Why You Should Never Buy Instagram Followers

Brian Powers
Brian Powers
Why You Should Never Buy Instagram Followers

All new Instagram page owners struggle to get their stuff off the ground, but unfortunately, there's really no alternative than putting in the time and effort to create the right content and publish it to the right people. Buying Instagram followers - or followers on any other social media platform is a terrible idea. 

tl;dr: Never buy Instagram followers or likes. It will hurt you far more than it will help. Here's all kinds of reasons. You will:

  • Destroy your reach and engagement
  • Waste money
  • Break the rules and risk your accounts
  • Support sketchy or exploitative businesses
  • Make your analytics data worthless
  • Influencers and partners will shun you
  • You'll feel bad (and you should!)

Believe me when I say that I know exactly how hard it is to build a new social media page from nothing. I've done it several times, and each time it's, well... a labor of love, that's for sure. The first thousand followers or so are always the hardest, and if your brand doesn't already operate in a highly visual or videogenic space (most of which are super-saturated anyway), it's even harder.

With more and more pages to compete with, it may often seem pretty hopeless, even for social media managers at mid-to-large companies. 

But, as with most things in life, cheating isn't the solution. When you buy Instagram followers, here's what's you're risking:

Buying Instagram followers is against Meta's terms of service.... duh

Setting aside whether it works for a moment (spoiler: it doesn't), it's definitely not okay with Meta. Instagram can tell the difference between authentic followers, inactive accounts, and bots better than you can, and they will take action against your account if they detect certain patterns.

Instagram is all about promoting authenticity these days. Whether the airbrushed content you see on Insta is authentic or not is difficult to tell, but the algorithm itself prefers natural likes and shares by real people as a way to judge whether accounts are legitimate or not.

Just don't break the rules and you won't have to worry about this. It's common sense. Don't buy Instagram followers.

We wrote another article about identifying quality followers in the past, and what to do with the ones you don't want, which you can take a look at here.

Fake Instagram followers will break your reach and engagement

Here's the big one and the primary reason you should not purchase followers on this platform (or any platform).

The whole reason you bought these followers was probably to boost these things. More people = more activity, comments, likes, shares, and, ideally, sales, right?

Except, the opposite is actually true when your followers aren't real.

First and foremost, purchased IG followers are almost universally fake, or at least inactive. So, obviously they won't like, share, or otherwise touch your content. They won't even see it since they aren't real and don't log in.

Instagram's algorithms share organic content based on a number of factors, but one of the most important (and most important KPIs to track on Instagram) is your engagement rate. This means likes, shares, comments, bookmarks, etc.

Let's say that you have 1,000 followers. Just to illustrate my point, let's also say you have a 20% organic reach rate (we can dream, right?). 

For every post you create, about 200 people see it appear on their feed. Instagram sees this and goes "Hey, not too bad, this content seems to appeal to its follower base, so it must be decent quality, let's show it to more people!"

But, the opposite is true as well.

Let's say you get desperate and decide to spend some money to buy 9,000 more followers.

You should now have 2,000 people see your content, right? 

No. Very wrong.

You now have.... 200 people seeing your content. Probably the same 200 people as before. 

The problem here is that those 200 people are suddenly a much, much smaller piece of your total, which tanks your engagement rate to a tragic 2%. Instagram sees this and goes "What? Hold the phone! You must now make terrible content your followers no longer want to see. We're not going to show them this crap, so now you get even less than 2% reach."

If you don't want that to be you, don't buy Instagram followers.

Note: these numbers are for illustrative purposes only. 20% engagement is outrageous.

Buying Instagram followers wrecks your analytics

As we just discussed in the above scenario, your new, totally deserved 2% organic reach is not representative of your real follower count. Any and all KPIs that you now see are virtually worthless due to being diluted by so many disengaged profiles.

Take a look at our top KPIs guide, and just try to envison what could go wrong with 10,000 fake followers diluting your results. Don't think your quarterly performance report is going to look very appealing to your stakeholders, just saying.

It's a bad look and others will notice

Nobody wants to partner with a bad social media page. Whether you're trying to attract influencers to help promote your products, or you're looking to partner up with other businesses with a common goal, you won't succeed if they notice that you're doing shady stuff.

If your tainted page has no meaningful reach or engagement, it won't help them reach their own social media goals, so you probably won't be approached for collaborations at all. 

Don't buy Instagram followers.

It's a waste of money

Obviously, since it doesn't work, it's clearly a waste of money. Purchasing Instagram followers is actually not very expensive - probably because it's basically a non-service and a scam. Some sites will provide thousands of followers for less than $50 USD, which makes it tempting to buy a lot of them. 

There is basically no return on investment here because these accounts aren't going to buy your stuff and they aren't going to boost your profiles.

Instead, if you've got money earmarked for social and would like to get followers a more legit way, try advertising or promoted posts instead. Targeted ads have a much higher return on investment and are intended to attract authentic users who are genuinely interested in your content. While Instagram doesn't always get it right, at least you're not breaking any terms of service and your chances of success are way higher

Buying Instagram followers supports shady, exploitative businesses

Generally speaking, services that go against the rules tend to have to fly under the radar.

Many services that offer cheap social media followers rely on click farms. These are setups where low-paid workers, often in developing countries, are hired to create multiple fake accounts or to manually follow specific accounts. These workers often work under poor conditions for minimal pay. Here's a great article from way back in 2015(!) about these farms and how they operate.

These click and bot farms may also support criminal activities. In fact, a warning issued in an extensive report on social media and cybercrime by NATO's Strategic Communications Center (Yes, THAT NATO!) has indicated that these services may funnel money into organized crime groups that contribute to the destabilization of all sorts of stuff that we'd really prefer remain stable.

Does buying Instagram followers help the terrorists win? I don't know, but wouldn't it just be better to not take that chance?

Furthermore, there's no way these companies are secure places to be sending your credit card info anyway. Read this if you'd like to learn more about staying safe on social. 

But what if I already bought Instagram followers?!

Well, that was a bad move. There are really only two things you can do in this case and they depend entirely on where your organization is in its social media growth maturity.

If your Instagram page is relatively new and has relatively few followers, you're probably better just taking the axe to it and starting over. You can make a new account and leave a notice on your old, bad account to your real followers suggesting that they follow your new one. Hopefully some will follow.

The only other alternative, particularly if your page is already established, is to double down on your recovery. It could take a long time and a lot of top-notch content to drag yourself back out of your poor organic reach and engagement pit, but with time you should be able to recover. You can also do your best to remove obviously fake accounts, but this can be tedious and time-consuming. 

Facelift can help you grow organically

Your social media orchestration success is important to us, and if you're considering buying followers (or already have), we understand that you're probably feeling like you're in a tight spot and could use a hand. 

With Facelift, not only can you grow your audience organically, but you can do so with tools designed to enhance real engagement. Our comprehensive data and reporting tool, Analyze, allows you to monitor what truly resonates with your followers, enabling smarter, data-driven decision making.

Furthermore, Facelift's scheduling and campaign planning capabilities ensure your content reaches the right people at the right time, maximizing visibility and interaction. Let us help revitalize your social media strategy and discover the power of authentic growth.

Schedule a demo with our product experts and we'll show you exactly what you can expect.banner-free-demo-2

Brian Powers
Brian Powers

More about the author

A New Yorker in Germany, Brian is Facelift's content marketing manager. With over a decade of experience in content and social, he is responsible for managing Facelift's content, which includes the blog, guides and downloads
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