I was raised on the Beatles. Now, wait, I’m not THAT old. When I say I was raised on them, I mean my dad made sure I had a proper education in true Rock and Roll. My favorite song was, of course, “Yellow Submarine.” But, it was very closely followed by “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Who knows why? Maybe my younger self knew that someday I would be a busy little entrepreneur and I would need to write a post about buying followers on social media (namely, Instagram). But, regardless of the reason, it totally applies. You just can’t buy love.
Buying Followers on Instagram (or any form of social media for that matter)
Don’t. Just, don’t.
Ok, I know, that isn’t super helpful. Let me break it down.
Reasons why buying followers on Instagram is a really, really bad idea
It’s unethical and dishonest.
Really, though. How would you feel if you followed a supposedly successful brand on Instagram and placed your trust in them, becoming a customer. Then, youf find out they purchased most of their Instagram followers to appear more successful. Yeah, it’s just bad juju.
You can get your account banned.
Instagram is smart. They have been around a while (well, their parent company, Facebook, has anyway). They know the tricks. And they are always watching. Creepy? Maybe. But true? Yes. Facebook and Instagram employ people who’s sole job description is fraud detection. And you better believe they will ban you faster than a can of spam when (yes when, not if) they catch you. But I’ll just create a new account, says you. Ok, go ahead. But you have just lost ALL the legitimate followers and potential clients who actually WERE following you.
Follower to Engagement ratio.
What is this? This is the ratio of the number of followers you have to your engagement. Let’s say you buy 10,000 followers. You post something really legit and cool and get 15 likes and 2 comments. Your engagement ratio is .17% (17 / 10,000). This tells Instagram that your account is very irrelevant. Your followers do not engaged and therefore, your content must not be very good. Instagram is running a business. They want to keep their users happy and as such, they allow posts to show up in your feed that are the most relevant and that you are the most likely to engage in. Low engagement ratios are a huge red flag that your account is not quality, therefore, Instagram will not show it in people’s feeds.
Whenever my clients start freaking out about not having a huge following on Instagram, I remind them that they don’t want 1 million mediocre followers. They want 100 fantastic ones. Instead of spending time and money running loop contests or buying followers, put that energy instead into finding your people. Find your potential clients’ accounts. Follow them. Engaged in MEANINGFUL ways with them. Comment on their posts. Real comments. Not a heart emoji. This is worth 100x more than gimmicky contests and purchased follows.
I have a client who was worried about her relatively new Instagram account for her photography business. She called me one day and said, “I only have 300 followers and I’m not growing very fast! Let’s do a contest! Should I have a bot start engaging with followers for me?” This is a super common theme with my clients, and I gave her my shpill about quality vs. quantity and suggested we start engaging with people she would like to work with on an individual basis. We started the next day, finding people in her area who could be potential clients. We followed them. We liked their photos. Then we made MEANINGFUL comments on posts. And we were genuine. The result? 2 months later we are up to a measly 500 followers. But, wouldn’t you know it…each post gets around 50 engagements. That’s 10%. That’s awesome. And as far as business? That same client is asking me if I can UNMARKET for her…her business has exploded. In large part due to her Instagram efforts. Real, genuine engagement. No gimmicks. No buying followers.