Have you ever wondered why other Instagram or Twitter users start following you although you might not have an impressive account with lots of high-quality content and only use your channel for the occasional photo of your Saturday night out on the town or an extra picture-worthy self-made meal? Well, the reason is probably not because these users admire your content so much, they rather want to increase their group of followers. Following others with the intention for them to follow back is a common strategy used across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the like. With the increasing interest in and success of influencer marketing, the need for an extended reach becomes more and more urgent, giving rise to manifold strategies for expanding one’s followership.
Fake accounts plague Instagram since its start in 2010. These accounts or bots are usually computer-based and randomly follow Instagram channels, post spam comments and like huge quantities of pictures. But there is another side to the story: More and more Instagram users deploy fake followers to increase their follower group and multiply the likes and comments on their pictures.
Followers are the underlying factor of every social platform. Without followers, what is the point in creating content in the first place? The basic need of any influencer is to get followers who consume this content and engage with the channel. It might seem very basic and needless to define the follower concept, but it is important to have a very clear definition and exact knowledge on the concept of followers and its relevance for both influencers and companies engaging in influencer marketing. Followers are far more than just a number – although it might seem advantageous to have a tremendous amount of followers, we have to take a closer look at the composition of this metric. Instagram will serve as an example for this article to explain the mechanics of followers, although the concept itself can be transferred to any social platform.