Running a business is not an easy task. Business and the economy run in cycles. There will be highs and there will be lows. What sets a company that can stand the test of time apart from a company that may not survive its first year is how the highs and lows are handled. When a low hits, it is very tempting to participate in a variety of tactics that sometimes border on questionable. For new business owners, the temptation to buy reviews and online followers is very real, although it is not encouraged. Here are a few reasons to consider a different route.

Buying Reviews is Illegal

Paying for reviews and endorsements without public disclosure is illegal. If it’s suspected that your business has been paying for fake reviews, you can get fined. As a startup, you are trying to survive your first year in business. It is not easy. When there are investors expecting returns and suppliers seeking their payments as well as your employers whom you promised a paycheck, it can get hot in the kitchen quickly. You can try several tactics to drum up business and attention, but you are strongly encouraged to stay away from buying reviews. 

First, ask yourself why you are thinking about using this tactic. If you are trying to create a buzz, a better route is to improve your company’s marketing game. You can invest in customer relationship management software or you can partner with a marketing professional who will work within your budget. 

If you want to purchase reviews in an effort to hide negative feedback, you are entering illegal territory because you are attempting to defraud customers. While it will require an investment, if your products or services are receiving negative reviews, consider fixing those issues, and then, trying again.

Doesn’t Help You Build Your Brand

Buying followers does not help you build your brand. Numbers are great, but it is worth keeping in mind that those numbers do not add to your company’s brand. Customers who follow your company on their own accord are more likely to be engaged. Social media has brought to the surface many things. With the help of the internet, negative feedback and negativity, overall, spreads across the world at a very quick rate. So, you may have to deal with a few outspoken individuals, but your legitimate customers who enjoy your products or services may be able to drown out the ones who are seeking to stir the pot. If you are seeking to purchase followers because it is true that 1 million followers do look cool and provides a wonderful ego boost, you are not helping your brand develop its full potential.

Lowers Engagement Statistics

The consumer of today is a lot smarter than just a decade ago. They do not always make the best decisions, but they do have a lot of information at their disposal. They are also curious. 80% of consumers will conduct research before making a purchase or signing up for a service. The consumers who are extremely knowledgeable take a look at statistics. This consumer can take a look at your social media accounts and the number of followers for each. Then, they can compare the number of followers to the number of shares, likes, and retweets each post receives. If they see that your company has low engagement rates, they will take that information into consideration. Low engagement rates do not always break a potential purchase, but it is not a good look because it indicates that followers were most likely purchased.

Unable to Measure Marketing Campaigns Accurately

Any marketing campaign that your company rolls out requires an investment. On social media, these campaigns can become expensive. Some marketing campaigns charge fees based on the number of followers, email addresses or accounts. So, if you purchased followers, you are running up the fees. If you roll out a marketing campaign and you bought followers, you are not going to be able to measure it accurately, either. In the comedy show Silicon Valley, season three featured an episode poking fun at click farms, which are real. While a company can utilize the services of a click farm or something similar, you are never going to really know what is working and what requires some shaking up. This is a complete disservice to the potential of your business.

Hurts Integrity

It is important to remember that the consumer of today is better informed. Information is at their fingertips. When one sees that your company purchased followers, it may not be a big deal. The combination of this realization and other circumstances could be a detrimental blow. The political climate is still spicy, and there is still an all-out cold war between some citizens and the media. What really ignited this battle was the alternative media pointing out that the mainstream media had low engagement numbers. In a way, it validated those who call the media “Fake News.” By getting into this food fight, the mainstream media has hurt its integrity. A company that purchases reviews and followers hurts its own integrity as well. Ideally, your company will never end up in a figurative food fight with your target audience, or any other, but before agreeing to such a purchase, consider that this action will most likely hurt your company’s integrity.

Are You Doing This on Accident?

According to the government, there is no such thing as buying reviews and followers on accident. There are very few customers who are inclined to leave a review after a positive experience, and of course, a company requires those positive reviews to build a solid reputation. Incentives blur some lines because a customer who simply wants to claim the incentive may not be 100% truthful about their experience or the product’s quality. A definite no-no is asking employees to leave reviews. 

Entrepreneurs are always going to be innovative — it’s what makes them entrepreneurs, after all! Several entrepreneurs have figured out how to carve a career out of the popularity and opportunity social media provides. This had led to the concept of influencers and a new version of key opinion leaders. These inventive individuals have built their own communities with a loyal following, and they have reaped sizable profits. Companies took notice and started to hire their services. A gray appeared in these business partnerships when it was not made clear if the content was sponsored or in fact a paid ad. 

Eventually, the government stepped in due to several complaints. One of the examples cited was an Instagram post that showed Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez on a private plane. It became increasingly difficult for loyal followers of the two ladies to differentiate if they were posting about products because they truly used them, or they were being paid to show them off. 

Ultimately, purchasing reviews and followers is discouraged because the practice has been used to attempt to defraud legitimate customers in the past. Buying reviews doesn’t help your brand, it makes it hard to determine what direction you need to go with a product or service, and it hurts a companies integrity. Instead of hitting the panic button and adopting questionable tactics, explore other strategies, consult with professionals and brainstorm with your startup team.

The best way to jumpstart your social media presence is with a good marketing campaign! Talk to us to learn how we can make a difference.