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How Buying Social Media Followers Erodes Trust In Your Brand

The news is tripping all over itself to report on the widespread habit of brands and celebrities buying social media followers.

The practice has been around for awhile, but is finally going mainstream and people are talking about it.

What does it mean for a leader or brand? It means that we have to look beyond vanity metrics that can easily be skewed. The number of followers you have makes NO DIFFERENCE to your business. You can have 1 follower and sell a million dollars of product. Alternatively, you can have a million followers and go out of business for a lack of sales.

Note: I wrote this post about a week before “Followergate,” where the New York Times reported the widespread practice of celebrities, politicians, and brands purchasing social media followers. For one, don’t ever do this. Secondly, it is easy to understand why they do it, it is a flawed system we use to measure influence, and finally, if anything, it highlights my point below.

I am seeing (what I hope is) a bit of a trend starting: transparency in business.

A few “influencers” are starting to talk about how badly they feel about selling out; brands are taking a risk and realizing they can’t be everything to everyone- so let’s be the best to fewer; and the masses are starting to tire of everything being Breaking News / New and Improved / But Wait, There’s More!

We need transparency. We need authenticity. We need humans to be human.

Of course, that means we need to have grace when humans aren’t superheroes.

Photo by Cody Davis on Unsplash

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