Social media is a superb marketing tool that can generate lots of new business for you or your venture. While there are lots of ways to get attention online, buying it seems to be the path of least resistance. But is it safe to buy Instagram followers? Can the network or your ‘real’ followers tell if they aren’t real?
Also see our article How To Add Swipe Up to your Instagram Story
It’s human nature to choose the easiest way to do something. In every walk of life, if there’s a shortcut, someone will take it. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.
Instagram is now the go-to social network for those serious about influencing and for businesses who want a fanatical following. Sure, Facebook and Twitter still have their place but Instagram is the place to be. To be able to influence, you need to have followers and something meaningful to say. You can buy one but not the other. But should you?
Followers and social proof
Social media users have long used the number of followers to validate their own feeling of worth or as social proof. If lots of people follow a brand or person, they must have something useful to say right? If a company or individual has thousands of followers, they must be worth following too. That’s the idea behind social proof.
Sprout Social uses an analogy that works perfectly here. ‘You’re walking down the street looking for a place to try for lunch. Eight out of ten of the restaurants have people inside eating. The other two are completely empty. Are you more likely to go to one of the restaurants with people inside, or one of the two empty ones?
If you’re like most people, you’re likely heading into one that has people in it. You’ll probably even do it without even giving it a second thought. It’s not just a coincidence that we choose the restaurant with customers in it. It has to do with a little psychological phenomenon called social proof.’
So with the case made for having lots of Instagram followers, is it safe to buy them?
Buying Instagram followers
There are lots of places on the internet that offer to provide hundreds or thousands of Instagram followers for a price. The idea is that you pay them a set fee and they use whatever means they have at their disposal to provide the number of likes you paid for.
With prices from as little as $3 per hundred likes, it is tempting to up your follower count the easy way, but you really shouldn’t. Here are three reasons why.
The services selling Instagram followers are cheap but very one dimensional. You will likely get close to the number of followers you paid for but nothing else. The accounts will not like, will not engage and will not interact with your account whatsoever.
Instagram is all about engagement and anyone who has used the network for longer than five minutes will notice that you may have a thousand followers but none of them comment, like or interact with you in any way. That is not going to go down well.
You won’t get more business or make more money
While the single metric of follower count may look good and may be all some users care about, the majority want more. Those bought followers aren’t going to come to your café, buy your product or service or post on their own account about how good your service is. They aren’t going to promote you in any way, which is how you get more business on social media.
Instagram will notice and you will be purged
Instagram has done a lot of work to try to detect it when buy Instagram followers because it cheapens their brand and the user experience. You may get away with it for a little while but not for long. You may get a warning on your first offense but you may also be shut down.
Instagram has a dedicated team that looks for bots, automation tools and activity that doesn’t happen in real time. It is unlikely that you will get away with it for long.
Earn Instagram followers
If you’re promoting a business or service, do you want to risk your reputation over something like this? I wouldn’t. It will take much longer. It will require much more effort. It will require imagination and creativity. But it is vital that you earn your Instagram followers by engaging with them and offering value in every post you make.
Only then will the social proof be genuine and not transparently bought. Only then do you stand any chance of actually making money from them or from Instagram as a whole.