Even if you know your Instagram content is great, it can be difficult to stay motivated when you don’t see Instagram followers growth. Everything feels better when you get 10 000 likes.
Whether you’re trying to advance your Etsy business or become a social media celebrity, it can be tempting to look for shortcuts for expanding your audience. Especially things like buying followers. Today, we’ll take a look at why buying followers isn’t the right way to expand your audience. We’ll take a look at a few of the most common questions, and explore the pros and cons of buying followers so that you can make an informed decision.+
Should You Buy Instagram Followers?
Of course, buying Instagram followers is distressingly easy. There are hundreds of cheap services which will allow you to buy 1000 followers for as little as $10 USD. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), these are not real followers – they’re just numbers. These ‘followers’ will be bots or inactive accounts, which means that they’ll never actually engage with your posts. What’s the point of having 1 million followers if less than 1% ever engage with your posts?
While it might seem like a good deal – 1000 followers for the price of a decent cup of coffee – it’s not really that easy. If buying followers was the secret to real Instagram followers growth, everyone would be doing it. Followers mean nothing without engagement, so even if you can buy followers, it’s probably a wasted investment.
Buying ‘Fake’ Instagram Followers
When you buy Instagram followers, it’s likely that those followers will be bots or inactive accounts. Here’s how that works:
As of 2018, around 9.5% of Instagram’s total user base may be bots – a number totalling around 95 million. There are companies who have automated the bot-creating process, with the aim of then selling these bots as followers. In some cases, the bots may even assume the identity of a real person, making use of stolen names and images. In some cases, these bots may even seem organic, using automation to like content and share their own. Some can also be programmed to produce their own content.
Of course, all the automation and AI in the world won’t make them real people, so they will never have an organic following-to-follower ratio. Because of this, any engagement that they do produce won’t have much of an impact.
In the end, your posts will remain essentially hidden from everyone except your inauthentic audience without any real followers to engage with your content. Additionally, your bot followers won’t ever discuss your brand with their friends or family in real life – because they don’t actually exist in real life.
Of course, not all fake followers are bots. Some companies sell followers who are real accounts. These accounts are often created by users whose only goal is to get more followers. With their only goal being getting followed in return, these accounts can’t really be called authentic. While they may show some early engagement, the accounts will inevitably go dormant. This will become a massive drain on your accounts performance metrics. This is definitely not the right way to achieve Instagram followers growth.
Understandably, if their account was only created to fulfill sponsorship requests, whoever created the account doesn’t necessarily have a reason to be scrolling through their newsfeed, or interact with any content. Either way, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be purchasing any of your goods or services.
Without engagement, your followers will just be an inflated number, with none of the value that a large amount of organic followers would bring. When you buy Instagram followers, you’re only buying a number. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get any engagement. In fact, it’s unlikely that you will.
Besides these follower-driven accounts, you can also pay for a service which strategically follows other accounts on your behalf. These will be based on your preferences, including gender, account type, hashtags and locations. These followed accounts will ideally follow you back, creating Instagram followers growth.
This way, your followers will be real people, but high levels of engagement are still unlikely. Because you cannot guarantee that these accounts will follow you back, it can be a risky strategy to achieve Instagram followers growth. The sad fact is that most accounts won’t follow back, and even those that do won’t be active and loyal followers who will engage with your content.
Are Bought Followers a Good Way to Achieve Instagram Followers Growth?
All of this being said, buying Instagram followers is not a good idea. Not only are they inevitably going to be inactive accounts or bots, they almost definitely won’t engage with your content. This means that you won’t show up on the Explore page, or even on your audience’s feeds. This will make it more difficult to be discovered by real users who may enjoy your content.
This will also make it that much more difficult to accurately measure your metrics.
You’ll Get Early Engagement That Tapers Off.
When you buy Instagram followers, you’re not gaining any long-term value for your profile. Any followers you buy might hike up your view count, and may even provide likes through automation, or even comments early on if they are real accounts. Unfortunately, this won’t last.
How helpful are 10 000 followers, really, if none of them engage with you? If you have 10 000 followers and only 5 likes per post, your performance metrics aren’t going to look too great.
And engagement is key to the Instagram algorithm. Posts with the most engagement are the ones most likely to be shown to other users, on their feeds or on the Explore page. Without any comments or likes, your posts probably won’t even show up on your actual audience’s feeds.
You Could Hurt Your Credibility.
Having a huge number of followers could convince other users to follow you, through FOMO, but obviously, there’s no guarantee. There are also risks involved with buying Instagram followers. Because your bought followers likely won’t engage with your content, your entire account could look suspicious. If you’re caught with a bunch of fake followers, you could lose credibility with your real audience.
Users will likely notice that you have a huge following, but almost no engagement. This could deter them from following you in the long run. As we’ve said, if you have 10 000 followers, but only 5 likes per post, people will notice that there’s something fishy going on.
Think of it like this: why would you follow an account if you notice that most of their audience is inactive. Or worse – bots. These kinds of accounts often seem deceitful, and it makes it seem like the brand can’t actually get any organic, authentic followers on their own.
Bought Instagram Followers can Distort Your Performance Metrics.
If a high percentage of the audience is not genuine, it is virtually impossible to measure how well your target audience is engaged with your brand. If those bots and inactive accounts distort the ratio, how can you assess posts that perform well with your real audience?
You will never turn your Instagram followers into real customers if you don’t know how well your posts are doing or what your real audience thinks. And isn’t that the point?
Ultimately, you’re not paying for quality, real-life followers if you pay for Instagram followers. You pay for a number that’s meaningless. And since the algorithm of Instagram is primarily tied to interaction, not fans, it is not a long-term solution to buy followers. No, it’s really not a solution at all.
Take the time, energy, and cash you would have spent purchasing followers, and concentrate on creating meaningful relationships with a real audience instead.
Your loyal fans will spread the word and engage with your brand if your content is engaging and genuine.
Instagram Identifies and Purges Fake Followers
On its platform, Instagram aims to preserve authentic relationships, preserving actual accounts and experiences.
Fake or bought activity infringes upon this mission and might result in consequences, so it’s better to grow your audience organically.
Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers
Instagram’s new algorithm rewards engagement over follower content, and now displays content which is similar to that which users have engaged with in the past. This means that follower count isn’t necessarily the be-all-and-end-all. There are a few different ways you can drive traffic and engagement on the platform, and a few different actions you can take to get in front of your ideal audience.
By making use of some good Instagram marketing practices, you can get your brand in front of the nearly 800 million monthly Instagram users. This will help you build an authentic and engaged audience without having to shell out for bots.
1. Make your account public.
This one should be obvious, but we’ll throw it out there anyway. Make sure that your account is public so that everyone will be able to see your profile and content. By doing so, you can grow your audience organically, as your content will be more likely to pop up on the Explore page.
2. Give users a reason to follow you by publishing quality content.
Another relatively obvious one, but the best way to achieve Instagram followers growth is to ensure that you’re publishing a variety of engaging post types to your feeds. You can post GIFs, images, videos, quizzes and Boomerangs, as well as how-tos and user-generated content.
You can build trust and excitement with your followers by making use of high-quality images, writing clever captions and keeping you content unique. This will help you to differentiate your content from other accounts.
You should also do some research on which hashtags to use to generate buzz around your posts. Only use hashtags which align with your brand tone. This can be an excellent way to grow your audience. But only if done correctly.
The type of content you produce will also depend heavily on your brand personality. Provided your brand personality allows for it, it can help to create content that is either funny or witty. You should also be aware of how your brand is perceived by your audience, as well as some of the trends going around on Instagram. These will help you to create the most engaging content, and really connect with the Instagram community.
3. Use Instagram to its fullest capability.
Make use of as many different channels on the platform as you can, such as IGTV, Instagram Live, Stories, or Shopping on Instagram. These different channels provide a multitude of ways to connect with your audience and drive engagement. Make sure you utilise as many of these features as you can to drive traffic and engagement organically and authentically.