via advertising slots, but if I bought followers it would draw more attention to my blog and enable me to do these things. And that would be pretty cool. Yes I would know, deep down, that I didn’t necessarily earn my followers but that isn’t to say that I wouldn’t deserve them.
In an ideal world your following would reflect how hard you work, but, like, blogging is unfair! It’s kind of just how it is. People will always swoop in at the last minute and undermine your decades of success. People will always get reposted by companies and get more followers overnight than you’ve ever had. People will fake their stats to work with brands. That’s blogging. Plus, when you combine the natural unfairness with the huge pressure to be successful online these days, it’s not hard to see why so many people think their wallet is the only way to the walk of fame.
As for giveaways and advertising: they aren’t the same as buying followers… but they’re pretty similar. I don’t think you can criticise one if you engage in another. What do you do when you advertise? You pay someone to send their followers your way. Or when you host a giveaway, yes you’re thanking your followers for supporting you but, you’ve also just paid £40 for a Naked Palette which will be RTed, helping you to be seen by more bloggers and gain more followers. Granted, these followers are actual people instead of dead robot accounts, but you’re still spending money and getting followers in return. The principle of cutting corners to grow your following is the same.
And is buying inactive accounts really any different to what’s going on on social media anyway? Most bloggers start a blog Twitter and then give up within 6 weeks resulting in me being followed by accounts which are pretty much gathering dust. Even the people which are active often only follow me to get followed back, so realistically they might as well be inactive. What about those ‘follow for 10 free follows’ accounts? If we criticise buying followers then surely we have to do the same for all methods of growing your audience.
It seems like people direct their anger about the unfairness of blogging at those who buy followers, when actually the cuts run much deeper than that. Saying that buying followers is unfair because you’ve worked hard implies a) that they aren’t putting effort in, which we’ve established may not be true, and b) that success is synonymous with how long you’ve been doing something for, which trust me- it isn’t. It’s okay to be angry or jealous or upset about people who grow their audiences in sneaky ways but perhaps channeling all your emotions at those who buy followers isn’t the best way to address your wider dissatisfaction with blogging culture.
And, if after all that, you still hate those who buy followers, remember that there’s enough readers in the world to read your blog too. Don’t panic b, just hit me up and I’ll give you some love.