Many websites, aspiring influencers or social media celebrities, bloggers, online sellers, etc use Instagram to establish their presence and brand online. Having a high number of followers on Instagram is often deemed as an indication of successful brand recognition. In the world of social media, a large Instagram following is almost like reaching the top of a public social hierarchy. This has resulted in several online websites selling Instagram followers. The availability of such services makes it quite attractive to those who are struggling to increase their followers organically. This temptation should be resisted, as there are several reasons why one should never buy Instagram followers. This article will present these reasons and also strategies to increase followers.
Table of Contents
- The Price of Instagram Followers
- Is It a Bot or a Real Instagram Follower?
- The Great Instagram Purge of 2014
- Serious Implication for Buying Instagram Followers
- 4 Strategies to Increase Followers and Engagement
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The Price of Instagram Followers
Based on research, one can get as much as 1000 Instagram followers for $10. That is a cost of $0.01 per follower. Looking at the cost, it would seem like a ridiculously low cost towards your marketing budget. However in business, every dollar counts, or this case, every cent, so the questions are ” Does this investment provide value? Are there negative ramifications to buying Instagram followers, if so, is it worth the risk? Are there any legal considerations in buying Instagram followers?”
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Is It a Bot or a Real Instagram Follower?
What is an Instagram Bot?
“An Instagram bot is a fake Instagram account that uses an automation program that allows it to mimic and respond as a real human would. Instagram bots can follow, like, and comment on other accounts.”
There is a strong debate on the extent to which bots are prevalent on Instagram, one source (2018) claims that there are about 95 million bot accounts on Instagram, which accounts for as much as 10% of the over one billion users on Instagram. This amount is alarming. Instagram has taken several steps over the years to weed out these bots. However, it is a rat race as they fight intelligent programs that have mastered the art of human like-interaction. The even more concerning fact is that bots are stealing images and names to appear as having a credible identity.
- 95 Million Bots: One in Ten Instagram Accounts Is Fake
- Fighting Instagram’s $1.3 Billion Problem—Fake Followers
- 95 million accounts on Instagram could be bots: study
- Instagram’s Growing Bot Problem
The Great Instagram Purge of 2014
It is interesting to note that some of the sellers of Instagram followers have as a disclaimer that they cannot provide a guaranteed timeline in which the followers will remain as followers. In light of this, reference is made to the “Great Instagram Purge of 2014“. Some of the most famous celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, and Ariana Grande lost millions of followers after Instagram had done a massive clean up of suspected fake accounts. It was reported that some genuine accounts which had a high percentage of followers who fell in the category of suspected fake Instagram accounts, their accounts were deleted also. That is the penalty of association.
The saying goes, “if you lay with dogs, you will catch fleas.” One may be tempted to buy followers and even likes but should seriously consider whether they are willing to lose all the work that they had done to acquire organic followers.
- Which Stars Were Hit Hardest by the Great Instagram Purge of 2014?
- Instagram Purge Costs Celebrities Millions of Followers
- Instagram Deletes Millions of Accounts in Spam Purge
- Instapurge: Instagram Begins Deleting Millions of Accounts
Serious Implication for Buying Instagram Followers
Buying Instagram followers can compromise the very objective of brand recognition and account growth. The serious implications of buying Instagram followers are:
- Liability for Ad Fraud
- Account Marred as Deceptive
- Poor Influencer Campaign
- Account Flagged as Suspicious or Suspended
- Losing Partnership and Sponsor
Liability for Ad Fraud
Any act that misleads the public is considered fraud. There is no other way to describe it. Fraud makes you liable to legal actions. A simple example is an Instagram account that sells products but has thousands of fake followers and likes. A visitor to that account may see the high number of followers and likes and trust buying products. A false advertisement such as this is fraud and if there are any challenges with product delivery, a case of fraud through false advertisement can be claimed by the buyer. This is not the type of dilemma that one would want to find themselves in whether it is for their business or personal brand.
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Account Marred as Deceptive
Having your account marred by the public as engaging in buying likes or followers can discredit any future brand campaigns or recognition online. This perception of deception can even transfer to other platforms where you are less likely to be engaged because of news in the public domain. The internet is known for public shaming of people who have erred and the implications and perception are long-lasting.
Additionally, you may lose followers who would see that you have a large number of followers but not many likes when you post. This will indeed impact your credibility and you may lose genuine organic followers.
Poor Influencer Campaign
Below is a message that an Instagram account received regarding inauthentic followers.
Many persons have spoken about Facebook jail, well, there is also Instagram jail, where in some cases they may limit your ability to post for a few days. People have reported that even though Instagram may not have officially notified them of penalties, they have seen a reduction in their ability to engage their followers. E.g after buying likes, they see a general reduction in likes for their other posts. This is possible because the algorithm to show posts or stories has some penalties that limit the ability for it to show up in the feed of followers (genuine and non-genuine).
This is a sort of silent penalty where Instagram is saying “we see what you have done as a shortcut, now your viewership has decreased.” These are the reports of people who have bought followers, although there could be other reasons as to why engagement has fallen and their campaigns are no longer performing well.
Account Flagged as Suspicious or Suspended
When your account is flagged as suspicious after buying followers, the fear of suspension can be even worse than the suspension itself. Having an account flagged as suspicious means that every move you make on the platform is being watched. This can be nerve-racking because if you still have momentum in building your brand even with genuine followers, the red flag on your account, means that there may be a genuine activity in the future that seems questionable, which results in your account being suspended. Having your Instagram account suspended means that all the work and effort at curating stories and pictures will be lost.
Losing Partnerships and Sponsors
Sponsors and those who are interested in partnering with highly followed Instagram accounts are no longer just concerned with the numbers. There are people specifically responsible to examine the quality of the Instagram account. They want to see fully human engagement when you post a product or advertisement on their behalf. So if the aim is to grow to get partners or sponsors, buying Instagram followers and likes will make you lose credibility to these prospective. If you already have established partnerships, buying Instagram followers is a fatal risk towards losing these partnerships.
4 Strategies to Increase Followers and Engagement
Now that you have read all the reasons why you should not buy Instagram followers, it is time to discuss the strategies that you can use to increase your followers and engagement. These include:
- Engaging an Instagram Marketing Agency To Create and Implement A Growth Plan
- Engage a Dedicated Account Manager
- Focus on Creating Quality Content and Create a Schedule of Release
- Use All the Engagement Features of Instagram To its Fullest Capacity
Engaging an Instagram Marketing Agency to Create and Implement a Growth Plan
Why not use an expert? Many reputable social media marketing agencies can create a plan for your brand that will engage others on the Instagram platform to follow your account. Some of these agencies even have guaranteed deliverables, so it is definitely worth the try. The results that you may achieve in one year, they can garner in a few weeks using their expertise.
Engage a Dedicated Account Manager
Most brands are busy running their 9 to 5 businesses and simply don’t have the time to log in to Instagram to make a post. Some brands want to grow, but their account is still dormant with infrequent postings. Not everyone wants to engage a company to increase their Instagram followers. In such cases; one can engage a dedicated Account Manager who can ensure that content is posted daily or weekly, according to your desired schedule. There are platforms such as Fiverr that are known for providing freelancers in the area of social media management.
Focus on Creating and/or Posting Quality Content with a Frequent Schedule of Release
Content is King. To engage others, your content has to be top-notch. The focus of your growth strategy which is either managed by you, a company, or a freelancer should be to create and/or post quality content frequently. Quality content is not only pictures. As we will discuss in our next strategy, content can be pictures, stories, interviews, etc. Any of these types of content should be of quality and provide value to your target audience. If it is picture content, one should make sure it is of good quality, If it is a video, make sure the sound and picture quality is clear, etc. Make sure that verbal presentations are organized so that all points are covered and it is communicated effectively.
Use All the Engagement Features of Instagram to Its Fullest Capacity
Instagram has features for engagement which include:
- Live Instagram
- Instagram TV
- Instagram Shopping
The features above can be used in so many ways. These include preparing the following: quizzes, interviews, Q&A’s, live chats, music concerts, fashion shows, etc. Using all capabilities of Instagram can serve to build an authentic followers list.
Using the strategies outlined above, success can be gained in increasing followers. Buying Instagram followers is a shortcut that has many risks attached that could be detrimental to brand building.