Why Buying Instagram Followers is a Really Bad Idea

How many times have you seen somebody pushing you to buy Instagram followers cheaply? To somebody hoping to make it as an influencer, it must be tempting; an easy way to boost your Instagram clout without having to work for it. But as with most things in life, there is a catch. Bought Instagram followers are not the same as the followers you genuinely earn through the quality of your posts. Indeed, buying Instagram followers can lead to quite a few problems, and shred your online reputation at the same time.

Why Buying Instagram Followers is a Really Bad Thing:

Why Buying Instagram Followers is a Really Bad Thing

1. Fake Instagram Followers Don’t Engage

There are two main types of fake Instagram followers. The first is the follower who has agreed to take a small sum of money in return for going on a Fake Follower list. They let someone add them as a follower to thousands of people they don’t know and have no interest in. They will happily pocket what money they can, but they certainly won’t take any interest in the accounts that they “follow.” They will never look at your posts or engage with you in any way.

The second type of fake follower isn’t a real person. “He” is a bot – merely a piece of code masquerading as an Instagram follower. In theory, some bots do engage – they make automated, often nonsensical, comments, on some of your posts. But these mean nothing. These followers definitely don’t engage with any thought – they may be some form of AI, but there is no deep learning involved. They are unlikely to be programmed to learn from your content. And even if they were, is that what social engagement is all about?

What is the point of a follower on Instagram, or any other social network, if he/she doesn’t engage? The whole reason that these online hubs are called social networks is that they are platforms for people to be social.

2. Your Engagement is Mismatched

Human beings are relatively predictable creatures. No matter how important you are, your genuine human followers will most likely follow a relatively typical pattern of engagement. Admittedly, larger accounts receive less engagement than smaller accounts, but there is still a general pattern:

  • < 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

Your engagement rates won’t match these numbers exactly – they are just averages - but they should be in the general vicinity of these percentages.

If you have fake followers, however, your engagement will be noticeably different from these averages. Your fake followers will generally not be engaging in any way – and this will drag your engagement rate down.

One thing you should check out, though, is any “useless comment” type of engagement. The people who sell fake followers have recognized this engagement problem, and some of them now have bots making fake, but useless, comments, to boost engagement rates. If you see that somebody just makes “nice picture” type comments you can make a safe assumption that they are a fake Instagram follower.

3. Bought Followers Bring Spam

instagram spam

If you buy followers, you will generally have to provide your email address at some point. By doing so, you are opening yourself to vast quantities of spam. Indeed many of the people selling followers are doing so with the sole aim of gaining access to your email address for spam reasons.

Once you accept them as a follower, you are also giving them access to your other followers. Some of your followers will accept the spammers as their followers, just because they see that they are followers of you. Once they discover what you have sent them, you may find that your genuine followers purge you at the same time they remove the fake followers.

4. You End up With Inappropriate and Useless Comments

Another way that people who peddle fake followers can boost their engagement rates is to make inappropriate or irrelevant comments. These are worse than the “nice picture” comments, which although of little value are at least probably true. In this case, your “followers” leave comments that are utterly irrelevant to your post’s content.

For instance, you might find that a follower has left a comment on your image of a beautiful sunset promoting a sex toy or some politician in a country you have never been to.

Often these followers simply use your posts as a free advertising medium. In reality, this is of no value to anyone. You are unlikely to buy the product in question, nor are your genuine followers. Indeed it is hard to imagine anybody buying a promoted product that hijacks somebody's Instagram post.

5. Fake Followers Will Never Buy Your Product or Service

Fake followers are obviously not going to spend any money with you. Whether they are bots (who cannot spend money with anybody) or real people merely playing a game for money, makes no difference. They have zero interest in you, and no intention of spending any money on your product or service.

6. Accounts with Fake Followers Lack Credibility

It isn’t that hard to spot an account with a sizeable number of fake followers. This is particularly easy for people and brands who use platforms or agencies to assist in their influencer selection.

This means that anybody who deliberately buys followers are unlikely to remain an influencer for long. By engaging in the practice, you are at risk of destroying your credibility.

Even if businesses don’t opt to use a platform or agency, if they use any of the software we highlight below they will quickly spot if you have bought fake followers.

Ultimately, people who notice your use of fake followers will begin to doubt your credibility as an influencer or business. They will question how ethical your dealings might be.

7. Instagram Purges Fake Followers

Ove time Instagram has become skillful at spotting fake followers. They don’t want their followers having a poor user experience.

This means that the money you spend on fake followers may quickly become wasted anyhow, as your fake followers are removed from Instagram one-by-one.

8. Buying Fake Followers Breaks Instagram’s Terms of Service

Instagram has made it very clear that they do not approve of people buying fake followers. As far as they are concerned the buyer (you) is just as guilty as the seller (the fake followers). Instagram reserves the right to ban both buyers and sellers.

If you buy fake Instagram followers, Instagram may ban your account for encouraging dishonest practices.

Sure, every account has some fake followers. But if you buy fake followers, you will have higher than the typical percentage of fake followers, and Instagram will quickly notice this.

Tools to Help You Find Fake Instagram Followers

There is a range of free and paid tools you can use to either discover which of your followers are fake, or whether a particular account suffers from having an excessive number of fake followers.

Until recently one of the more comprehensive tools you could use was Deep Social. Unfortunately, Deep Social is currently permanently discontinuing their service and are commencing a winding down process of their company. A side effect of Facebook and Instagram's recent privacy-related changes is that it is now harder to access information about accounts.

1. Influencer Marketing Hub Instagram Audit Tool [Fake Follower & Audience Credibility Checker]

Take away much of your worry about the credibility of potential influencers. You can enter any influencer's Instagram handle into our free Instagram Bot Analytics Tool [Instagram Audit - Fake Follower & Audience Credibility Checker], and it will give you an excellent guide to the genuineness of the account.

The tool takes into account factors such as the account's avatar, number of accounts followed vs. following ratio, following, fake followers, number of posts, number of likes received vs. number of likes ratio in an attempt to establish the audience quality score of the Instagram account.

Any real influencers who work at ensuring their audience are genuine should attain scores of 80 or above.

2. Fakecheck

FakeCheck allows you to determine whether your Instagram Account has fake followers with a Social Engagement Check.

It collects data about an account followers' engagement levels.

It is a paid service. When you search for an account, you can unlock its report by using credits. You buy credits – the more credits you buy, the less it costs per credit.

3. HypeAuditor

HypeAuditor is a powerful tool that allows you to analyze any Instagram account for fake followers and likes. It [provides each account with an Audience Quality Score (AQS) for Instagram. This allows advertisers to check influencers before they actually work together.

The Audience Quality Score is a score out of 100. It analyzes an account’s Engagement Rate, Authentic Engagement, and Followers’ Reachability. It uses AI to detect cheating and sporadic followers who will never make a profit for your brand.

You pay for an Instagram report with tokens - 1 token = 1 Instagram report for 1 month. The more tokens you buy, the cheaper each token is. If you just want to check a single account, one token will cost you $1.99.

4. Social Audit Pro

Social Audit Pro is 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. Larger packages are available if you have higher requirements than the standard packages.

After auditing your account, you can optionally remove those followers who have been flagged as fake or dormant by Social Audit Pro, directly from within the app.

5. IG Audit

IG Audit is a free tool to check on the validity of public Instagram accounts. If you are suspicious about an account, you just enter their username into IG Audit's search box. It will give you an estimate of the account’s real to fake follower percentage.

It also shows the account's average likes and comments (along with expected figures for each statistic).

It offers the @justinbieber account as an example. Bieber has a Real Follower Percentage of 74.70%.

About the Author
The Influencer Marketing Hub Team brings together a diverse group of experts with a passion for influencer marketing, digital trends, and social media strategies. Each piece of content crafted by this team is researched and written to provide valuable insights, tips, and updates for our readers. Our authors are dedicated to delivering high-quality, informative, and engaging articles that help businesses and influencers thrive in this rapidly changing digital world.