Everybody wants to be popular on Instagram. Why? Because Instagram is one of the most popular social platforms worldwide!
Your content may be excellent but won’t it look better if there are 50K likes on it?
Whether you’re an influencer who wants more eyeballs on your content or a brand who wants more leads, vanity metrics like number of followers are important. The result? One in ten Instagram accounts is fake! From AI-powered bots to accounts that are being sold by third-party apps, you name it and you will find them crawling on Instagram.
Influencers are especially vulnerable since many brands weigh influencers on the basis of their follower count – ultimately tempting them with an easy way to boost their Instagram power without having to work for it. But there is a catch as with all unethical practices. Bought followers are not the same as the ones you genuinely engage and earn through the quality of your posts.
Businesses end up with a raw deal too as they are fooled into paying these “famous” people (with fake followers). Buyers get misled that brands are trustworthy since they have numerous followers and views. The vicious circle goes on. Indeed, buying Instagram followers is a very bad idea as it can tarnish your online reputation as an influencer and cost brands dearly.
A shortcut can be hard to resist. But is buying Instagram followers worthwhile? Our blog takes a close look at why buying followers on Instagram is a bad idea, and offers advice to influencers to help grow organically. We will also arm you with a toolkit to identify fake followers.
Factors like engagement and followers are a by-product of successful collaborations. Give your brand the best chance of succeeding with an ideal partner. Dive into our blog: How To Choose The Right Influencer Marketing Agency.
Why Buying Followers Is A Bad Idea
A huge number of followers don’t mean that products will sell or that your business will grow exponentially. The way to have actual ROI is only if people are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. If the followers are not real, it wouldn’t mean anything to your business. More followers DO NOT automatically translate to more sales. Here’s why:
Fake followers don’t engage
Fake followers may be able to like your post or even leave a positive comment, but they will never give you any conversion. Remember they aren’t real people but fake chat bots! Your account may even appear well-established at first sight, but the posts will always lack real user engagement. As a result, your competitors, influencers, and clients will easily spot that you’re using some services of fake followers. This is sure to leave a negative impression on their mind. What is the point of a follower on Instagram, or any other social network, if the user doesn’t engage?
Engagement is mismatched
Human followers follow a relatively typical pattern of engagement.
< 1,000 followers average about 8% engagement
1,000 – 10,000 followers average 4% engagement
10,000 – 100,000 followers average 2.4% engagement
100,000 – 1 million followers average 1.8% engagement
> 1 million followers average 1.7% engagement
If you are using fake followers, your engagement rates won’t match these numbers – your engagement will be noticeably different from these averages. Also, engagement in the form of useless comments is also a common practice by fake follower accounts to boost engagement rates. Steer clear of engaging with such accounts.
Bought followers bring spam
If you buy followers, you will have to provide your email address and by doing so, you are opening yourself to vast quantities of spam. Even worse, once you accept them as a follower, they may expose your innocent, genuine followers to spam as your followers will most likely accept the spammers as their followers too. But once they discover what you have sent them, you may find that your genuine followers eliminate you at the same time they remove the fake followers.
Fake followers make inappropriate or irrelevant comments
A popular way for people who peddle fake followers who can boost your engagement rates is to make inappropriate or irrelevant comments. These are worse than the “nice picture” comments, and of little value to your content. For instance, you might find that a follower has left a comment on your image of a beautiful sunset promoting a service completely unrelated to the post. Such followers simply hijack your posts to use the space as a free advertising medium. These obviously are of no value to anyone, as your genuine followers are unlikely to buy the service in question.
Fake followers will never buy your product/service
Fake followers will not spend a penny on your products or service, and neither will they refer people to you. These types of followers are not potential clients that will convert in a purchase as they have zero interest in you. They’ll also not increase the awareness of your brand by reviewing your product or service.
Accounts with fake followers lack credibility
It is super easy to spot an account with a sizable number of fake followers, especially for people and brands that use platforms or agencies to assist in their influencer selection. Therefore, anyone who buys followers is unlikely to remain an influencer for long, and by engaging in the practice, are at risk of destroying their credibility.
Instagram suspends accounts with fake followers
Like all other social media platforms, Instagram has rules every user must abide by. Within its terms and services, it clearly discourages the users from buying followers. Once spotted, your account is sure to be purged or even suspended for ignoring the terms of service. Once you get suspended for being involved in unethical practices, you will lose credibility. This means that the money you spend on buying fake followers will become a wasted expense, as your fake followers are removed from Instagram one-by-one.
Instagram keeps an eye on the fake followers
Instagram aims to provide its users with an authentic, enjoyable experience. Thus, it is constantly finding ways to eliminate fake accounts and makes regular purges to eliminate them. It’s possible that after paying to buy fake followers, a few weeks later Instagram deletes them and you fall back to the previous number of followers, literally throwing away your money, and potentially open to the risk of being penalized by Instagram’s algorithm! Better safe than sorry!
Take a look at different ways in which your account can get banned by Instagram: What Is Instagram Shadowban, And Has Your Business Been Hit?
Spot Fake Instagram Followers With These Tools
There is a range of free and paid tools out there you can use to discover which of your followers are fake, or whether a particular account suffers from having an excessive number of fake followers.
Fakecheck – It allows you to determine whether your Instagram account has fake followers with a Social Engagement Check. The app is a paid service which works by collecting data about an account follower’ engagement levels. When you search for an account, you can unlock its report by using credits.
HypeAuditor – The tool allows you to analyze any Instagram account for fake followers and likes. It provides each account with an Audience Quality Score (AQS) for Instagram, which allows advertisers to check influencers before they actually work together. The tool analyzes an account’s Engagement Rate, Authentic Engagement, and Followers’ Reachability on a scale of 100 using AI to detect cheating and bot followers. It’s a paid service as you pay for an Instagram report with tokens – 1 token = 1 Instagram report for 1 month (one token will cost you $1.99).
Social Audit Pro – A paid app that allows you to investigate any profile’s followers and determine if they are legitimate/active Instagram users. Prices range from $5 for a one-time audit of 5,000 followers to $20 for 20,000 followers. Once you audit your account, you can remove these fake followers using Social Audit Pro, directly from within the app.
IG Audit – This is a free tool to check on the validity of Instagram accounts. The tool gives you an estimate of the account’s real to fake follower percentage, by showing the account’s average likes and comments (along with expected figures for each statistic).
Get Real Instagram Followers With These Tips
Businesses and influencers need followers to grow their networks and make sales. Trust us, you can do all this and more fairly. There are much better ways to grow your following and engagement on Instagram that will result in real long-term benefits. The key is to know who your target audience is, what they want, and delivering it consistently. Here’s what you can do:
Hashtag the right way
You can reach people who are interested in your content and inclined to engage with it by using relevant hashtags in your Instagram content. Hashtag generator tools like HashTagsForLikes, show you analytics and insights about the hashtags you’ve selected to accompany your posts. The tool also offers a list of trending hashtags to improve the chances of gaining more genuine followers.
Influencers do hashtags better than the rest and brands can learn from them too! Check out: Hashtag You Way To Success As An Insta Influencer.
Figure 1, 2: Search results for #contentmarketing. Source: HashTagsForLikes
Make a good first impression with Instagram bio
Your Instagram bio and profile are the first things that a prospective follower checks when they land on your page. Fine-tune the details – optimize your profile picture, use a catchy username optimized to search queries, add your website and social handles, and write a creative description; to make a great first impression.
First impressions matter on social media! Your Instagram bio could use some help, have a look at: Make A Good First Impression With Your Insta Bio.
Post and engage regularly
With Instagram’s growing popularity, space continues to get overcrowded. To get noticed, you need to be proactive. Post quality content consistently and interact with your followers as well as other users. You can create a content calendar to maintain posting frequency.
Cross-promote, attract traffic from other social channels
Redirect traffic from your other active social media channels to Instagram, and earn followers in the process. Simply cross-promote your Instagram content on your other accounts, and add your Instagram handle to your website, emails, and social bios. Your existing followers on other accounts trust you already, thus earning followers this way is much easier than winning the trust of unknown people.
There are a few other pitfalls for brands on Instagram. Avoid them like a pro with our blog: 8 Social Media Mistakes Your Company May Still Be Making.
Instagram offers a lot of opportunities to its users, extending from increased brand awareness to improved lead generation. It allows users to make a more personal connection with their followers and helps cement their loyalty. Unfortunately, the stiff competition has resulted in some people using unfair practices like buying followers or engagement. This is an unreliable and unethical growth-hacking tactic.
There are many fair ways to shine on social platforms. Invest time in organic methods of attracting followers – post unique content, build a community, use relevant hashtags, and cross-promote your content. When you do all this, you’ll see quality growth and an increase in sales.
Still, have questions about growing your Instagram organically and gaining REAL followers? Get in touch with the experts at atisfyreach. Our revolutionary platform, atisfyreach, provides services that help brands establish a strong presence across social media platforms, and connect them with influencers through tailored marketing campaigns.
Get in touch, and let us help you build a true connection with your audience
Here’s a checklist to automate your Instagram workflow and optimizing it for success. Check out the Blog: Instagram Business Toolkit For Success.