To buy or not to buy?
As a business trying to spread brand awareness on Instagram, it can be all too tempting to buy followers. It can seem like a good idea to pay for a couple of thousand ‘followers’ so that real people think you look legitimate and want to follow too.
There are new services popping up everyday that allow you to buy thousands of followers for a relatively small price. However, if it were that simple and cheap, everyone would do it! The reality is most of these followers available for purchasing are either bots or inactive accounts.
Throughout this article, we’ll explain why you should not buy followers and what to do instead. Here’s our top 5 reasons on why you should swerve the fake followers:
They offer no long-term engagement
Some agreements offer early engagement in the form of likes and comments, but this doesn’t last. Truthfully, how helpful is it to have 20,000 followers if none of them like or comment on your posts? Or care about your product or service?
Engagement is the main factor that influences Instagram’s algorithm. Without likes and comments coming in, the algorithm will theorise that your content isn’t engaging your audience and they will stop showing your posts. Yes, even to the real people following you!
Moreover, if you have 20,000 followers but only 20 likes on your most recent post, alarm bells will ring for your page visitors. People are starting to become more aware of fake followers and it can make you seem less trustworthy.
If you want people to trust you and use your business, then you have to show them that you’re genuine.
In the rare case that your bought followers do offer engagement, it’s not the kind you want. Most commonly bots will comment things like ‘nice picture’ or ‘great job’ on a random number of your posts.
Sounds fine? What if that post is announcing the closure of a store or more serious with a bereavement announcement? Suddenly ‘great job’ doesn’t look fine at all. While this is a dramatic example, you would be surprised/horrified at how often generic comments find their way to the wrong posts.
As noted already, people are becoming much more aware and know that these kinds of comments scream spam!
They aren’t real people
As we mentioned earlier, most of the followers that can be purchased are either bots or inactive accounts. Fake followers are created by users whose only goal is to get followed in return, or because these accounts are sponsored by services that sell followers.
Ultimately, when you pay for Instagram followers, you’re paying for a blank number. Recent reports suggest that there are now more bots on the internet than there are people in the world.
You can’t accurately measure performance
It becomes impossible to measure how your real audience is connecting with your brand if a large majority of that audience isn’t real. You can’t conceivably measure what percentage of people are truly engaging with your posts if you can’t even work out how many real people follow you.
Even if you sign up for initial engagement, the fake followers will ultimately become a drain on your account performance metrics as the initial engagement tapers off.
If you don’t know what posts are working or what your real audience thinks of your social media strategy, then you can’t make meaningful changes to improve.
Engagement is what builds your brand! If you can’t measure or improve this, then there’s no point in having an Instagram at all.
You could lose them all anyway
Instagram makes a solid effort to identify and remove fake accounts. This also means it removes likes, follows, and comments from third-party apps when it identifies them.
A statement from Instagram: ‘‘We’re taking a number of steps to limit this kind of unwelcome behaviour. Accounts we identify will receive an in-app message alerting them that we’ve removed the inauthentic activity given to their account from others.”
One of the biggest Instagram ‘purges’ as they’re now known saw Justin Bieber lose a whopping 3.5 million followers. A lot of other celebrities and influencers were hugely impacted, bringing the popularity of fake followers to the surface.
Buying followers is a violation of Instagram’s community guidelines. Getting caught could mean not just losing your followers, but also a slap on the wrist from Instagram moderators. Instagram have been known to completely close accounts that have fake followers, so it’s not worth the risk.
What to do instead
Don’t set out to fake your way to a top profile. Buying followers looks like a tempting shortcut, but in the long run it will cause you more harm than good.
People respect 30 hard earned likes more than 3,000 followers that are clearly not real. Use Instagram to build a genuine relationship with your audience and engage with them. If you engage with your audience, they’re much more likely to engage with you!
Focus on growing your following organically by interacting with relevant accounts and making sure that your current customers follow you. Share genuine content and post regularly to encourage ongoing interaction from your followers. You can also check out of beginners guide to social media here.