Warning: slight rant to follow
I can't help but talk about this subject right now as I've been noticing more and more people + brands growing their social following exponentially fast (like going from 300-3000 in a matter of days). I shake my head at it all and here's why:
1) It's not real. So what's the point? When you 'purchase' followers (or likes), they are typically from spam accounts that are created to specifically be bought. They aren't ACTIVE followers that are into your brand. They won't be liking your photos, clicking on your links or asking where to buy your product so in all reality, it will only be hurting your engagement rate. If your comments/likes don't increase with the number of followers you are getting, your engagement rate (which is usually a %) will diminish and that's the only number you should really care about.
2) People can tell. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to put two and two together. If you have 10k followers and only get 80 likes per photo, then you've probably gone down the route of shopping for your followers rather than putting in the work. Also, people look at your followers... I do it often. And when I see a series of names that are plain gibberish and every one of these bizarre accounts you click on is following 150 people but has 0 followers and only 3 weird pictures... those are fakes. I can then establish that the reason for your growth took a click of a button and a credit card number, therefore losing all social credibility... in my books at least.
3) It ruins it for the rest of us. Building an account from scratch takes a whole lot of time, work and creativity to stand out and offer something unique that your followers can't get elsewhere. Trying to compete with big, already established brands is tough and can be at times, extremely discouraging. I understand the temptation of buying likes/followers, I really do, but I would be doing a disservice to my clients. It would give them a false reality that isn't producing results.
I prefer to live in real life, whether it's 500 or 50k followers, I want to know that each one is choosing to follow my accounts because they're truly interested. I know that buying followers isn't going to stop, people nowadays are to tempted by easy results. But at least I've said my peace with the subject and can go about the rest of my day.
Thanks for listening.