Updated: 1/2/2021

These days you can buy just about anything online such as; fake book reviews, fake girlfriends and yes, even fake social media followers.  There are many businesses promising to help people look popular online and increase the size of their social media following.  These tactics are appealing to those who are desperate for a following or for people who are just plain lazy but there’s a problem, these tactics almost always get exposed.  Let me prove it to you…       

In a 2012, Forbes article celebrities like Shakira, Lady Gaga and former U.S. President Barack Obama, were called out on their inflated Twitter following when it was noticed that millions of accounts were following only famous people.  These fake accounts also had little or no activity on them outside of just following people.  It was presumed these fake accounts were from a hired service but no one involved (most likely a PR team) anticipated ever being discovered.   This all came to light when an app was created that can go through a person’s Twitter account and tally up all the fake or suspect accounts.

Why Are You Bringing This Up?

As you spend more time on social media you will be approached by people that claim they can help you get 50,000 followers or more and those people are usually scam artists. Most of these so-called followers are bots, and they’re against the TOS (Terms of Service) of almost all social media sites. Keep in mind there are services which are legitimate and can actually help boost your social media following using various methods like; advertising, cross promotional groups, and even with content creation.  However, legitimate services don’t guarantee a specific amount of followers or any specific amount of engagement.  They also don’t endanger your account with pointless shenanigans.     

Now On To The Good Stuff:

I’ve heard it preached by all of the top social media gurus that in order to build your following you must post good content but that’s not the whole story.  Social media is all about networking and making yourself visible.  There are both free and paid ways to do this but first, I’ll discuss the paid options: 

#1: Advertising Your Account

Most social media sites allow users to promote their accounts with ads.  This is a legitimate way to build up your numbers fast.  Personally, I don’t recommend advertising unless, you really know what you’re doing, because many authors have lost money advertising.  They see ads as a type of set it and forget it marketing, believing the social media platform will do all the heavy lifting.  However when that doesn’t happen, they’re left scratching their heads wondering what went wrong?  

You see, advertising can only do so much, and before you put down any money on a social media ad, you have to answer the question: why should people follow me on social media?  As a business looking for customers (readers) you have to think about them and see things from their perspective.   

  • Are you offering a freebie? 
  • Is your book on sale? 
  • Do you post helpful or entertaining content?
  • Have you built a community that others would like to be part of? 

These are questions that often stump authors.  Sure, some of them might shell out the money for an ad but they forget to have something waiting for people who do click on those ads.  Believe it or not, you need to engage people after the ad.  Today, it’s not enough anymore to just tell people you exist, that’s because there are over 2.8 billion people on Facebook alone, so if you’re going to build a strong following, you’re going to need a workable long term strategy to stand out.            

#2: Promotional Services

There are apps and websites that allow social media users to promote their accounts and pages however, they are not very targeted.  This is a cheap way to beef up the numbers for social media accounts.  I only recommend that you get your account featured and avoid their other services.      

Free Ways To Promote Your Account

This is often called by social media managers, the slow burn method to building up an account because it takes time unlike advertising and promotional services.  These techniques also require dedication to consistently show up and participate in the social aspects of social media, for example…

#3: Content

Social media experts agree everywhere that content marketing is still king.  However, that means content that is native to the site. But what if you’re short on time? Well, here’s a tip: Take content that you already have like blog posts or story excerpts and using Facebook’s notes feature post it to your page or group.  LinkedIn also has a blogging feature and it would be wise to use it if you want to get noticed.  And if you have a podcast, you can create a video and use your podcast as the audio then share it on Facebook, TikTok, or Youtube.  It doesn’t have to be long and complicated, just interesting enough for your followers.           

#4: Learn To Pitch To Influencers

Hopefully, you’ve been doing your homework and know who the influencers in your genre are. Today, just being on social media connects you to people who have resources, or knowledge that you do not have. And most influencers fit that bill, they can help you access their audience, as well as reach out to other people or institutions on your behalf.  However there’s a catch, you have to be useful or worth the effort to receive such a favor. In other words, you have to bring something to the table.  Can you offer their audience something they actually want?  This is usually the best way to get a yes from an influencer.  I discuss this more in depth in two articles I wrote called: How To Pitch Social Media Influencers as well another called: Before You Pitch A Book Reviewer: 6 Tips Most Authors Ignore.  It would be wise to take notes before approaching someone cold (out of the blue) on social media.         

#5: Joining Groups

Despite what you may believe, joining online groups isn’t just about moral support, it’s about keeping your pulse on the industry.  There are plenty of good reading, writing and publishing groups that are useful for those who are in the dark about the industry.  I’ve been the member of several helpful groups where I have gotten freebies as well as freelance work.  So how do you find a group like this? Well you begin by searching for a group or community in the search engine and use the words; writing, authors, writers, publishing, reading, or books. 

#6: Make Sure You’re Easy To Find

If your readers wanted to find you, could they?  No, I’m not just speaking about Google, social media itself is a giant searchable database.  Have you tried to type your name in the search engine and see what comes up?  Next question: Were you easy to find? If not, you might want to put keywords in your bio like the words writer or author, as well as the genre you write in. This is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and it’s important, if you want free visibility.     

#7: Cross Promote Your Accounts

It’s not uncommon for authors to promote their social media accounts in their books, newsletters, email signatures and on their blogs.  Heck it’s not uncommon for authors to cross promote social media accounts on other social media platforms. 

#8: Time

This might be an unpopular piece of advice considering the world we live in today but building a following on social media takes time.  It takes time to prove that you’re interesting, funny or trustworthy enough to follow.  John Green, bestselling author of The Fault In Our Stars, has a following of 5 million on Twitter but it took him over ten years and 34 thousand tweets to amass that following.  So the idea of the overnight sensation is a myth and always was, this kind of work requires effort and creativity to succeed.  Sorry guys, but there’s no magic in building a real following on social media, you’re gonna have to roll up your sleeves and get to work.


Wrapping It Up

I hope this post gave you a realistic view of social media and how it really operates versus what you may have heard from gurus and scam artists. Yes, you can pay for an audience but a fake audience will never support your work. Also, if you’re caught, that fake audience will be taken away and your account may be deactivated. This could lead to a lot of embarrassment and in my opinion, it’s not worth it but you didn’t ask me all that…

Anyway, if you found this post helpful, please like and share.

Participant in the Make a Living Writing link party.