More often than not, making it big on Instagram feels like an uphill climb. This is especially the case when you’re new to the platform, whether as a brand or as an aspiring social media influencer. On top of choosing the right photos, monitoring hashtags, writing killer captions, and all the other aspects that play into your success on Instagram, you also need to worry about your follower count.
Before we dive deeper into that, though, let’s take a look at why getting Instagram followers is at the top of most people’s priority lists.
Why you’d want to get Instagram followers
The reason, of course, is obvious: Engagement is (pretty much) everything on Instagram.
Have you ever posted anything that you felt was “like-worthy” and wondered why it didn’t get much attention? Worse, have you ever looked at a friend’s random selfie and found the “likes” reaching hundreds within minutes? That’s exactly what this situation is like, except now, there’s so much more than just your personal pride at stake.
Here’s the cold, hard reality. Advertisers will only want to partner up with social media influencers with decent numbers. By numbers, we mean follower count, average likes per post, and so on.
In the case of brands, users are generally more likely to follow brands that appear to be more popular. And of course, popularity means having more followers.
Add that to the fact that Instagram’s algorithm places emphasis on engagement as the most significant measure of how popular a post is (and thus, how likely it will show up when you go to the Explore section of your feed).
In other words, more people will see your posts if you get more likes and comments. And to get more likes and comments, you need more people following you, so that they’ll see your posts. This is pretty much a self-fulfilling cycle — a dog chasing its own tail, if you will.
Sure, you can break your back coming up with awesomely mind-blowing content that beats everyone else’s. However, if no one’s there to see all of it, drumming up excitement for your brand or profile would seem like a fruitless endeavor. You’d be like the proverbial tree that falls in a lonely forest, with no one to hear the sound.
Even worse, you’ll have a huge headache on your hands as you try to compete with other brands or influencers who are way ahead of you in terms of follower count.
That said, what’s a fledgling brand or influencer-in-the-making to do in order to get a leg up in this fast-paced, unforgiving game of getting more Instagram followers?
Can you buy Instagram followers?
The short answer here is yes.
It’s possible to buy Instagram followers, and it doesn’t really come with a hefty price tag. In fact, you can easily find service providers that would be more than happy to sell you followers by the thousands. Typically, these packages cost as low as USD 6 for 500 followers, and USD 10 to get 1,000 followers.
For Instagram users who are just eager to put the pedal to the metal in terms of growing their follower count, it seems like a no-brainer to just buy Instagram followers.
Unfortunately, while this may give you a hefty number boost and short-term satisfaction, paying your way through isn’t exactly the best way to go about this. In fact, you could very well end up tanking your own Instagram brand-building efforts; not only will this waste your budget, but it could put you out of business, too!
The issue when you buy followers for Instagram is much deeper than you think, though. And it’s not all bad; there are a few benefits when you get Instagram followers by purchasing them. The question is: Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
If you want to know exactly why it’s not a good idea to buy Instagram followers, keep reading.
The problem when you buy followers for Instagram
Here’s the thing: There’s more to building your following on Instagram than just, well, building your following.
It may look like you’re doing a good job of growing your follower count when you buy Instagram followers. Your numbers are actually increasing, and you’re probably getting more and more likes and comments than you’ve ever gotten after months of patiently waiting for your following to grow organically. Some Instagram users may even genuinely start following you after seeing your posts raking in all that traffic. They’re probably thinking, “Hey, this brand is legit! Definitely worth following.”
The problem isn’t what you can see in this situation; it’s what you can’t.
Remember when we mentioned that Instagram’s algorithm focuses on engagement? It’s the same series of internal calculations that Instagram uses in determining whether or not to show your post to audiences.
Here’s the thing, though: The algorithm is also smart enough to measure your follower-to-engagement ratio. In other words, even if you have a million followers on Instagram, if only a couple of hundred users actually engage with your posts, Instagram will know that, to quote Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of Denmark. If that happens, your content will show up on the feeds of even fewer users, effectively buried under everyone else’s.
But wait, you say. You have more followers now — doesn’t that automatically translate to more engagement?
Well, not necessarily. Why? Because most of the users added to your follower count when you buy followers for Instagram are… fake accounts. Meaning, they’re fictitious accounts made for the sole purpose of being sold to shifty brands or influencers to boost their follower counts, with no actual human beings behind the accounts to provide meaningful engagement.
In other words, if your follower count were a hamburger patty, it’s not 100% beef.
Say you just bought a ton of followers and wanted to test this theory. When you add a popular hashtag among your target audience (say, #ketodiet) to your caption, you’ll expect to see your post when you search for it, right?
Unfortunately, the “Top Posts” you’re likely to get are the real top posts — meaning, posts from accounts that not only have tons of followers, but also have the engagement numbers to back that up.
That’s not the only way Instagram can punish you for buying followers, though.
Way back in November 2018, Instagram cracked down on fake likes, comments, and followers. The platform specifically targeted brands and influencers who used underhanded means to boost their metrics. Some found their follower counts drastically cut in half, as if mighty Thanos with his Infinity Gauntlet had snapped them out of existence.
And those users got off lightly. In some instances, users who bought likes and followers got outright banned from the platform. Their IP addresses are also restricted from accessing the site. Still thinking about buying followers?
Let’s be fair, though. If you really wanted to get to the heart of the issue, buying Instagram followers isn’t really the problem. It’s buying fake followers. Sadly, it’s impossible to tell whether the followers you’ll be getting are genuine or not. In reality, you’ll only really be able to find out when they’re already there. Ask any brand or influencer worth their salt, and they’d tell you that this risk isn’t one worth taking.
Still not convinced that you should never buy likes, or don’t think you’ll get caught? That’s not the only way you could find yourself in a hot mess for buying fake Instagram followers. Keep reading.
No one’s really happy when you buy followers
Here’s the reality of the situation: You’ll want both your audience and potential advertisers to be happy with your brand. Growing your follower count through your wallet is tantamount to deception, though, and you can be sure that neither of those stakeholders will be pleased when they find out about it.
Nobody likes getting tricked, obviously. These days, with the rampant misinformation and fake news on social media, authenticity and sincerity are valued more than anything else. So how do you think your real followers would feel when they find out that a good chunk of the accounts following you are fake?
Before you ask — yes, they’ll definitely be able to tell if you have fake followers. Some of the most telltale signs are if:
- The number of likes compared against the number of comments is disproportionate;
- You have way too few likes or comments on your posts despite having a high number of followers;
- The accounts that follow you aren’t active or don’t have profile photos; and
- You have followers that are clearly just fronts for follower-purchasing operations.
It’s painfully obvious when you have 100,000 followers but only 20 likes that most of those followers aren’t interacting with you. But if they aren’t interacting with you, then why are they following you in the first place? And for the discerning consumer, it wouldn’t take long to piece together the clues and find out what’s really going on.
And then, when they do find out, how do you think they could go on trusting you? If you aren’t even genuine enough to get real people invested in you, then what does that say about whatever it is you’re selling? Your real followers will then start unfollowing you, one by one or perhaps even in droves, until all you’ll have left are your fake, non-interacting followers. Your content will show up less and less on the feeds of the rest of the Instagram world, and you’ll eventually find yourself stuck in your own little echo chamber of fraudulence.
That’s just from the point of view of the audience. What about advertisers? Think about it: If you were an advertising agency, would you want to partner up with someone who has fake followers? Isn’t that a waste of money? Why would you bother pouring your advertising budget into someone who wouldn’t even be able to deliver the results you need? All they need to do is check your engagement ratio, and you can bet that they’ll be running away from you faster than you can say “fake following.”
Buy followers, fool yourself
Here’s another problem with buying Instagram followers: If you don’t get Instagram followers the authentic way, you won’t get authentic results.
The best thing that those fake followers can do for you is like your posts. This creates the illusion that your posts are gaining more traffic than they actually are. Unfortunately, your fake followers can’t and won’t buy anything from you, because, well, they’re not real! They have neither the capacity nor the intention to spend money on your products — which is why you’re on Instagram in the first place — and thus can never become advocates of your brand.
Now, imagine how much havoc that wreaks on your marketing strategy. How will you be able to find out what works and what doesn’t if your only way of measuring your success lies in the imaginary hands of a bunch of Instagram bots and fake accounts? You won’t be able to identify the weak areas of your marketing. Thus, you’ll keep repeating the same mistakes and getting the same results.
Eventually, your follower-to-engagement ratio will be so skewed that you’ll wish your fake followers would just stop following you. Hear that? That’s the sound of your Instagram marketing budget flying straight into the garbage bin.
So, should you buy Instagram followers?
In a nutshell, any plan to buy Instagram followers should be the very last thing on your mind.
Instead of wanting a large follower count the fast and easy way, work hard on it. Earn it. Deliver fresh and helpful content that appeals to your audience; pour all that money into market research instead of fake followers, and you’ll get a better return on your investment.
Don’t risk your account and your reputation on a “solution” that could even get you banned from the platform. Besides, you’ll feel a lot better knowing that the people who follow you genuinely, sincerely like you and what you do.