What Happens When You Buy Instagram Followers
Anyone who is trying to grow their Instagram account has probably received one of those sketchy DMs that offer you a fast 1,000 followers for a small fee. Here's the real question - have you considered saying yes to this quick fix? It seems so easy, and frankly - it's pretty cheap! Most services offer you 1,000 followers for around $15. That's about 4 - 6 months of hard work on your Instagram - especially if you're a brand new account starting from zero. We've written about our thoughts on buying followers before (read that post here). But luckily our friends over at Hootsuite performed an experiment where they bought followers and shared their results so you don't have to experiment with your own Instagram account.
Buying Instagram Followers
We're not going to dive too deep into this section because frankly, we really don't recommend it - and neither does Hootsuite. In their research, they break down the different companies that offered followers and the super sketch ways they had to go about paying for them. At the end of the day, you are going to have to give your credit card number to one of these companies to get your followers. Many of these companies do not have secure forms to enter your information into. Sometimes you are simply emailing your info to get followers - a big NO from us (and any financial advisor). But Hootsuite took this hit again for all of us, and did just that: submitted credit card info and their handle to a company called Famoid (we're not linking them because you don't need them).
They were given the option to receive all their followers at once or in a "drip", meaning that the followers will come in over a few days. Many companies offer this drip method to make the sudden jump in followers number appear organic - newsflash: it still doesn't appear organic. Accounts don't jump from 0 to 1,000 over 5 days, and your followers (+ brands you might be trying to get deals with) will notice.
But Does Buying Followers Work?
The account Hootsuite bought followers for did indeed receive those followers! They weren't scammed, and they received their 1,000 followers in the timeline promised. But check out what these followers looked like below ...
They are so obviously fake! They've barely posted, and their posts are generic. Some don't even have bios. Their usernames have strings of random numbers and letters. Their followers to following ratio is the final straw in their validity. Who has 2 followers and follows 1,194 people? Fake accounts.
These followers also decreased rapidly for the account. They lost 50 followers by 5 days past their purchase date. These companies don't promise that these bots will stay; they only promise the follow. And guess what else the companies can't promise - these followers having any real connection to your brand or products. That boost to your vanity metrics isn't going to convert to anything real for your business.
Why You Shouldn't Buy Followers
First off, you shouldn't buy followers because it goes against Instagram's Community Guidelines. Your account can be shut down if Instagram catches you buying followers or fake engagement of any kind. Is $15 of bot followers worth losing any work you've already put into your Instagram account? No.
The second biggest reason you shouldn't buy fake followers? It looks fake to your potential real followers, and it looks fakes to brands you may want to collaborate with. Do you like talking to fake people in real life? No? Then why do you think someone would want to engage with your account online when one of the first things on your profile is fake.
How Can People Tell My Followers Are Fake?
The biggest giveaway is a large follower number paired with small likes/comments numbers. While it's true that the bigger an account gets the lower their engagement rates goes, it would still not be as abysmal as the engagement rate of an account with fake followers. We're talking 20K followers, and 12 likes on a post. That's. Not. Real. Sure - the Instagram algorithm is weird and all of your followers don't see your posts in their feed. Let's halve the number then for the sake of the algorithm. 10K of your 20K followers saw your post and only TWELVE stopped to double tap? This smells like fake from a mile away.
And if you don't think Instagram users can tell your followers are fake just by looking, there are plenty of websites that will analyze your profile (for free) for fake followers and fake engagement. This is especially useful for brand deals, and we double check influencer's numbers all the time with websites like Hype Auditor to make sure that their numbers aren't inflated.
End of the day - buying followers does work. You can find a sketchy website, give them your credit card number, and followers will start flooding into your account. But that's where the "benefits" end. Your followers number will grow, but your sales, brand recognition, and engagement will remain stagnant. We promise that the long, steady work of creating organic growth on Instagram will be worth it in the end. The saying is true: "Slow and steady wins the (Instagram) race."