Whatever You Do, Don't Buy Followers


I get a lot of questions about how to get more projects with Obviously.  As I've explained before, and will say again in a million different ways, landing a great collaboration takes time.  We match influencers with brands based on aesthetic, interests, engagement, and audience, because its very important to us that our collaborations are meaningful and sincere.  However, no matter how many times we stress this message, the myth remains that more followers = more projects.  When you're first starting out, this misconception can lead to a serious temptation to purchase followers from an online program.  I understand how attractive this option can be, especially when the strategy appears to be working for other influencers.  I just have one piece of advice: whatever you do, please, DO NOT purchase followers.  

There are a several reasons why this is a bad idea.

First off, we see you.


Obviously, along with many influencer agencies, has the technology to analyze the activity on your feed and determine if it is human or automated.  We have a pretty good estimate of how authentic your following is, and, while we understand that some bots are inevitable, we can absolutely tell when their presence is intentional.  High rates of false followers makes you look less professional.  We're trying to do something authentic here, and we need our influencers to be on board with that.

Your account could be banned.

Last year, Instagram banned services such as Instagress which aggressively follow and unfollow accounts in order to grow your audience. While similar services still exist, they go against Instagram's terms of service, and buying follows could result in a temporary ban on your account or in having all of your fake followers taken at once.   

It lowers your engagement.

Even if you're able to get away with purchasing followers for your account, they will generally not interact with your posts, which lowers your overall engagement rate.  Generally speaking, fewer followers means higher engagement rates. Of course, the best influencers are able to maintain strong engagement even as their followers grow, but if your numbers are still small, embrace that.  Fewer followers means you have greater capacity to interact with your audience.  Respond to their comments! Answer questions in your stories.  An influencer with plenty of real, honest, interactions could end up being a lot more powerful than an influencer with a million followers who are just passively observing.  The generic "cool post" and clapping hands emojis from bots aren't bumping your engagement nearly as much as real conversations will.

Bots hurt you in the long term.

While you may know influencers who are buying followers and getting collaborations, the reality is that as brands become more savvy they are going to realize they've been duped, and then they'll drop those influencers like a hot potato.  No one likes to be tricked, and that's really what it feels like from our end. These influencers are setting themselves up to damage their relationships with brands, which are all about trust and working together.  Also, once you start buying followers, its very difficult to stop, because the sudden drop in numbers will alert everyone to what's going on.  So, while it may be frustrating to be passed over in the short term, you will win out in the long term. 

It's really not all about numbers.

I'd be lying if I said we don't take follower counts into consideration.  Of course we do.  But all of our projects are looking for influencers within a pretty wide range of followers.  We've worked on collaborations with brands who are open to anyone between 5 and 50k- that's a lot of wiggle room! So within that large range, what we're looking for is high quality content and relevant interactions on your feed.  Those are things that are totally within your control.  So manage those, rather than obsessing over numbers. 

Here's the deal:  even if you don't have enough followers to collaborate with our brands just yet, we totally notice if you have a great feed.  We want you on our platform, because when you cross that threshold, we want to be the first to give you a leg up.  Keep doing what you do best, and feel free to reach out for advice.  (emilys@obvious.ly) We're here for you.  

Leave your thoughts in the comments!