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Monday, October 30, 2017 2 Comments 16 Likes
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The ethics of real vs. fake social media followers. How we did it. Why we kept it organic and real. And why care?

We have recently reached 1,000 (one thousand) organic, real Instagram followers and we are now past that benchmark number.

If you use social media for personal use and not business use and with many brands having markedly larger amounts of followers, you may think this is not a big deal. With bigger and not so bigger brands having tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, one thousand Instagram followers seems like a pittance not worthy of any mention (not to mention to write an article about it). But perhaps you are not familiar with the inner works and behind the scenes of social media strategies in the business world. If that’s the case, read on. If you use social media for business and for your business strategy, you know what we are talking about. If that’s the case, read on as well.

For small brands building a strong base of social media followers is not an easy task. It not only requires engaging content, something in itself not easy to create, but rather consistent and new engaging content. And persistency. All within the framework of small marketing budgets (or none at all). It may be easier for bigger brands as they already have a regional, national or international brand name with a strong fan base which coupled with a bigger marketing budget can help them set themselves up for an ever and fast increasing number of new followers and fans.

That is not to say it is easy for more established brands either. When it comes to social media, continuous quality engaging-content is also required no matter the size of the brand or business. What is not required for any size of brand to have an apparent solid fan and follower base is to have a social media strategy that is honest and not deceitful. In the business world, be it surfing, clothing or any other, deceiving marketing strategies, including those in social media, abound.

Let’s see, then, what we are talking about and what and how we were able to keep it honest, organic and real. And more importantly, why should anyone care?


Buying followers? What are you talking about? Do you mean to say that brands buy Instagram followers?

Yes. Many companies, brands, bloggers, celebrities and politicians purchase fake followers as part of their social media marketing strategy.  Brands like Pepsi and Mercedes-Benz have been accused of buying social media followers. CNN was called out for its infamous and massive 48% of fake Twitter followers.

It is not hard to do. There are many sites offering Instagram likes, comments and followers for a very small fee. Some, advertised as real followers. A quick Internet search will take you to many sites offering such services.  Many, many people and organizations use them.  Seeing how widespread this practice is, some bloggers and marketing consultants have used them as a social media experiment to see the results of using Instagram fake followers that are powered by bots.

The pros and cons of building your social media base through the use of fake followers are many and we’ll leave it to the experts linked to shed light on the matter. There are also ways to determine if a brand or business uses the fake-followers strategy to boost their image as a relevant brand.

People in the know and not so in the know will tell you that a sudden spike of followers is most likely due to the purchasing of fake followers.  That is a good, simple and easy way to spot deceiving brands.  But not many people know about Drip-Fed followers. In its unethical essence, it’s the same. Brands buy followers to enhance their feed visibility on Instagram while at the same time perking up their images. The difference is in its mechanism. Followers, likes and comments are purchased and fed at an X rate of followers per given period of time, say 35 new followers per day. That rate can even be manipulated to not be consistent giving the unaware public the impression of an organic growth (with real followers).

To not be deceived, check some Internet-available tools like this one and this one that can help us check on our favorite brands, companies or public personas.


At NUSA we believe in creating a brand that focuses on design and quality. We offer surfers an original range of surf wear that veers off mainstream surf fashion and that has even set design trends.  Naturally, we post photos of our unique designs and patterns as well as full product takes. We also post carefully selected and carefully framed surfing pictures of our fans and supporters surfing in our gear. Lifestyle photos are also part of our posts and feed.

But in the tightly competitive universe of the social media feed, where posts can easily get lost in its ever-expanding maze, colorful, original and attractive posts of our designs and clothing, surfing and lifestyle would not be enough. Could not be enough. For posts to consistently appear on followers feed, they need to be consistently engaging and of interest.

That’s where our Nusa’s Daily Surf Video Report came into play. For 5 years now we have been shooting, editing, posting in our site and sharing in our social media platforms our surf report. It has become a daily ritual that is an integral part of our approach to create brand awareness. We create it for all to watch in order to help surfers map out their surfing day. It is becoming more and more a morning staple of many surfers not only in Bali but also around the world.

We joined Instagram on December 2013. Around May 2014 we decided to create and upload everyday a short peek view of our main report posted in our website. With a video of just a few seconds our followers are able to get an overview of the surf conditions on the Bukit, Bali.  Previous Daily Surf Video Reports are archived so people can also see in our feed what we, as a brand, are about.

But we are also about keeping it real and that’s why we have stayed clear of buying Instagram followers.


Apart from the disadvantages of buying followers (even if the advantages may be tempting as they may increase brand awareness), there is something that goes deeper and larger than the objective analysis of the practicalities of such marketing strategies. Something that for us and others is much more important than achieving faster growth.

Public image creation, its development and sustainability, is undeniably a very important aspect of any brand or business. Public perception of a brand is exactly that: how people perceive a brand or business. Apart from the quality and design of their products and services, the image that is portrayed to the public is essential to the growth of any business. Especially in the surfing industry where this principle applies at exponential levels.

The surfer as an image is deeply rooted in the very core of the surfer as a concept and it has always played a decisive role in steering and shaping up surfing culture. It is part of what we are as surfers. Inevitably that sense of image is extrapolated to the surfing industry where image is king. That perception may translate into love, hate or apathy towards the brand. It is crucial, then, to care for the image. Professionals in the field are very skillful at studying, processing and implementing different theories, concepts, statistics and other various tools to give shape to that image. It’s not an easy, short or magical process. And it is certainly not something left to the whims of chance and whatever, (however successfully unintended and casual the final image may result to be). On the contrary, it’s a difficult, long and continuous process where images are carefully crafted and polished to best appeal to the desired market. The very best professionals are paid high sums to deliver quality and results, knowing that at certain levels of brand awareness, where brands are exposed to larger quantities of customers, a misstep can cause the brand huge economic losses as well as loss of face or a reshuffle all together. In the 1970´s, according to surf historian Matt Warshaw, Ocean Pacific posted by far the highest sales in the industry when it moved from the, until then, relatively small surfing market to the mainstream market of department stores without a well thought-out marketing strategy that would have allowed it to keep the surfers loyalty and, thus, both markets. Granted, the move brought in millions in revenues for years, but, ever since, Ocean Pacific has not been able to recover its image within the core of the surf market which according to analysts it will reach (if it hasn’t yet) a whopping US$13.2 Billion by 2017.

So, all those different elements used to design an image or marketing strategy, the aims pursued and the results translated into a good, solid image that appeals to the public are extremely important for any business or brand, and show a high level of knowhow, skills, professionalism and human ingenuity.  They are very valuable, they are an intrinsic part of every brand or business and they are valid.

There something that is not valid, however. Or at the very least, not for us: unethical strategies that purposely deceive people, falsifying reality while in turn creating a business environment where people and organizations may find themselves tempted, pressured or pushed to engage in unethical practices perpetuating, thus, a growing business  environment that viciously feeds and feeds off of unethical practices.

Some people may brush it off as something of no consequence. We strongly disagree. Social media is media and it has become a big part if not the biggest part of mass media today. Using it as a tool to falsify reality for personal gain is not only harmful to us as individuals but also detrimental to society at large.

Our previous Feature Article pieces have already explored and expressed our concern on this issue.

We believe that all of us, individuals, businesses and organizations should do our part to steer society to collectively create a more honest environment where integrity can become embedded in our consciousness as a way, means and goal of our actions. Influential individuals, big businesses and  renowned organizations bear, in the most positive sense of the word, (or should bear) a bigger responsibility in shaping up society for our present and future and for our children and grandchildren’s present and future.

Brushing it off as no big deal of any consequence is in itself a consequence of an environment where deception for personal gain is seen as normal, and worst, valid.

It’s up to each of us to do our small or bigger part in creating a better world. It’s not that hard. By adding our grain of sand or our truckload, individuals and organizations have the power to create a better future for those that will follow us.


Follow the links on this article and become aware of the issue. Take your time to research and read more about the major consequences of being deceived and deceiving people or contributing to an environment that deceives people. Take your time to think about it and make a responsible choice.

Keep your social media free of fake followers. You can use this tool to audit your Instagram account.

If you spot brands, businesses, organizations or individuals that use fake followers, let them know what you think about it or don’t follow them all together.

Support and follow brands and businesses that keep it honest and real.

Like and share this or any other article that addresses this issue.

Keep it simple. Keep it honest. Keep it real.


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