I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately after noticing quite a few spammy looking accounts follow me. You’re probably thinking – why are you even looking? But – I’ll be real. I’m a huge stickybeak (Australian for inquisitive). I’m always curious when some kind of professional looking account follows me. I wanna know who they are and what they’re about, and if we can work together.

More often than not, I’m disappointed to see between 0-50 posts, and 30-50k followers. Like, I KNOW that’s fake. I don’t even bother looking at their engagement any more, but I used to check out their posts and see how many likes and comments they’d get. It’s a pretty good indication of whether it’s a fake profile.

There’s also been SO MUCH conversation lately about ‘beating the algorithm’ and creating these Instagram like / engagement pods.

Yo. If you want to build an audience. One that likes you and ACTUALLY speaks to you and cares about your business and helps it grow. YOU CAN’T CHEAT THAT!

If you think Instagram is dumb enough to not notice that you’re in an engagement pod (FYI an engagement pod is like a group chat, and every time a member in it posts something new on Insta they tell the group so everyone rushes to go and like and comment on it, in the hopes of boosting its engagement, making sure it appears in more people’s feeds) – then you’re wrong.

I guarantee you recently that you’ve had sponsored posts on Instagram (and Facebook) that are EXACTLY what you’ve been Googling or talking about. Insta knows that. It watches your behaviour. It curates people’s feeds based on their past behaviour, in and out of the platform itself.

You trying to trick the system – it ain’t gonna work. What’s your end goal anyway? Get a bunch of people in a group chat to like and comment on your post and not buy anything from you anyway? They’re not your people, so why bother.

Similarly, buying likes and followers is ridiculous and dangerous. Not only can it get your account shut down, but it’s so shallow. Newsflash: no one really cares about how many followers you have if your product / services / skills are freakin’ amazing. It’s so easy to see through the stats now.

If you want to check out a fun website I personally love to stalk people on, it’s called social blade. You can enter people’s usernames and it shows you stats for their uploads, followers and who they’re following. I get so mad when I see ‘influencers’ getting paid, when their followers are just bought. I know I should have better things to care about but I always put myself in the business owner’s / sponsors shoes and think, DAMN. You are getting ripped OFF!

If you see a huge spike, or drop then spike in someone’s following – fake. If you want to know what a spike looks like, enter my username (blackchalkco) and look at the day Instagram deleted 150+ of my posts during that hacking scandal. They all came back the very next day, but it has left a spike in my uploads history.

That kind of spike under followers = fake.

So, not only can brands and customers now see through the BS, but would these fake followers even satisfy you?

I like to think about it like this. If I started my calligraphy account over again and bought 70k followers instead of growing a following organically……. Would I even want to DO it anymore? The comments wouldn’t be real, the likes wouldn’t be genuine, no one would be interested in me, my business, my art or my services. So would I even feel motivated to continue? Would I even feel like I was making a difference in anyone’s life?

Nope.

The whole point of this post (despite literally everything I’ve been doing by creeping on others HAHA) is: don’t get caught up in the numbers! I hope this shows you just how easy it is to see through them, and how they don’t actually matter.

Focus more on building a genuine community, filled with PEOPLE – real people! People that you actually like, connect with, share stories and experiences with. If you choose to monetise your art (or whatever it is you do) then bots and engagement pod people aren’t going to buy from you – so don’t waste time, energy or money on them.

The only true way to grow an engaged and authentic audience is to continually put out quality content and be yourself. That might sound cliché and like hard work, but it’s true.

If you want to grow your social media following, look inward. Why do you follow who you follow? Why do you like and engage with things? Look at your own behaviour, and then use that to create and curate posts that will make others do the same.

Good luck, and stay real.

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