You may know your Instagram content is good, but just imagine how much better it will look if 10,000 people agree.
Whether you’re trying to become a celebrity on social media or just spreading your brand awareness on Instagram, it can seem tempting to use shortcuts wherever you can to expand your audience, including “buying” from Instagram followers.
Here we’ve covered all of the questions about buying Instagram followers to give you a better idea of how it actually works. We also examined the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself if this is a good move for your brand.
Can you buy Instagram followers?
Yes, you can buy Instagram followers. There are many cheap services out there that can help you buy 1,000 followers for as little as $ 10. But you only pay for one number. Many of these followers are either bots or inactive accounts, which means they will never bother with your posts.
1,000 followers seem like good deal for the price of a small Starbucks latte. But of course, if it were really that cheap and easy, everyone would. So what’s the catch? Is Buying Instagram Followers Legal and Safe for Your Business? Is It A Good Investment?
The main reason buying Instagram followers can turn out to be a wasted investment is because the accounts you follow are often not real.
Buying ‘fake’ Instagram followers
The vast majority of buyable followers are either bots or inactive accounts. This is how it works:
As of 2018, Instagram may have up to 95 million bots, which is roughly 9.5% of its total user base. There are companies that have automated the process of creating bots so well that they can then sell those bots as followers. In some cases, the bots can even impersonate a real person using stolen pictures and names.
Depending on the service, these dummy accounts can even appear organic and run automatically to share and like content. Some can even be programmed to produce content. However, since they’re not real people, they don’t have an organic looking follower to follower ratio. As a result, the commitment they generate will have little impact.
Without real followers engaging with your content, your posts are essentially hidden from everyone except your fake audience. Also, your bot followers won’t discuss your brand with friends or family in real life because they don’t exist in real life (no offense, bots).
However, not all fake followers are bots. There are some companies that sell followers that are real accounts.
In this situation, the accounts are created either because they are managed by users whose sole aim is to be pursued in return, or for the sole reason of offering that service. And while these followers may show engagement early on, they’ll ultimately drain your Instagram account’s performance metrics when their accounts go inactive.
If their account was created solely to fulfill sponsorship requests, the real person behind the account has little reason to bother with the news feed, interact with content, or purchase the advertised goods and services.
Without this interaction, your follower numbers will not be inflated with any of the values that organic followers would bring.
When you buy Instagram followers, you only pay for one number. Engagement is not guaranteed or even likely.
Not only can you buy followers directly, but you can also pay for services to strategically track other accounts on your behalf based on your preferences (location, hashtag usage, account type and gender). Ideally, those tracked accounts will then follow you back.
With this option, your followers are more likely to be real people, but engagement is still unlikely. Since you can’t even guarantee that these accounts will follow you, it’s a risky investment. Most accounts don’t follow you back, and even if they do, they likely won’t be long-term, loyal, or active followers.
Should You Buy Instagram Followers?
Buying Instagram followers is not a good idea. The followers you buy are likely to be bots or inactive accounts, so they won’t interact with your posts. This means that your posts won’t appear on Explore Pages or in your real audience’s news feeds. This also makes it difficult to measure metrics.
They get engaged early on, which rejuvenates.
Purchased Instagram followers also do not provide long-term value for the content of your profile. The followers you buy may give you views, likes and comments early on in order to gain them as a follower, but the attention they give you now will not be there later – when you start thinking about your Instagram’s performance -Account report.
And how helpful are 10,000 followers who aren’t interested in you? Engagement is key to how the Instagram algorithm displays posts to users. Without likes or comments, your post will likely not show up in your audience’s news feeds, nor will it show up on Explore pages.
You could violate your credibility.
Lots of followers might convince users to follow you organically, but this is not a guarantee.
Think about the risks: these followers will likely never like or comment on a post, and if you get caught with a bunch of fake followers, you can ruin your credibility with your real audience.
Users may notice that you don’t have a lot of engagement on your posts, which could keep them from following you. If you have 10,000 followers but only four likes per post, it won’t take people long to realize something is wrong.
Think of it this way: Would you keep following an account if you saw that most of your “loyal listeners” are inactive accounts or bots? I guess not. It could seem deceptive and lead you to believe that the brand couldn’t get authentic followers from good content alone.
Purchased Instagram followers can skew your performance metrics.
It’s practically impossible to measure how well your audience is connecting to your brand if a high percentage of that audience isn’t real. How are you going to measure posts that fit well with your real-world audience when those bots and inactive accounts are skewing the relationship?
If you don’t know how good your posts are or what your real audience thinks, you will never turn your Instagram followers into real customers. And isn’t that the point?
When you pay for Instagram followers, you end up not paying for high quality, real followers. You pay for a blank number. And since Instagram’s algorithm is largely tied to engagement rather than followers, buying followers is not a long-term solution. In fact, it’s not a solution at all.
Take the time, energy, and money that you would have spent buying followers and instead focus on building real relationships with real audiences. If your content is engaging and authentic, your loyal followers will get the word out and engage with your brand without the need for bribes.
Instagram identifies and deletes fake followers
Recently, Instagram updated its Terms of Service to identify and remove inauthentic accounts from its platform. Instagram removes any likes, follows, or comments from third-party apps that are designed to artificially increase the audience of the accounts. By purchasing followers, you are violating Instagram’s community guidelines and may trigger a reaction from Instagram moderators.
Instagram strives to maintain real interactions on its website and to protect real accounts and experiences. Counterfeit or purchased activity violates this mission and can have consequences. Hence, it is better to grow your audience organically.
Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers
Instagram’s new algorithm rewards engagement more than the number of followers and displays content similar to what users have been engaged in in the past. To encourage engagement, there are many different promotions that you can try on the platform in order to reach your ideal audience.
By using good Instagram marketing practices – whether you’re building your personal brand or a business account – you can better reach out to Instagram’s nearly 800 million monthly users and build an authentic audience.
1. Make your account public.
First, make your account public so that users can see your profile and content. This is a great way to organically grow your target audience when your content shows up on users’ exploration pages and engages and excites your audience.
2. Give users a reason to follow you by posting quality content.
Next, publish a variety of posts to your feed: you can post images, GIFs, videos, boomerangs, quizzes about your story, how-tos, user-generated content, and much more. Build trust and excitement with your followers by using quality photos, writing catchy captions, posting consistently, and overall maintaining a unique style to stand out from other accounts. Research which hashtags are getting a lot of buzz and which are branded-specific – hashtags can be a great way to reach new audiences if done correctly.
Depending on your brand personality, it can be helpful to be funny or humorous in your content. Knowing exactly how your brand is perceived and what trends are centering around Instagram will be a great way to choose content to post and how to interact with your Instagram community.
3. Make full use of Instagram.
Finally, use the many different channels on the platform, such as Instagram Live, IGTV, Instagram Stories or Shopping on Instagram. There are so many different ways to connect with users. When you increase engagement through these features, you can increase engagement and traffic organically and authentically.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for completeness.