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Let’s Talk: Fake Blogging Engagement

Heads up guys; this post will be roughly summarized as an amazed rant. It’s early in the morning, I’m hungry, functioning purely on caffeine, and just saw something that blew my mind, and not in a good way.

There’s something going on in the blogosphere that I know isn’t new. But what with Instagram’s algorithm, YouTube altering it’s partner program to the detriment of smaller influencers, and a lot of negativity surrounding working with brands right now, drawing people to your blog has become more important that ever. And some tactics have been dragged to the forefront. Now, whilst some tactics might be described by some as ‘Shady’, I’m gonna go down a different route and put a very opinionated spin on them. The tactics I’m talking about today are, quite frankly, stupid. And whilst I debated trying to put a more positive spin on this, I have something to say. Sometimes, after all, honesty is the best policy.

Photo Credit: Shannon Crighton

I’m have noticed that a lot of these tactics seem to happen in January, when creation of new blogs peaks. I’m not slamming new bloggers at all – I’m still what you could call new, and I know establishing yourself in the blogosphere takes time and a lot of trial and error. We all make mistakes. And when you’re new, you see some people with 10k+ followers utterly killing it, and you think it will be easy to get there. It’s not. And there’s no shortcut. Sure, some people blog for a year, end up with 5k followers and have brand collaborations you could only dream about. But these bloggers get that because they put in the effort to grow organically. To connect with a readership that follows their blog. I’ve been here a year, and after re-brands, considerations, and blogging slumps, I’m finally starting to establish a regular readership, albeit a small one. It takes time, and the best advice I can give is be yourself, establish a writing style, and find your niche. Once you start writing about what you enjoy writing about, and learning about what people actually read from you, it gets easier. There’s no quick fix. And there’s certainly no fake it ’til you make it approach!

I was reading another blogger’s post today, and it was a bad review of a hyped up product. All fair. The product that everyone loved didn’t stack up for this blogger. It happens. But amongst a huge number of comments either agreeing with her, or exclaiming disbelief that this Holy Grail product didn’t work, was one that I’ve seen far too many times on bad reviews:

“Loved this post. I can’t wait to try this product!”

To her credit, the blogger that wrote the post set her straight by simply telling her not to. But as I’ve said, I’ve seen this multiple times! It’s always signed off by a link to their own blog, and shows a stunning amount of ignorance. It’s suddenly plain that you didn’t read the post. You just want backlinks to your own blog. And honestly – what the hell are you thinking if you do this?!

Photo Credit: Shannon Crighton

It’s not restricted to blog comments too! I’ve once written out an Instagram caption about a difficult period in my life, only to find a “your hair looks great!” comment in amongst lots of sympathetic acknowledgements. It’s obvious in that case that the caption just wasn’t read. I mean, thanks, but it just makes you look a bit heartless and uncaring. It’s tactless, and more importantly, it’s seen by a lot of people.

The tactics I’ve seen year have been stunning, and it’s barely even been 2 months! I know there’s a lot of falseness on Instagram, but when someone running one of those “travel” pages that basically just puts up stock images of nice locations with a filter whacked on top to make it a bit more “unique” (seriously, what is the goal with these profiles run on images you didn’t take/stolen images?) left a comment that said “You should check out my page” under a photo of mine that had nothing to do with their profile or niche, I laughed out loud. They didn’t even try and sweeten me up with a “nice profile” or “great shot”. That was most likely a bot, but still! All I did was select the comment and hit that delete button. Why should anyone check out your page when you aren’t helping them? This one is pretty mainstream, and the more direct ones have been even better. When I started sharing my 2018 Goals Post, I was tweeted by another blogger that told me “I have a similar post! Check it out!”. Except my views didn’t change in the hour before or after she tweeted me. Why would I read your post, simply because you told me to, if you can’t even be bothered to support my post first? Truth be told, had that post just floated in my feed, I probably would’ve clicked on it and read it, without any expectations of that support being returned. But having it shoved in my face like that put me off. The next day, a girl followed me on Instagram, and then sent me a DM telling me I should “check out her post because it might give me some ideas!”. Excuse me?! Not only was that stupid, but downright insulting. To add insult to injury, just a few hours later she unfollowed me.

I know that when you start a blog, most people will tell you that to grow, you need to engage with others. This is true. But that engagement needs to be genuine. Read their posts. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter. Don’t get upset when people don’t follow you back. Don’t tweet them telling them you’ve been following them for a while now and think they should be following you back (yes, this happens!). You aren’t doing anyone a favour by following them, and they don’t owe you anything just because you did. People should only follow those that interest them. I know it’s disheartening when you’re a new blogger to have a small follower count, but if it’s all about the numbers to you, you’re maybe in this for the wrong reasons. And you’re not likely to grow a following when you’re clearly only commenting because you’ve been told it’s good to grow, and are leaving 3 word comments everywhere. Important thing to note – comments less than 8 words will increase your spam score, meaning all your comments are filtered out and don’t make it through people’s spam filters. So maybe rethink leaving that “Great Post!” comment for the hundredth time.

Photo Credit: Shannon Crighton

At the end of the day, fake engagement is pretty obvious. With every maybe 50 posts about loving the latest hyped up product, they’ll be one person that didn’t like it. Read the post before you make an idiot of yourself by commenting that the review made you want to try the product. We all know to just ignore those “great shot”, “nice pic”, or “like it” Instagram comments, and will likely mentally blacklist your profile with just one comment left like that. And it’s not going to give anyone a good impression of your content if you have to ask them directly to read it, especially if you suggest your content is better than theirs, or more worthy of their time than what they might be doing at that moment. There is no easy way to gain a genuine following. Fake engagement isn’t just obviously paid for – it can be as simple as leaving a thoughtless comment. You might think that because you are genuinely typing out those two word comments, it’s fine. It’s not. And it will make the journey that little bit harder for you.

If you seriously want to increase your page views and follower count, do it properly. Follow profiles that you like on Twitter on Instagram, without any expectations of being followed back. Interact with other bloggers by genuinely responding to their social media content. Read other blogs and leave comments if you like them, that explain why you liked it, not just “I like this!”. Create content that you love, and seriously, don’t focus on your numbers. With great content, that you’re passionate about, will come followers, and friendships. Trust me, it’s worth the wait to put in the effort.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot over some mad belief you need to grow immediately.

Rachel

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32 Comments

  1. February 26, 2018 / 2:02 pm

    Great post! Love it!

    Haha, I’m kidding – I mean, it’s a great post and I did love it, but that will not be the extent of my comment! It makes me smile SO much everytime I receive a genuine, thoughtful comment on my blog, and you can tell when someone has properly read a post, and it honestly makes blogging seem more worthwhile to get organic comments on blog posts. I would honestly rather get one lovely, thoughtful comment than a zillion “great post!” comments! You’re so right about creating content that you love – that will show through when you write as well rather than forcing yourself to write something that you feel you should. Beautiful photos, I love your coat!
    Hels xx
    http://www.thehelsproject.com

    • February 26, 2018 / 2:16 pm

      Thank you! I agree; genuine comments are such moral boosters and so much more worthwhile than anything else. And if you don’t love your content, who else will? X

  2. February 26, 2018 / 3:25 pm

    This post is everything I’ve wanted to say before. I’ve had one person comment on my last four posts within 3 minutes of each previous comment.. alarm bells rang when I thought this person had just swiped down to see what other people had commented all just to mimic that and leave their own link. Obviously I see lots of genuine engagement too but it’s stuff like this I see straight through

    • February 26, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      It’s definitely increasing and so easy to spot! I’m waiting for the “great post” on this one! X

  3. February 26, 2018 / 3:46 pm

    I very much agree! I have had so many accounts just comment ‘great pic check out my page’
    That just makes me not go and check their page!

    Lynsey

    • February 26, 2018 / 3:56 pm

      I agree! Every “check out my page” comment results in me not checking their page. I wonder how much return they actually see from those! X

  4. February 27, 2018 / 1:01 am

    Nothing irks me more than those type of replies. And I get them all too often on my blog. It used to really affect me because as a writer I put more effort in my words than photos at times so it really hurt to get generic crap like that. But I’ve become numb to it all now since it’s been happening for so long. I never really thought people would click on their links to visit their blogs because of that reason alone. I know I don’t. I’ll click on a commenters link if they show they’re actually engaged.

    Sxx
    daringcoco.com

    • February 27, 2018 / 8:27 am

      I like to hope no one clicks on a blog link because of a comment like that! I agree with how disheartening it is, when you put so much time and effort into writing your posts and perfectly crafting them, only to have a comment from someone that blatantly didn’t read it… X

  5. February 27, 2018 / 4:08 am

    This was honestly very refreshing to read. I’ve been blogging for almost six months now and sometimes it feels like a constant race to gain followers, likes and comments. I fell for it at one point too.

    • February 27, 2018 / 8:29 am

      It’s so easy to get sucked in by it all at first. But most new bloggers don’t make it passed the first few months because of it, so well done for keeping going! Just be you, and the followers come. It’s definitely not a race! X

  6. February 27, 2018 / 6:35 am

    Thank you for this. I’m a completely new blogger (2 months) and the climb has been challenging, but never enough to make me want to create fake engagement.

    I find that Instagram is the worst offender still because there’s still a hug prevalence of bots despite the crackdown. This also reminds me of the people who follow and unfollow. I have an app that checks and it REALLY makes me not want to continue following, despite having a relatable feed.

    It sucks because everyone mentions finding a community, but it’s difficult when everyone only looks out for themselves.

    • February 27, 2018 / 8:32 am

      Instagram is definitely the worst and I have a whole other rant about the follow/unfollow game! Definitely don’t feel any pressure to continue following if someone does that; you don’t owe them anything!

      On another note, the community does come over time. Eventually you filter out the people that are clearly only in it for the numbers and you find like minded people. It took months for me to find blogging friends and I’m still making new ones all the time! You will get there! X

  7. February 27, 2018 / 9:11 am

    Rachel! I’m so glad I found this post and your blog (I think someone RT’d it onto my twitter timeline and I wish I could remember who ?). I’ve been trying to write a very similar post for weeks, but can’t seem to get my words out in a way that doesn’t terrify me that I’ll receive a whole load of backlash – which says something about the blogosphere at the mo anyway, doesn’t it?

    I totally agree with everything that you’ve said here, and I see it happening all the time too and it actually really frustrates me. Like you say, it’s so important to engage with other bloggers if you want to grow your following a little, but it really has to be genuine engagement, otherwise – what’s the point?

    Also, not sure if this makes you feel any better but those accounts that post ‘nice shot!’ or ‘like it!’ on your instagram are actually doing it for nothing – Instagram will only recognise a comment as ‘proper’ engagement if its more than 3 words! ?

    Soph x

    • February 27, 2018 / 9:42 am

      Thank you so much for such a lovely comment! First off, the backlash fear will always be there but you should never let that stop you saying what you want to on your blog! It’s your little space after all!

      I agree, the genuine engagement is so much more useful than the 2 word comments. It will definitely make people avoid your blog if you do that!

      I did know about the 3 word engagement thing but the problem is still people just gathering a following by commenting “great shot” on any and everything. Such an annoying thing to see! X

  8. February 27, 2018 / 10:03 am

    I absolutely love your posts like this! You always hit the nail on the head but you are never nasty or down right rude about anything. I think I have to agree with you, there’s a lot of common misconceptions about bloggers and what’s expected of them. The ‘great post’ comment is something in the past I am guilty off, but as times gone on I realised the value of good comment. I have seen how comments can really transform some one days.

    • February 27, 2018 / 10:06 am

      Thank you Em! Genuine comments are good for so many reasons. It’s always nice to give and receive them! X

  9. February 28, 2018 / 6:35 pm

    This post was super interesting. I always try and leave a comment on every post I read even if it’s just to say I enjoyed the post because I know how great it makes me feel when someone pays me a compliment on one of my posts. Bloggers need to support eachother and I don’t see why people can’t like a tweet/picture/blog post because I’m sure they like it when they get it. I try to put out what I want to get back but so far I feel like I’m just putting things out and not getting much back, yes, it’s disheartening but I know it builds me a positive reputation and it will come back to reward me in the long run. (I hope that doesn’t make me sound big-headed, I don’t mean it in that way).

    Em ~ thisisemsworld.com

    • February 28, 2018 / 7:04 pm

      Not at all; I completely agree with you! Sadly not everyone gives back what they get, but you should definitely keep up the support! Eventually it does come back around! X

  10. March 3, 2018 / 6:33 pm

    I found this post and your blog because of Sophie Rosie, and your posts just ring so much truth to the reality of what’s happening in the blogging community. While before January I didn’t get as many comments (granted, my blog is constantly growing), some of the ones I get now, are purely not genuine at all. I knew when I started blogging, I wanted to meet and connect with people in the community. I knew that I wasn’t going to read a post unless I could try to get all the way through, and like I said in her post, I wasn’t going to comment unless I could say something thoughtful. I never wanted someone to feel deflated because of an disingenuous comment. Great post. You have gained a new follower 🙂 xx

    Melina | http://www.ivefoundwaldo.com

    • March 4, 2018 / 1:05 pm

      Thank you for such a lovely comment! I couldn’t agree more with you – I love connecting with other bloggers and couldn’t dream of leaving a half-hearted comment. The genuine comments are so nice to receive, as it means someone has really connected with what you’ve said!

      I’ve also read quite a few of your posts and definitely seen your blog around, so I’m really glad you enjoyed the post enough to want to read more! x

  11. March 4, 2018 / 5:42 pm

    yes! I recently uploaded a photo of my delightful 6 year old after he fell over in the thick mud. Another blogger commented “So beautiful!” so frustrating when the content you have written is not being read.

    I have been blogging for over 2 years and only recently have I started to find my way. I took part in instants and pods and although yes they were work for engagement, these bloggers are not getting to know me or my content. I want to build a true readership. It’s tough and sometimes it can be all to easy to use them.

    • March 4, 2018 / 5:47 pm

      I feel you on the pod front! I did meet some bloggers that really did engage with my content through pods but I more often found the comments to be a bit fake! It’s definitely an easy way to build up engagement but for a lot of people it just doesn’t work x

  12. March 5, 2018 / 4:20 pm

    It’s so obvious when someone is commentating just to try and increase their own engagement and it’s frustrating that they don’t see how false it comes across. When I get a notification that I have a new comment on insta, I’m always so disappointed when it’s a generic comment just looking for attention. Even more disappointed when it’s someone with thousands of followers that really should know better!

    • March 5, 2018 / 4:23 pm

      Exactly this! Although I think the people leaving generic comments with huge followings have likely got where they are by leaving generic comments. Sad how one sided it is! Luckily less people are engaging in it now! X

  13. March 5, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    To say I’m completely guilt-free of leaving a comment such as “nice shot” or “I loved this post” would be a straight up lie. But whenever I’ve said those words it’s been a genuine reaction/feeling of mine! But I totally understand this and I witness it too! It is frustrating when the only comments you receive are the same things over and over with peoples links left underneath…To grow organically is hard but the rewards and follow ship are so worth it! Now not to sound cliché – but I did love this post and thought the photography was great haha x

    • March 5, 2018 / 5:14 pm

      I find that with the rise of comment threads and Instagram pods, the occasional “love this post” comment may be all you feel you can say when you have to say something. I think it’s obvious when it’s just there to self serve though! And thank you! X

  14. Finlay grace Allan
    March 6, 2018 / 6:45 pm

    This is such a truth bomb and I legit loved all that honesty! One of the first things I ever got told was not to drop my link on other people’s posts, videos or photos (unless asked for) with a “I did something similar”! I think I checked out more of what I shouldn’t do as a new blogger than what to do! As I didn’t want to be annoying, rude or straight up blocking material ?

    • March 7, 2018 / 12:57 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m actually amazed how many people do link drop with a “check out my similar post” comment! So many people seem to think blogging is easy and a quick fix and that’s how all these odd tactics come about. I definitely checked out all the “what not to do” posts before I started blogging too! ?

  15. April 11, 2018 / 7:14 am

    Hey Rachel,

    I can’t tell you how much I agree with your post!
    I’ve just started blogging last month and trying to grow my Instagram and I see all of these tactics being used. It’s frustrating because I genuinely want to connect with people but I feel like so many are just in it for the numbers.
    Sometimes it feels like there are more of these people than the genuine ones that want to create a genuine community.
    Well, with that being said I guess all we can do is just keep going!

    • April 11, 2018 / 10:49 am

      Thank you for such a lovely comment! I couldn’t agree more with you, and it’s such a shame so many think this is how you grow! Such a pain. But definitely keep going lovely! It’s much better to grow organically and it seems like you know what you’re doing! X

  16. Amber
    September 20, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    Hi Rachel.

    It’s so refreshing to read my ongoing mental battles from someone else! Does that even make sense?

    I’ve been too focused on gaining followers on IG and getting really down when I’ve suddenly lost 5, thinking “how does that happen? I don’t unfollow people, are they just fake accounts?!” I was starting to get obsessive. We’re told to post at least once a day, but I often feel like I’m posting for the sake of posting. My boyfriend has said exactly the same as you; forget the numbers, post because you enjoy it, work hard at writing good content and followers/readership will come.

    I also agree with everything you said about Instagram culture. I have very much noticed successful influencers all look the same. I looked into getting lip fillers but my boyfriend turned his nose up with the thought. But then someone caught my eye in the gym this morning and I found it hard to locate the real parts of her. She had false lashes, false lips, false nails, fake boobs – it looks a lot different in real life than it does from a screen. It hit me that I couldn’t believe I’d considered lip fillers when I didn’t really want them!

    Thanks for writing this, you’ve hit the nail on the head. We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground and keep going, you write really well!

    • September 27, 2018 / 5:29 pm

      Sorry this took me so long to get around to, but thank you so much for such a lovely comment! I’m always glad to see someone relating to things like these! I’m glad you’re getting your feet on the ground and being a bit more carefree with Instagram – it’s so important not to let it get to us! And thank you for your lovely comment on my writing – I’m always self critical about that so thank you! X

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