Why you shouldn’t buy Instagram followers

5 min read
Will Stevens

Having a large following on Instagram is the dream of many businesses and bloggers.

The prospect of a steady stream of potential readers and customers is, after all, highly desirable.

But building up an Instagram following takes time and effort, and so you might feel tempted to take a shortcut and buy Instagram followers.

A quick search for "buy Instagram followers" reveals that you can acquire a thousand new followers for just a few pounds.

The low cost and the old adage "fake it until you make it" can combine to make this seem like a tempting proposition.

But in reality buying Instagram followers is never a good idea. Here's why it's not a technique you should use.

Why you shouldn't buy Instagram followers

  • They're fake or inactive accounts
  • They won't engage with your account
  • They can be easily detected
  • It could damage your reputation

Let's take a closer look at each of these reasons.

They're fake or inactive accounts

You didn't think you were getting 1,000 real followers for the price of a cup of coffee, did you?

If you buy followers, you can expect 100% of them to be either fake accounts set up just so they can be sold as followers, or inactive accounts.

So although your follower count will go up, don't expect a rise in any other metrics because…

They won't engage with your account

Why do you want a large Instagram following? So people will engage with your posts and click on your links.

Paid for followers won't do that, so your money will just be going down the drain.

They can be easily detected

Maybe you don't care about engagement and you just want to be able to show off your high number of Instagram followers to the world.

After all, when brands are looking to team up with influencers isn't it number of followers they look at?

Put simply, the answer is no. Although a large audience is attractive to brands, they're savvy enough to know that follower figures aren't the be all and end all of Instagram influence.

They'll check to see if people are interacting with your posts, and may even want to see proof of engagement levels before they enter into an agreement with you.

On top of this, Instagram regularly purges fake accounts, so your bought followers could disappear as quickly as they arrived.

It could damage your reputation

Imagine that you do manage to build a significant Instagram following, but your little secret is that it all started with fake, paid for followers.

Now imagine the embarrassment and negative impact of your little secret being revealed. How do you think your customers/brand partners/followers will feel about being tricked into thinking you were more popular than you were?

Steer clear of buying Instagram followers.

What about automated following tools?

Rather than allowing you to buy followers outright, there are tools out there that claim to attract new, real followers.

They tend to do this by automatically following people who use specific hashtags that you've indicated are relevant to your account.

The idea is that once you've followed these people, they'll follow you back.

In reality, very few people are likely to be receptive to this technique, and those that do follow you back probably won't engage with your posts.

On top of that, using automated following tools may mean you're in breach of Instagram's terms and conditions.

Like buying followers, these kinds of tools should be avoided.

What should I do instead of buying Instagram followers?

The true key to building up a significant Instagram following is avoiding shortcuts and focusing on creating quality posts that people will love.

In abstract, this sounds hard but it becomes a lot easier if you break it down into smaller steps.

The first step is to understand the kind of audience you should be looking to attract.

If you want to build an engaged following on Instagram, you can't take a scattergun approach to content.

You need to understand who you're targeting, then make sure your posts resonate with that audience.

To learn more about understanding your audience check out this guide.

Once you've decided on the kind of audience you want to target, you should begin creating content to target them.

Don't just post whenever you feel like it. Instead plan your content weeks and months in advance and only make spur of the moment posts if they're really good.

You can learn more about planning social media content in this guide.

If you've set up a business Instagram account, you'll be able to make use of the network's ad platform.

This is a great way to reach people who might not otherwise see your content.

If you have a standard account, you should work on influencer outreach - forming relationships with people who already have a significant audience is a great way to get noticed. (Businesses can also take this approach, but may find it harder.)

You can learn more about influencer outreach in this guide.

And you can find more tips on building up your Instagram following here.

Summing up

There are no shortcuts when it comes to Instagram, so whatever you do don't buy followers.

Put in the hard work and you'll naturally grow a larger, engaged following.