Why you should never, ever, ever buy Instagram followers

Let’s talk for a sec about Instagram automation and buying followers.

As a social media manager and strategist, this is a question I’ve run into more times than I can count. And I’ll be honest - it frustrates me to no end.

If you aren’t familiar with what Instagram automation/buying followers looks like, I’ll explain:

Basically you pay a fee to a company that utilizes a bot (automated system). This bot goes into Instagram and gathers followers for you. There are a number of ways that they do this, but some common ones are automated follow requests (that disappear if the person doesn’t respond fast enough), automated DMs (direct messages), automated comments, and the like.

For people who are just starting out on instagram and don’t know much about social strategy, these kinds of offers can be very tempting. After all, look at what they’re promising - quick, easy success without the hassle or the cost of hiring a social media manager. And the best part - most of these companies offer a very affordable price tag.

Here’s the thing - this strategy never works. Ever.
Let me explain why.

The point of using social media as a business tool is to connect with customers. And if you’re small and you’re still trying to build a solid audience and customer base, that means one thing - you need to find people who will be your champions. People who will talk about you and share your content and tell their friends. People who believe in your mission and your product and buy from you again and again.

Buying followers will not give you this result. Although you can get online, sign up for one of these automated programs, and get 1000+ followers in a couple of days, the majority of these followers will most likely be fake accounts that will never interact with your brand. What I mean by that is this - because they’re fake accounts, they’re not going to get on your instagram page and comment or share the post with their friends or buy your products. They exist solely as a statistic.

The other thing to keep in mind with these kinds of programs is the quality of the followers they deliver. Hootsuite wrote an amazing article on this subject where they did a test of one of these kinds of programs. They created a fake account with 0 followers and then paid a bot program that promised to deliver a large following in a matter of days. When they checked the account, the follower numbers had grown astonishingly quickly, but there were a number of problems. Not only did they find that the vast majority of their followers were fake accounts/bots, many of the accounts featured “a bizarre mix of teenagers posting shirtless selfies, accounts with no posts at all, and more than a few bots peddling webcam porn. Not a great audience for your brand to associate itself with.”

This same thing goes for the services that offer automated DMs, comments, and likes. Sure, they might help you connect with a ton of accounts really quickly, but the quality of the product they deliver will probably be sub par at best. Because here’s the truth - a robot cannot think strategically in the same way a social strategist can. A robot also cannot deliver authentic comments, likes, and interactions the way a person can.

And I’ll tell you a secret - people can always tell. Always.

People will know almost immediately when they receive an automated DM from an account because it will essentially look like junk mail - no personalization, no real interest in who they are or the things they like/care about. The entire point of it is to make a sale. And people can smell that from a mile away.

So yes, can you buy followers and automate your accounts and make your business look successful on social media in a matter of days? Of course. But it’s just like anything else - real success comes from hard work, a quality product, and collaborating with others.

The best guarantee for success on instagram? High quality content, knowing your audience, and cultivating strong, mutually beneficial relationships with other people.

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