With so many articles, tutorials and explanations available on why you shouldn’t buy Instagram followers and likes, many aspiring entrepreneurs and social media managers still think that it’s a good idea to purchase bots for Instagram promotion. Spoiler: it’s not. Not at all.
So in this blog, let’s put a full stop on this issue and once and for all realise why buying Instagram followers is not safe for your account.
Why people even buy Instagram followers in 2020
First of all, let’s dig deeper into the reasons why on earth social media managers and business owners even do want to buy bots and reckon this is quite helpful. Well, here are a few:
- You think that if you have few followers, others will not follow you, either.
- Competitors have a larger follower base, so you want to buy followers to get noticed.
- You want to have many likes and comments.
- You think that many followers equal many clients.
But the thing is that buying followers will not satisfy any of these needs. But what does help is the genuine solvent audience.
Why buying Instagram followers isn’t safe for your account
Buying Instagram followers will slowly kill your account. When you prioritise quantity over quality, you don’t give it a chance to attract a real audience that will later become your clients. As a result, real people that are potentially interested in your product or services won’t even see your content on Instagram.
Earlier, it was neither good nor bad to have fake followers on Instagram. Today, however, bought followers can do significant damage to your profile and even reputation negating all your financial efforts. Here’s why:
- Modern Instagram algorithms detect bots quickly and delete these accounts. Sometimes Instagram can even block your own account for having such followers.
- According to Instagram Community guidelines, buying fake followers is officially banned and is considered fraudulent. The platform can punish your account permanently without the possibility of recovery. Or you might experience a situation where your followers will not see your posts or won’t be able to find them by hashtags — the so-called shadowban.
- You won’t be able to analyse your account’s real performance. With many bots in your followership, you can’t estimate the real engagement, reach, number of genuine followers, etc. You won’t be able to detect if your efforts and costs are effective or not. Thus, social media management becomes a waste of time.
- Buying Instagram followers makes Instagram algorithms work in the wrong way and slows down an organic promotion.
- Bots will never buy your products nor ever visit your website.
So when you pay for bots, you just buy dead weight, plain numbers that don’t reflect the reality. Besides, these bots are often fake followers from different countries who are not interested in your Instagram nor your business.
To realise how fake followers can harm your account, we need to understand how Instagram algorithms even work.
Instagram feed became ‘smart’ in 2016, so since then, the platform has been showing you only those posts that it reckons you’ll find interesting. You will see only those posts or stories in your main feed with whose accounts you interact the most often (like, comment, view, or share).
At first, as you upload a post, Instagram ‘tests’ it and shows to a small percentage of your audience. If these people respond to it, the post is being shown to more and more people. If the content goes viral, it can even land on the Explore tab.
So you see the pattern here: the more people saw and interacted with your post, the more other people will see it. This is why this is in your best interest to have a genuine audience: bots will not interact with your posts, thus making them drown in the depth of the Instagram smart feed. Fewer people responded to your content, fewer chances it has to be discovered by anyone at all.
If you buy followers, your ER or reach doesn’t grow. If you’re lucky, it remains at the same level. So to flatter yourself not only with large followership but ER too, you will need to buy likes and comments as well. And this can kill your Instagram account without a possibility to revive it.
If 3–4 years ago these black promotion methods worked because people thought that the number of followers was the most important metric, now it doesn’t work. Social media managers and regular Instagram users are now aware of how the platform works: vanity metrics alone (likes and followers) don’t mean anything.
A lot more important is content, engagement and the whole ‘vibe’ of the page.
How Instagram punishes users for buying followers
Since such a promotion method is considered fraudulent, Instagram is actively fighting against such ways of Instagram marketing. Among the penalties, there might be:
- Action block
- Temporary account ban
- Permanent account ban
For the record, not only buying of Instagram followers is punishable; buying comments, likes, participating in engagement pods, and any strong automation will also put your page at risk of getting flagged.
What Instagram bots look like
A red flag is that with many followers, you gain few likes and comments. This might mean your audience isn’t genuine and consists of bots. Or the content you’re posting is simply boring. Let’s consider the first case, though.
Instagram bots are usually empty (or almost empty) accounts who follow many other pages. So if you see that a person doesn’t have any content on Instagram or follows hundreds of other accounts, that’s 99% a bot.
Here are a few other signs that might tell the account is a bot:
- Username consists of random letters and numbers.
- No profile picture.
- No followers or bot followers.
If you realise that your account is full of bots and you’re sure you never bought any, there must be a reason for this: you have either worked with a bad social media manager or you competitors try to kill your Instagram page leading bots to follow you. In any case, every so often, you need to purge your account from such people.
Surely, some of the real users can have the above signs too, so it’s hard to tell if your audience is full of bots. Unless you find the right tool.
Combin Growth is a tool that, due to its machine learning analysis, can detect the quality of your followers. To check if your audience is genuine and real, install the tool on your PC or Mac.
- Open the Search tab. Pick User search by Followers.
2. Type in your username into the specialized field.
3. Specify the number of search results.
4. Make sure the search analysis is enabled and click Find.
5. After getting the first batch of 500 followers, update the search to load 500 more items. Push the refresh button as many times as needed for your followers' quantity.
6. Interact with the followers — like and comment on their posts or give them a follow back.
Tips for organic Instagram promotion
- Don’t chase the vanity metrics; work on content strategy instead. As soon as you post quality, useful and engaging content, you will naturally gain your follower base.
- Work on the visual aesthetics of your grid layout. Instagram is a visually-focused platform, so it’s a must to have an appealing feed.
- Use all types of content supported by Instagram: posts, videos, IGTV, stories, Reels. Use interactive story stickers and be creative!
- Collaborate with relevant influencers and bloggers.
5. Analyse your performance from time to time.
6. Be consistent with your post timing and tone of voice.
7. Communicate with your followers. Try not to consider Instagram marketing as your duty; talk to customers like they’re your friends. And don’t forget to reply to their enquiries in comments or DM.