Why you should never buy Instagram followers
Updated: Mar 5
Fake followers are everywhere. Sometimes it seems like every brand and celebrity purchases followers to inflate their social media numbers, especially on Instagram.
With everyone partaking in the practice, one might assume it’s an effective strategy. Buying followers or engagement on social media, especially Instagram, is actually bad for your business and your brand’s reputation.
In this article, we’ll take a look at why you shouldn’t buy Instagram followers and how you should go about marketing for your business.
Why do businesses purchase Instagram followers?
Before we get into why you should never buy followers or likes for your brand, it is important to understand why businesses choose to go this route.
Social media is a powerful force. With most consumers using some form of social media, you want to make sure that you’re reaching the largest audience possible.
Let’s say you just started a business and you’ve already invited friends and family to like your Instagram profile. You currently have 200 followers, but your direct competitors have 200,000 followers. Followers give businesses credibility. Many consumers will choose your competitor because it has a bigger follower base, and therefore appears more trustworthy.
Many online services sell followers for Instagram. While doing research into who sells followers, we found quite a range of pricing and features. Companies like LeoBoost offered 1,000 followers for $17, while Buzzoid offered that same service for $12.99. We even found ManagerGram, which sells a 1,000 followers/month service for $25. Ridiculously, LeoBoost allowed us to keep adding thousands of followers to our cart until we decided to stop at 210,000 followers for $357.
Buying followers is so inexpensive and easy to do, it’s no wonder many businesses and celebrities choose to use these services. With just a few clicks you can have thousands more followers and win over potential customers with your new follower count. Right?
Buying followers is a practice that not only looks bad, but it can get your company banned from using Instagram. Let’s take a closer look at what buying followers really does for your business,
What happens if I buy Instagram followers?
Hootsuite bought Instagram followers for an experiment in 2019, and results weren’t quite what a business would expect.
While you can buy services that slowly add followers to your profile to avoid suspicious spikes in growth, the quality of the accounts in the experiment were, well, not great. Hootsuite received the followers they paid for, but the followers did not like, comment, or otherwise engage in any of their posts or stories. Hootsuite also found that their followers eventually started to unfollow them (from 944 received to 882 remaining the next week).
That’s because most Instagram follower services are selling fake followers, accounts that are run by bots and not real people. Even when you look at services selling “real followers,” they are often still fake accounts that only engage with your content for a short time.
These followers don’t engage with your content, and they never purchase your products or services. They are, essentially, a trophy number.
Why you shouldn’t buy Instagram followers
As we mentioned in the previous section, buying followers doesn’t help your business sell anything. It only inflates the number of followers you have to hopefully entice someone to follow you or create a partnership for promotion.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work either.
Fake followers are easy to spot. An easy way to discover if a brand has fake followers is to look at their engagement rate.
According to the free Phlanx engagement calculator for Instagram, the average engagement rate for a page with 1,000 to 5,000 followers is 5.6%. That’s about 56 likes per post for a page with 1,000 followers. For a profile with 100,000 followers, there’s an average engagement rate of 2.05%, or 2,050 average engagements.
If a business bought a few thousand followers, those followers will not engage with the content being posted. So, if you see a business with 60,000 followers and only 300 likes per post, they likely bought their followers.
Consumers can also easily see if a brand bought followers by looking at the followers list. Usually accounts from these follower services have no profile photo, only a few or no posts of their own, or include links to adult websites. Often a follower service will also follow your page, which can sometimes be a dead giveaway that you are using their services.
This has the opposite effect on the consumer than what a business intended. Consumers who recognize that an account is using fake followers or fake engagement will no longer trust the brand.
Purchasing followers is also against Instagram’s community guidelines. To quote Instagram’s 2020 guidelines, “Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares.” Instagram states that violating any of its guidelines may “result in deleted content, disabled accounts, or other restrictions.”
By purchasing followers, you are violating Instagram’s terms of service and could have your account banned. All of your hard work that went into building a following and promoting your business could be gone in an instant.
Instagram also regularly purges fake followers and bots from the platform. So, even if those accounts you purchased continue following after a few weeks, Instagram may delete their accounts.
Additionally, by purchasing followers and likes, you won’t be able to track your Instagram profile’s organic growth as well. You will be getting a false sense of success when in reality these bot accounts are just following or liking your posts and not driving your business.
The bottom line is this: businesses have to make money to survive. You can’t sell anything to a fake follower, so why waste your valuable time and money on a vanity number?
What should I do instead of buying followers?
Buying followers or likes on Instagram is not a replacement for marketing. If you want to grow your following and promote your business, you need a solid marketing strategy.
The best way to grow on social media is to post quality content regularly and to engage with your audience. If you post content that’s appealing and in your niche, your audience will find you. Just be sure to engage with everyone who comments on your posts, and share the love with brands, organizations, and content that you enjoy. That way, your name gets out there more. Plus, people are more likely to reciprocate and like your content as well.
Also be on the lookout for new features and trends. Anytime Instagram rolls out something new (like Reels), it promotes that content more than just a standard photo post.
You should also look into switching to a business account if you haven’t already. This will let you see how many people have seen each post and where they arrived from (hashtags, search).
Instagram ads are also a viable way for promoting your business to new customers.
If you need an effective digital marketing strategy for your business, SilverFox can help! We have a team of talented graphic designers, writers, SEO professionals, and consultants in Utah and across the globe who will make your business dreams come true. Contact SilverFox today!