Big companies naturally have larger followings on Instagram — often because they have more money to produce fun and compelling content. So what are you, the aspirational blogger or small business owner, to do? How do you compete? If you were looking for a quick fix and thought searching online for ‘buy Instagram followers’ was a good way of going about it, then I implore you to give me five minutes to explain a few things first.
Before you buy Instagram followers
To begin with, it’s important to understand what Instagram is ultimately trying to achieve. What drives their business?
Instagram — just like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others — needs to sell advertising to be successful.
So Instagram needs our attention. They need us on their platform and they don’t want us to leave.
When Instagram’s computer algorithm decides which posts to show first, what do you think it looks at? It makes sense for them to show you posts that have demonstrated high engagement rates — after all, if 1,000 people click on or share a post, it must be of interest.
Beyond that, there are basic journalistic premises that have always been ‘newsworthy,’ such as recency and relevancy. So Instagram gives priority to posts that are more recent and that most closely match the viewer’s search terms.
Let’s understand the followers you’re buying
In less than a minute, you will find a handful of providers offering cheap deals to anyone willing to pay for instagram followers.
And it can be appealing — particularly if you’ve toiled away for months and haven’t managed to break the 500 mark … and have already exhausted your family and friends network.
But let’s be clear, they are fake followers, despite the claims made from these services. You just need to look at what they offer with a critical eye.
For example, one of the selling points is that you can have your followers within minutes of the payment being accepted.
Let that stew for a while.
Okay I’m wary, but it’s got to be worth the risk
Well if you believe everything these providers say, then yes it may be worth the risk. But let’s shine a light on a few of their claims.
Across the providers that I browsed, there were some common claims. Many said that paying for Instagram followers can:
Increase brand awareness
But who are they? Even if they were real, you’re not being told if they’re even in your target audience, so what’s the point of them being aware of your brand? They’re not buying what you have to sell.
Make you an influencer
Okay, I understand this is something people want to be. But again, an influencer over who? Understand that if you want to be an influencer who gets paid for their influence, sponsors will be looking for engagement. This is measured by actions taken — clicks, shares, etc.
If the majority of your followers are fake, then your engagement rates will be low — people who aren’t interested in you certainly won’t interact with your posts. So you simply won’t command the sort of money you hope to.
Save time and money
If your main reason for being on Instagram is to have as many followers as you can possibly acquire, then yes this is a great way to save time and money.
But if you want to have influence, if you want to build a community of people who love your brand and who will potentially buy your products, then paying for instagram followers won’t save you time or money. Particularly if Instagram chooses to purge your followers.
How can they possibly state this claim? What about when the ‘real’ followers you already have realise you’ve gone from 500 followers to 10,500 in one day? The trust that really matters among your ‘real’ followers will fade away very quickly — like overnight.
Plus it’s risk-free!
All providers appear to claim that there is absolutely no risk with buying Instagram followers. Some claim their state-of-the-art process protects you, others claim they understand Instagram’s algorithm.
Either way, even if you believe they are abiding by Instagram’s terms of service, they can’t promise you will never be banned or have your followers purged. They’re not inside Instagram HQ.
Nobody will find out, so what’s the harm?
There is a chance that your existing followers won’t notice and you will impress the heck out of future followers with your standout follower count. But understand that this practice does likely go against Instagram’s terms of service and ultimately presents a problem to their business.
One report suggested that fake Instagram fans cost brands USD$1.3 billion last year. This is a real problem for Instagram and you can bet they’re going to ramp up their threats to purge fake followers.
So is it worth the exercise?
When it comes down to it, engagement is the key
People take risks every day. So some people will ignore my warnings and decide that it is worth the risk to pay for Instagram followers anyway.
But like I mentioned earlier, engagement is key, whether:
- You want to be an influencer and earn corporate sponsorship money
- You own a business and want to build a community in order to promote your products/services
Yes, the providers selling fake Instagram followers promise you will see engagement.
So in the early days, you can expect to see likes and comments from your ‘new’ followers and this will vindicate your decision. But the engagement will fall away and it will become clear that you’ve tried to shortcut the process of building an influential Instagram account.
And when it does fall away, you’re going to be left with a large number of inactive followers. This will drive your overall engagement rate down and hurt your organic reach across the board, even to those that followed you because they do actually love your brand and want to see what you have to share.
Too good to be true
Ever heard the saying “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”? There are no quick and painless paths to success in any arena — whether building a successful business or growing a large and loyal Instagram following. So do it right. Take your time, post regularly and interact with followers. This is the one true way to become an influencer on Instagram.