It’s a common occurrence yet not easily explicable in each case. You start out a social media presence, and very early on, someone follows you for no apparent reason.
Although this happens more often with people who are very active, it happens to pretty much anyone. The occurrence of random follows increases, of course, along with the size of your following.
Random people following you can be placed into three particular and distinct categories: Organic growth, bots, and people who mistakenly followed you.
Examples of organic growth
If someone wanders into your profile and likes the cut of your jib, how you dress, how you look, you’re more likely to get a follow from that person. As much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, we are all superficial individuals and might follow someone just because they’re good to look at.
However, to retain engagement with those individuals, there needs to be more to it. You need to build some kind of rapport with your audience.
Random people wandering into your profile will more than likely follow you because of your content and what kind of relationship you already have with your current audience.
If you’re seeing a much higher uptick in followers than usual, look out for people mentioning you or referencing your social media presence online. It’s possible that an influencer who holds a significant amount of sway took notice of you and liked what they saw.
When this kind of thing happens, you can expect a significant boost in your following. From that point onward, it’s likely that you can snowball your growth.
Sometimes it’s just some measly bot
Quality followers who interact with you may be a significant part of your audience, but they’re not alone. At times, a random stranger choosing to follow you may be nothing more than a bot.
In social networks like Instagram and Twitter, bots like these are an omnipresent reality because of the way these platforms’ systems work. If someone follows you, it’s a safe bet to assume that at least 1 time out of 10 you’ll follow them back.
Because of this, many bots exist to mass-follow accounts in the hopes that this will increase their own respective follower counts. There’s even the possibility that the bot following you is simply an infected machine or hacked account that sends promotional spam messages.
You can spot all of these bots easily by their “follows” count in social networks that allow for this. If one account, for example, follows 12,000 people but only has 1,000 followers, it’s possible that it’s a bot.
On Facebook, things are a little different. You can tell if an account is a bot by the low friend count, recent account creation date, and link spam on its profile.
Hacked accounts won’t have the first two, but will have the latter.
There’s nothing really to do about it. Just don’t count on the bots being favorable to your engagement metrics.
People also make mistakes
If you look like a celebrity, it’s possible that some people thought you were that person and followed you. Perhaps you resemble someone your follower knew a long time ago.
People make mistakes and will sometimes click the “follow” button thinking you’re someone else. There’s no way to tell these individuals apart from your organic followers.
However, once these followers realize you’re not the John or Jane Doe they thought you were, they’ll either unfollow you or stick around because they like your content.
In cases like these, there’s nothing that you can really do except correct the record if they contact you (e.g., you receive a message saying, “Hey! I think we went to high school together. How’s life been treating you?”).
In the end, it’s best not to worry too much about bots and mistaken followers. If you’re true to your message and draw enjoyment from making content, the majority of your followers will be organic red-blooded individuals who love what you have to share!
Note: Fake users and followers are used by some influencers to increase their engagement, and this is a very damaging practice to advertisers. We encourage all influencers to focus on organic growth which results in constructive engagement, making a win-win situation for you and your sponsors/partners.