Should You Buy Instagram Followers? Don‘t Waste Your Time and Money

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We‘ve all been tempted to take shortcuts to social media success. But when it comes to buying Instagram followers, resist the urge. Fake followers cause more harm than good.

In this expansive guide, we‘ll explore the reasons people buy followers, unpack the ugly truths behind follower fraud, discuss serious risks, and share smart ways to grow your Instagram without fake fans.

By the end, you‘ll see why buying followers is never the right answer. There are always better options to authentically engage your audience and organically expand your reach. Let‘s dive in!

The Alluring Illusion of Bought Followers

Before we puncture the bubble, it‘s helpful to understand why buying followers can seem so enticing.

Quick Vanity Metrics Boost

Imagine you have a lifestyle brand with 300 Instagram followers built up over a year of effort. Then you stumble upon a website offering 1,000 followers for $49.99.

Boom – overnight you have over 1,300 followers and finally hit that coveted four digit milestone! Your account looks more popular, even if the new fans are imaginary. For under fifty bucks you skipped months of tedious growth.

But did those new followers actually get you closer to your business goals? Probably not. Still, the temptation is understandable.

"Buying followers is like putting costume jewelry on your account. From afar it sparkles, but up close it‘s fake."

Perception of Social Proof

Humans are wired to follow the herd. If we see an account with 50,000 followers, we assume it‘s good and worthy of our own follow. We think "Well all those other people can‘t be wrong, right?"

But with bought followers, the herd is an illusion. Still, it‘s human nature to equate popularity with quality. Few dig deeper behind the numbers shown.

Quick Ego Boost

Let‘s be honest – followers stroke our egos. More fans = more social proof = more status. Even if deep down we know the followers are fake, it feels good to see a bigger number.

For people desperate for validation through social media, buying followers provides hollow but immediate satisfaction.

Monetization Motivations

Influencers earn money from sponsorships and affiliates based on the size of their audience. More followers can lead directly to more income.

While social media analytics tools can detect fake followers, some brands only look at raw follower counts. So bought followers may help line pockets…temporarily.

But are shortcuts truly worthwhile if they fizzle out or backfire? Let‘s look behind the curtain at what you‘re really getting when you buy followers.

An Ugly Truth: Fake Followers are Just That – FAKE

Before you click purchase on a website selling Instagram followers, it‘s critical to understand what you won‘t be getting:

Real Engaged Humans

Most bought Instagram followers are NOT real people but rather bots, inactive accounts, and click farms.

Expect no genuine likes, comments, or shares of your content from ghost followers. They won‘t watch Stories or Live videos. They‘re artificial fans, incapable of engagement.

A study by SocialChain analyzed over 3 million Instagram accounts and found 65% of bought followers are fake or inactive. Ghost town accounts.

"If you think fake followers are real people, I‘ve got a bridge to sell you."

Meaningful Audience Growth

Followers purchased online don‘t help you build a real audience and community around your brand. The growth is all smoke and mirrors.

Your actual target audience remains unchanged. Sure the vanity metrics improve, but bought followers don‘t spread brand awareness through word-of-mouth or viral shares.

Poor Meghan of @TheFashionDiva saw this firsthand:

"I bought 10k followers thinking it would kickstart my growth. But then I realized…those followers didn‘t actually care about my account or share my content. My real audience stayed tiny."

Purchased followers are merely props on a fake set. They don‘t expand your reach or strengthen your brand.

Increased Visibility

Fake followers also don‘t assist with visibility and discovery of your content. Quite the opposite in fact…

Bought Followers Can Damage Your Organic Reach

Fill your followers list with ghost accounts, and Instagram‘s algorithm will smell something fishy. So while you might have more followers, your actual content reach can decrease.

Here are two ways fake fans backfire:

Skewed Metrics Throw Off The Algorithm

Instagram carefully calculates your engagement rate – the percentage of followers that likes and comments on your posts. This helps surface content users will find relevant.

But when you have thousands of fake accounts following you, your overall engagement rate plummets. Suddenly only 5% of followers interact vs. 30% for similar accounts with real fans.

Instagram interprets this as your content not resonating. Your posts then get shown less through hashtags and the main feed. Buying followers shoots yourself in the foot!

"I lost thousands of followers overnight, but my engagement went from 3% to 30%. Instagram finally stopped suppressing my real reach!"
  • Sara P. @ShopSaraPete

Reduced Visibility from Follow/Unfollow

Here‘s another sneaky way fake followers reduce your visibility.

Many services trickle new followers to you each day, then remove a portion after some time passes. This way it looks like you have steady growth.

But to Instagram, this looks like suspect activity. And too many unfollows is a red flag for inauthentic growth. So your posts get pushed down as punishment.

Between poor engagement rates and shady growth patterns, fake followers can wreck your organic reach. Much less visibility for the content you worked hard on!

More Ways Buying Followers Backfires

Beyond dismal engagement and reduced visibility, purchased followers come with additional downsides:

  • No sales – Fake followers don‘t convert to customers. You need real fans who know, like and trust you.

  • Brand risk – Getting caught buying followers hurts your reputation. Audiences want authenticity, not illusion.

  • Waste of money – Funds spent on fake followers provide no actual business value. Quite the opposite in fact!

  • Instagram crackdowns – Regular purges delete millions of inauthentic accounts, wiping out bought followers overnight.

  • Analytics confusion – Mixed data from real and fake followers makes your Instagram metrics unreliable and misleading.

Still thinking buying followers seems harmless? Let‘s examine the serious risks you take ordering fake fans online.

Grave Dangers of Buying Followers

Beyond just being ineffective, purchasing followers can jeopardize everything you‘ve built:

Account Deletion

Buying followers clearly violates Instagram‘s Terms of Service. If discovered, Instagram will delete your account without warning, no matter how big it is.

"I had 350k followers when Instagram deleted my account for buying likes and followers. I lost years of hard work in an instant."
  • Fitness Influencer @BeachGains

Is the temporary ego boost of a inflated follower count worth the very real possibility of total account termination? For most, it‘s simply not a risk worth taking.


Before banning you, Instagram may first "shadowban" your account. This means your content gets hidden from hashtag searches and the main feed. Followers stop seeing your posts without realizing you‘re shadowbanned. Reach plummets overnight without warning. Many turn to buying followers to compensating, making the problem worse. It‘s a vicious cycle.

Brand Backlash

Nothing kills your influencer cred faster than getting exposed for buying followers. Fans feel lied to and lose trust. Brands won‘t want to risk associating with you. It‘s reputation suicide.

"After a expose revealed her fake followers, sponsors dropped @DetoxTeaQueen and her follower count tanked. Don‘t risk it all for vanity metrics."

The temporary illusion of popularity thanks to fake followers comes at a heavy cost. Now let‘s explore smarter ways to grow your Instagram account.

Grow Your Influence the Right Way

While buying followers offers short-term gains but long-term pain, building your account organically takes more work up front but offers lasting stability and rewards.

Here are effective tactics to earn real Instagram followers:

Post Valuable Content

Post content your target audience actually finds helpful, interesting or entertaining. Provide value through education, humor, inspiration, or entertainment. Think about why someone would follow you and cater to that.

"I went from selfies to posting actionable social media tips for entrepreneurs. Followers increased 10x in a year."
  • Sabrina @SociallySavvyCEO

Optimize Your Hashtags

Hashtags help people outside your existing network discover your posts. Do keyword research to find relevant hashtags, then test combinations to see which perform best. Mix high-volume tags like #instagood with niche tags like #SocialMediaTips.

Engage With Your Niche

Comment on and share content from similar accounts you admire. Like and reply to comments on your own posts. Collaborate on content with complementary influencers. Become an active part of the Instagram community around your brand.

Run Paid Ads

Consider taking the paid promotion route through Instagram and Facebook ads. You can target your ads by location, age, interests etc. to reach potential new followers likely to convert. Paid growth done right!

Analyze and Improve

Study Instagram analytics for your posts to see when your audience is most active and what content performs best. Tailor your strategy around these insights. Are shorter videos better than long videos? Do followers prefer educational quotes or behind-the-scenes looks? Let the data guide you.

Post More Stories

Post fun and interesting Stories consistently, and engage with followers through Q&As and polls. Stories help build familiarity and trust with your audience.

"I doubled my Instagram follower growth simply by being more active with Stories."
  • Andrea, @BakesbyAndrea

Go Live

Broadcast live videos to tap into the immediacy and excitement of streaming. Instagram pushes live videos to a broader audience. Use Live to reveal your brand personality, share news, or launch products.

Partner With Influencers

Collaborate on giveaways or content with influencers in your space who have engaged audiences. This exposes you to fresh potential followers already interested in your niche.

With persistence and savvy strategy focused on value and engagement, you‘ll build an authentic Instagram following that supports your goals…without buying a single ghost follower.

Take the High Road to Social Media Success

While buying Instagram followers is tempting on the surface, hopefully this guide has revealed why it‘s a fool‘s errand.

Focus your time and money instead on delighting your real fans with amazing content and growing new relationships in your niche.

Patience and commitment to doing it the right way – the authentic way – will earn you lasting rewards and loyal followers.

So steer clear of the dark side of buying followers. You‘ll only end up wasting money and jeopardizing your account. Keep it real. Keep it authentic. That‘s the only true path to influencer success and social media satisfaction.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.