In recent years, it feels as if organic social reach is on the decline. While there’s some debate as to what’s directly causing this phenomenon (Algorithms! Too many networks! More paid social!), social marketers can all agree it’s one challenge that calls for some creative problem solving.

Some brands are choosing to take a direct approach, asking for follows and Likes in exchange for something else. The Sacramento Kings, for example, have turned this tactic into a regular Friday ritual where fans can get a follow back from their favorite team only after they Retweet and Like a Tweet.

But asking for follows can attract people who aren’t actually interested in your brand and requesting Likes or Retweets can artificially inflate your engagement metrics. While these ideas can generate quick wins for marketers and help push goals over the finish line, these social media gimmicks ought to be used sparingly—if at all.

Hear me out…

Relying on short wins and social media tricks makes it harder for your brand to build long-lasting communities and create meaningful engagement with your real fans.

Brands sometimes employ social stunts, like offering a sneak peek or some kind of reward, in exchanging for increasing their follower count. For example, a brand might share a teaser of an upcoming show or host a giveaway if they reach a certain follower milestone. While this may help brands quickly grow their audience, it’s also likely that some of their new followers were only interested in the giveaway and will unfollow that brand once the contest is over.

Another social ploy brands occasionally use to increase awareness and engagement is shock value—a potentially risky move because of the backlash it can inspire. Publishing a controversial statement is bound to attract a lot of attention but erodes the trust you’ve already established with your existing followers. Factor in the fact that social algorithms tend to prioritize content that sparks conversation and (occasionally) controversy, and you may find your brand suddenly in hot water.

That’s not to suggest certain quick wins should never be part of one’s social strategy. When strategically employed, these tricks afford brands a quick visibility boost and get their name in front of potential customers. Triscuit, for example, more than doubled their audience in 24 hours by promising to give their social media manager a three-day weekend if they hit a certain milestone.

But it’s one thing to use gimmicks sparingly and another to depend on them to meet your social goals. You don’t need a deep understanding of your audience’s preferences to get a sudden influx of followers. The Triscuit example makes it clear that sometimes, all you need to do is ask. But you do need to know what your audiences likes and dislikes to build a community that lasts and create content that drives people to buy from your brand. More than half (51%) of consumers define feeling connected to a brand when a brand understands them and their wants, while 45% will unfollow brands on social that post irrelevant content.

Consistently leveraging these social tactics is a good sign that something within your social strategy is broken. If you’re struggling to engage your audience, take a step back to analyze what content your followers find most engaging and which pieces of content are simply glossed over. Or, if you notice your audience growth is stagnant, tools like social listening enable you to identify the topics and conversations that will attract more of your prospective customers.

At the end of the day, brands that succeed on social consistently demonstrate a deep understanding of their target audience. Ditch the quick wins and invest the time to get to know your audience on a personal level—social media gimmicks won’t save your strategy in the long run.

Looking for more inspiration on how to remove gimmicks from your toolbox and elevate your social strategy? Check out our article on building your social marketing strategy for 2021 and beyond today.