The world of social media is weird. It's a place to share experiences and highlight adventures while making new friends and connections, it's also breeding ground for instant gratification and deception as many continue to fabricate their own world. Often, dangerously so.
I know of "influencers" who have bought hundreds of thousands of fake followers while blasting each post with tens of thousands of paid likes just to feed their ego.
It's like filling a stadium full of mannequins and a soundbite of people clapping over a megaphone.
I won't allow my clients to do this.
That said, it's natural to want to be an influencer. Especially if you have done remarkable things in your life and want to share your experiences with the world. And especially if you're paying someone to manage and grow their personal brand.
One of my personal brand clients really wanted to grow his personal brand but didn't want to spend thousands on an influencer campaign. Working with a tight budget, and having minimal success with the follow/unfollow method, we decided to test a little-known growth hack.
We used the Facebook ads platform to run swipe-up ads on Instagram and drive traffic directly to his account.
The ad was simply a giveaway where users were instructed to Swipe Up, Follow, and DM "Win" to enter in the giveaway. The prize was a $100 Amazon gift card.
This strategy, using a very basic ad and very basic targeting, got us just under eleven cents per follower (based on ad-spend).
- Campaign: Traffic with your Instagram handle as the URL
- Target: Worldwide with a couple filters
- Ad Placement: Instagram Stories
- Budget/Term: $10/day for 10 days ($100 total)
The client account began with 9,688 followers and ended with 10,600 followers.
- 912 new followers
- $0.1096 per follower (ad spend)
- 3,935 swipe-ups (clicks)
- $0.03 per click
- 4.3 clicks = 1 follow
- 239,451 impressions
- Lagos was the largest growing audience
Due to our strategy for growth, a 45-day follow-up showed a 38% decrease from the new followers, with a net "new" following of 562.
This is natural and can be expected with these types of "growth hacks". Since people aren't following based on character or content, just simply to win a prize
- Long-term cost per follow: $0.178
This can be expected for any account using this or similar strategies. Though you're growing with an authentic audience, they're in it to win, not for your content. Once the incentive to win is gone, it's just a matter of time for people to unfollow.
The few people who utilize this strategy run weekly giveaways to keep the audience engaged. This is a good strategy to keep an audience around and engaging but doesn't guarantee an increase of conversions for your business. Especially if you're growing an audience outside of your target market.
Instead of giving away an Amazon card, you can give away your products and use the same strategy to grow your audience. Using a more targeted audience, you'll see a higher cost per follow, but you'll be growing your fan base with the kind of people who should be following you.
Based on the previous data, you can expect the following results to gain specific milestones:
- 10,000 followers => $1,100 in ad spend
- 100,000 followers: => $10.960 in ad spend
- Approx 6,200 followers from $1,100 ad spend
- Approx 62,000 followers from $10,960 ad spend
Though the client was extremely pleased with the immediate growth and didn't seem phased by the decrease in new followers, this kind of growth hack isn't ideal for just any brand.
For personal brands it's ok. In order to keep the audience going strong, you'll need to continue to give away prizes.
For other brands, giving away other items and products relative to your brand would be ideal.
Instead of targeting worldwide, I'd recommend you use a custom or Lookalike audience based on your pixel data. Though this may cost more per follow, they're much higher quality and likely to stick around as long as they like your content.
A similar strategy could be used to build email lists.
In this case study, I based the cost-per-follow on ad-spend only and didn't factor in the $100 gift card. Factoring in the $100 would double the cost per follow in this situation. But would also skew the data as most personal brands and growth hackers will likely spend more than $100 for a campaign.