Don’t fall into this Instagram trap

4 min read

Back in 2014, you couldn’t turn on the radio or walk into any establishment playing music without hearing #Selfie by the Chainsmokers at some point. 

Hate it or love it, it’s a song of our times. But there’s one line from the lyrics that instantly popped into our minds as we sat down to write this blog post - “She definitely bought all her Instagram followers.” 

Back then, it seemed like a great shortcut for influencers and up-and-coming businesses. Why invest months and months of work into building a following when you could gain thousands of followers in a few clicks?

But as with everything in life, nothing good or lasting comes easily. Not even IG followers. 

We would have hoped that by 2020, businesses would realize this is NOT a smart move and can hurt your social media for a looong time, but not so much. 

We still have people asking us if they should buy their first few thousand followers. 

Short answer: Don’t do it!

Here’s why.

Simply, it’s bad business

You’re not getting quality followers

It might be tempting to shell out $10 and magically get 1,000 new followers liking and commenting your content. But, that’s not really how it works. What you’re really buying is just the number that appears at the top of your profile. Your new “followers” are most likely bots or inactive accounts that will never engage with your content.

There are also services out there that will follow other accounts based on your specifications, like location, hashtag usage, account type, or gender, with the goal of having these accounts follow you back. The followers you do receive will probably be real accounts, but follow-backs aren’t guaranteed and engagement with your content is once again unlikely. These aren’t loyal or long-term followers. 

You’ll lose credibility

If you rack up a bunch of fake followers, you could hurt your relationship with your real audience. And they’re the ones that matter. Imagine if you realized that a business account you were following had a huge audience of bots. It would seem like a scam on one hand and on the other hand, you would think that the company’s content or service/product wasn’t good enough to attract real users. 

The algorithm won’t work in your favor

Instagram’s algorithm is based on engagement and without any comments, likes, saves, or shares from your fake audience, your content will never reach potential real followers via ranking highly on explore or hashtag pages. 

You won’t be able to judge your performance

Basically, you will have no idea how your content or brand is being received by your target audience because of all the fake accounts skewing your results. If you don’t know what your real audience is thinking, how will you ever convert followers into customers? At the end of the day, that is the point of social media - building relationships and gaining new customers because of those relationships. 

Instagram will sanction you

Yup, they know what’s going on. Instagram will remove likes, comments, and follows generated by third-party apps. Artificially growing your audience violates their community guidelines, meaning moderators will react by limiting your ability to post, like, follow, or comment on the platform. These consequences can severely hurt your performance on Instagram and stunt your business’ potential.

The Fix: Build real relationships with a real audience

It takes time, energy, and money to build an account that will attract and keep followers, but it is the only way to truly harness the power of social media. Thousands of fake followers won’t bring sales, but a few hundred real fans will. 

Buying followers isn’t a solution, but here’s what is:

  • Post a variety of high-quality content - photos, videos, boomerangs, how-tos, interviews, etc. 
  • Differentiate your style and keep it consistent
  • Connect with your audience through catchy captions and regular interactions
  • Post consistently 
  • Use relevant hashtags
  • Make use of all of Instagram’s features like Live, Stories, IGTV, and IG Shopping.

Check out this blog post for more tips on how to make Instagram’s algorithm work in your favor.


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