Haulix Advice: 4 Reasons Buying Followers/Likes Is Always A Bad Idea

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Hello and welcome to the beginning of an all-new week of music industry insight here on the official blog of Haulix. We’re turning the tables just a bit this afternoon and kicking things off with a brand new Advice column that aims to put one digital debate to rest for good. If you or someone you know has an idea for a future installment of this column, please do not hesitate to email james@haulix.com and share your suggestion.

Like it or not, there is definitely something to be said for artists who have the ability to amass a large online following without the help of a record label or top 40 single. Labels and managers love this kind of artist because it paints the perception of a successful, or at least well-liked artist even though everyone knows Facebook likes and Twitter followers do not correlate in any way to sales or actual financial success. Still, in a business where image means a lot there are those who are willing to do anything to raise the numbers associated with their so-called digital ‘supporters,’ and all too often that means turning to companies that offer guaranteed likes/follows for a price. These businesses may seem legit, but today we’re going to look at 4 reasons why going this route almost always ends badly for the artist.

1. Engagement means more than your like or follower count ever will.

You know that saying about how you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force it to drink? The same goes for gaming your social media stats. You can make it seem like 25,000 people love your one-man band from the middle of nowhere, but you cannot force their nonexistent bodies to show up at your next gig. Likewise, unless you go all-in and decide to buy followers as well as social engagement (plays on Youtube, streams on Facebook, etc. – it’s all possible for a price) it will not take long for the actual, living people who view your profile to notice a severe discrepancy between followers and people interacting with your account.

2. You increase the risk of spamming actual fans.

The idea of giving some unknown entity twenty dollars in exchange for 10,000 followers seems relatively catch-free, but anyone digging into the agreement users make when signing up for these companies will notice they more often than not require clients to allow the company to post on their behalf. That mean that at some point down the line, likely when you expect it the least, messaging will be blasted from your account to everyone connected with your group. If you’re on Twitter, this often means mass private messaging, which most people will report as spam. When that happens enough the fine folks at Twitter HQ will shutdown your account, and upon review of your activity it’s likely your recent ‘social boost’ will come to light. That will result in the loss of your account, and at that point you’ll be even worse off than when you began.

3. No one wants to work with someone who is trying to game the music industry.

No one holding a position in music that can help your career is stupid. That should go without saying, but click around the social media accounts of unsigned artists long enough and you’re bound to find dozens boasting followings that in no way reflect their actual status as performers. These people brag endlessly about their hype ‘on the streets,’ and for awhile this tactic may work, but there are a growing number of tools that industry professionals are using to unmask those hiding behind fake followers. People who are caught or discovered to be engaging in this practice of gaming social stranding are often blacklisted from many press outlets, and we’ve even heard from multiple PR reps who claim they have refused to work with artists in the past because they suspected them of boosting their stats.

4. You will get caught.

Music is hard for everyone, and that includes both professionals and artists. Those who make a career in this industry have worked extremely hard to get that far and they do not take kindly to people who try to cheat the system. Do the work. Post interesting content whenever you’re able, engage with the people who are already following your efforts, and over time you will begin to organically develop an online following. Anyone promising you a massive social media change over night is either lying to you or withholding key details that will eventually come back to haunt you. 

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.