This is a hot debate. One camp says you must buy Instagram followers to make your Instagram page credible, and the other camp says it is a waste of money.
It is a waste of money.
You see, followers are called so for a reason—they are following you because they believe in you. If you buy Instagram followers and likes, you will have all the numbers you want, but you will realize later on that it is not worth it.
Today, I will share with you my thoughts on why you should NOT buy Instagram followers. We will discuss:
- What are fake Instagram followers?
- Why do marketers buy Instagram followers?
- What is wrong with buying Instagram followers?
- What should I do instead to get Instagram followers?
Ready? Let us get started.
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What are fake Instagram followers?
Let us sit back a little bit. Instagram is a social media site where you post your photos and videos, and your friends can “love” your posts. Eventually, it became an ideal platform for businesses where they can share their products and services.
Influencers also use the platform to grow their followers. Why? Because their followers want to see more of what they do. And if they have a lot of followers, they can market their products and services to these followers.
And the result? They make sales because these followers are believers. They trust the influencer enough that their buying decisions are skewed in favor of the influencer.
Growing an Instagram following takes years. And some entrepreneurs, like affiliate marketers and dropshippers, cannot wait to make this happen organically.
So what do they do?
They have $100, so they pay for services where they can have instant followers.
These, of course, are fake.
Whether these followers are robots or real humans, they are fake.
Fake followers are followers who did not stumble upon your Instagram organically. In Instagram, people who see your post can share your story on their feeds. And if people open your story, they can follow you. From then on, they will see anything new that you have posted on your Instagram account.
Usually, fake followers are robots—created by sellers of followers. These robots are also programmed to auto-follow a lot of Instagram accounts.
Apart from selling these followers, the creators also ensured that these robots leave comments on any random Instagram post, and these comments have links.
If a person clicks on this link, it can either:
- Be a malware
- A legitimate website that has products
In short, these are marketing shams done by lazy and evil people. I need to stress this out—lazy and evil people. Sadly, many innocent Instagrammers fall victim to this.
Both you, the person who bought the followers, and the viewers of your page can suffer from this scheme one way or another.
Why do marketers buy Instagram followers?
Now, we need to understand why some entrepreneurs, and even Instagram managers, pay for fake followers. It helps to know what they think so we can weigh in on the issue better.
Today, people fully understand what numbers mean. Higher numbers mean validation. The more followers an Instagram page has, the more believable it is.
If a person stumbled upon your Instagram page and saw that you have 100,000 followers, it is very likely that this person is going to follow you.
What he does not know is that these followers are fake. This technique—buying fake followers—exploits the vulnerability of the gullible. Humans have what is called a herd mentality where people believe there is safety in numbers.
This principle applies in life as well as social media. If your Instagram has one thousand followers, then you must be a popular entity. So, I am going to follow you, not knowing that your only legitimate followers could be less than 100.
Not all fake Instagram followers are robots. Many of these are humans, too. You can buy 500 Instagram followers for less than $100, and boost your follower count almost immediately.
Some people who sell Instagram followers will spread out the following count in days or even months. They know that Instagram will notice the sudden spike and that your account will be banned. The best site to buy Instagram followers can do this for you, so you do not get penalized.
So, since these people are real, people who buy the followers think that “hey, since these are real people, they can see my posts on their feeds, right?”
Well, that is right. But at the end of the day, how many of them engaged? Many online entrepreneurs hope that these fake followers would see one of their products and buy.
But here is the sad truth: they were paid to follow you, but they are not interested in what you have to sell. You cannot buy engaged Instagram followers. Such a thing does not exist.
In the world of e-marketing, genuine followers follow you because they like your content. And because they like your content, they will engage with you or your posts.
And how does this benefit you? Instagram’s algorithm relies on post engagements. The more engagement you get, the more Instagram would show your post to others as a suggestion.
Furthermore, your true human followers are more likely to buy from you because they trust you already. Fake followers do not engage. Once they have been paid, they just don’t care.
What is wrong with buying Instagram followers?
Earlier, we have touched a little bit on the issues when you buy Instagram followers cheap. Actually, expensive Instagram followers do not make sense, either.
Now, let us dig deeper and see how buying Instagram followers can hurt your business.
It distorts your metrics
Do you really have 10,000 followers, or 10? Now that you cannot tell, how are you even supposed to make decisions about your business? If you look at your Instagram stats, how do you know which one is fake and which one is real?
Now, if you do not know the real deal, how do you expect to make a sensible decision based on data?
See where we are going here? You should not buy fake Instagram followers because your statistics are skewed.
Instagram will purge fake followers
Instagram has started cracking down on fake followers in 2018. Even Facebook and Twitter did the same earlier, purging tens of millions of fake accounts. Instagram has the capacity and the ability to detect fake followers, fake likes, and even fake comments.
And if they find out, your account following will suddenly shoot down. It is not only you who gets impacted—even celebrities are also affected.
When this crackdown began, celebrities like Justin Bieber, Ariane Grande, and Kim Kardashian experienced a huge drop in their follower count. Now, I am not saying that they bought their followers, but we will never really know.
Your engagement stats will suffer
What is engagement?
And engagement can be a like or a comment. If you have ten legitimate followers and you posted a photo, it is likely that there are at least two out of these ten followers who will respond. If they do, your engagement rate is 2/10=20%.
Now, what if you bought a thousand followers? If two people engaged out of 1,010 followers, your engagement rate is 2/1010 = 0.20%
20% vs 0.20%.
How will you ask companies for sponsorship with that kind of engagement rate?
There are studies that benchmark what is called a like: follower ratio. The calculation is the same as what we did. Take a look at this chart:
What this tells us is that if you have between 1,000 and 5,000 likes, the expected engagement rate is about 10.5%. If your engagement rate is 0.20%, then it tells an Instagram user, Instagram, and a potential sponsor, that your followers are fake.
There is also a benchmark by industry, as shown in the chart below:
Fake followers = no engagement. And if you have no engagement, you have no business.
Instagram will suspend your account
Maybe you can get off with a warning for the first time. But why would you even risk it? Instagram, Facebook, and other social media channels are there to foster honesty and ethical marketing practices.
If you break them, then you have no place in their world.
Instagram is serious in this, and the disbanding of groups that create bots is a testament to how serious Instagram management is in fixing this problem. What Instagram wants you to do is to post your videos and images on your own and engage with your viewers and followers in real-time.
In short, Instagram does not like bots. Bots are for people who want to game the system. And you as a dropshipper, or online entrepreneur, will never succeed if you do not want to put in the hard work.
You will not earn money
This is the most important aspect of all: money.
As a business person, you want a following because these people are your target niche. They are your target market. You want to inspire them, inform them, and teach them. In return, they will buy the products you recommend because they trust you.
This is how legitimate affiliate marketing works. If you have a product or a service, they are likely to buy from you too.
Just imagine if you have a 3% conversion rate—with 1,000 followers, 30 people will buy. With 10,000 followers, 300 will buy.
This cannot happen if your followers are fake.
What should I do instead to get Instagram followers?
There are people who insist that you can never grow your Instagram followers organically. They claim that the business model has changed—that the algorithm has changed.
These same people, though, cannot back their claims with data. For all I know, these are the same kind of people who just want to wing the system, like those who really got so good in SEO that they can make a web page appear on top of the Google SERP even if their content is useless.
But hey, a true business grows organically because it adds value. And to do just that, here are some ways to help you boost your Instagram follower count without spending money.
Create valuable content
People consume content that they like—content that adds value to their lives. You can create content that makes people laugh, content that teaches people, and so much more.
Here are some examples of great content:
- Research and stats
- Shared content
Your posts must be engaging, real, and related to your niche. You must make your content according to the interest of your target market.
Tagging people helps in boosting your organic reach. If you tag someone, that person will be notified. Also tagging people or places means your post will show on the feed of anyone who can see it. Make sure that your Instagram account is set to public mode.
What does this do? What it does is it exposes your Instagram post to more people. Visibility is the name of the game. Also, you want people to engage, so you have to tag them—in return, they will like your post or leave a comment, therefore boosting your engagement rate.
The hashtag is one of the greatest inventions on the internet. A hashtag is like a category that accumulates all types of posts and content related to that hashtag.
Let us say that you posted a cupcake photo, and you used the hashtag #cupcake in your post, anybody who clicks on the #cupcake from someone else’s post may come across a photo of your cupcake.
Use hashtags the ethical way—a hashtag is like a community of posts. While you can post a recipe of a cupcake and the use the hashtag #turtles, nobody who clicks on the hashtag #turtles is really looking for a cupcake. Yes, you can do it, but I strongly doubt it will yield any positive results.
Engage, engage, engage!
Do not let 24 hours pass by without engaging. If there is anyone who loved or like your post, it does not take so much time to thank the person. Reply to the comments as soon as possible—this is most especially critical if you are running a business.
Commenters need to be recognized. Those who ask a question do you a huge favor, as they open up doors for discussion and engagement with other users.
Add CTA on every post
CTA stands for a call to action. Always have a CTA at the end of every Instagram post. Encourage your users to act, comment, or like your posts. What you want is for your viewers to do something about your post and not just ignore it. If you want to learn more about Instagram CTAs, I recommend reading this blog post by PLANN: Call to Action Instagram: 13 Creative CTAs to Test On Your Account.
Now, if you think about it, you will realize that buying Instagram likes is not really worth it. While you can buy 100 Instagram likes and followers for as little $3, you will soon find out that this cost is going to add up.
Yeah, it sounds cheap. But in business, any money spent that has no tangible return in investment is a waste of money.
Never buy Instagram likes and followers. You are better off paying someone from Fiverr to create great content than paying for fake followers.
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