Adulting IS hard, am I right? So is blogging! With so many expectations to building an engaged following and a huge spike in services claiming to handle the hard work for you, I had a few questions.
Last fall, I wrote about my undercover experiences with ‘buying’ followers for social media accounts. Recently, numerous members in my blogger cohorts discussed their questions and concerns with the evolution of social following services for blogs and associated social media platforms. My curiosity was piqued, of course, because every blogger (and their followers!) can recognize when an individual demonstrates a sudden and unwarranted upsurge in followers and engagement on their account. The phenomenon is easy to observe: Overnight, an account gains 1,000 (or more!) followers without hosting any sort of giveaway, feature, or viral content. Next, ratios of likes or comments on posts spike! The comments are not genuine, however, normally just leaving an emoji or one-word statement such as “Nice!” or “Cool!” In short, the perceived success is FAKE and causes you to lose credibility as a blogger.
After a friend and fellow creative was approached to pilot a social following service called Sogro, a service of which I had never heard, I decided to make use of the company’s free 10-day trial to see what social following services actually entailed. This post is not sponsored in any way nor was I asked to try the service or review it by anyone. All opinions are my own!
Why Try the Service?
First, I wanted to try a social following service for myself (as I do most things) to see if there was any bit of credibility to the process. Of course, I approached the trial with a negative attitude because – no matter the outcome – the service still involves “paying” for a following: $39.95/month after the 10-day trial expires. Systems of the sort tend to used automated processes to follow/unfollow, like, comment, and otherwise engage with users to grow your overall following. The digital creative community often condemns such processes and deems them inauthentic. I was curious if such a service has any positive benefits aside from an increased follower count and what the actual “process” entailed to secure more allegedly real followers.
Starting the Trial
Applying for Sogro was easy – almost too easy. I created an account on their website (www.sogro.co) and provided details regarding which platform I wanted help engaging. I had to provide my Instagram handle and password (yikes!) to allow access for their service to control my account – Don’t worry, I’ve since changed all of my details since ending the trial. After logging in, they asked me a series of questions about the goals of my account, the types of content that interest me, and hashtags with which I want my brand to be associated. They even asked me to list account handles that I saw as my competition – didn’t see that one coming. Ultimately, I was impressed with the list of questions asked of me, but highly turned off by the lack of communication with a “real” person who was supposedly controlling my account. Here’s what happened throughout the 10-day trial:
- Sogro began following tons of accounts the first day – about 200 in the first 24 hours. Not that I personally care about follower ratios, I was a little disheartened by the fact that the service followed so many accounts that I could no longer see updates from friends, family, and other bloggers with whom I engage daily. Because many of these profiles I can only assume were ranked higher by Instagram’s algorithms, I missed out on a lot of content I normally try to see daily.
- An Instagram user called me out! An account Sogro followed left the following comment on my photo towards the end of the trial. Definitely a red flag for a blogger who prides herself on authenticity!
- Sogro is strictly a service for growth and following. This means no weird, fake comments left on other accounts in your brand’s name and no unprecedented spike in engagement.
- The service took my location into consideration and connected me with bloggers and creatives throughout Kentucky with whom I had not previously engaged. I’m actually hosting a collaboration next week with a local artist Sogro followed on my behalf.
While I can’t speak for every social following service, I had a better experience than anticipated with Sogro. To say that such a service creates a sense of transparency and authenticity with followers and brands with whom you collaborate would be entirely false. Sogro’s process of following accounts tailored to your interests, however, actually led me to find several accounts that I would have not found/followed on my own. I am grateful for these established connections. Ultimately, I gained about 50 followers during the 10-day trial. A large company also featured me on their account (500k+ followers) during this window so it is difficult to say what specifically drove the increase in my count. Do I see the appeal of such services? Absolutely. Do I think utilizing them as means of increasing follower count and engagement is fair or authentic? Not quite.
Have you tried a social following service? What were your experiences? I’d love to hear your story. Drop me a comment below.
This post is part of the Being Your Best Blogger Self Series. Stay tuned for upcoming installments.