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Follower growth can be a major source of stress when starting an Instagram account from scratch.

The early days of an Instagram account are frustrating, but trying to fast-track your growth will do more harm than good. Most people can smell fake followers from a mile away.

Organic growth takes patience. Explore with us why buying Instagram followers is a bad idea and what you should do instead.

girl with hand up saying never buy instagram followers

What Buying Instagram Followers Does to Your Business Account

Whether you’re a brand or an influencer, buying followers might be tempting for a laundry list of reasons. You might believe that a low follower count will make users wary of your credibility. You see your competitors with more followers and you want to get noticed too.

Followers do not come before successful content. When your content is quality and worthwhile, the followers come naturally.

You may also believe more followers = more customers. This is not exactly the case. Real, authentic followers care about your content and will buy from your brand. Fake followers will never deliver a return on investment. A few followers who comment on your posts and purchase your products are much more valuable than 100 followers who you’ll never see.

To authentically grow your Instagram account, you need to keep everything balanced. When you suddenly increase your followers but not your comments, your engagement rate suffers. If you have a lot of followers but only receive impersonal bot comments, then your account looks spammy. When your account looks fake, that leaves a horrible impression on your potential followers, and Instagram may give you the boot.

Consider the consequences that come with buying followers before you start pulling out your credit card:

Your Engagement Rate Doesn’t Increase

You may be looking to increase your Instagram engagement rate, but buying fake followers won’t do it. When someone sees an account with a lot of followers but no comments, it looks bad.

If you are a social media influencer, anybody looking to work with you is going to look at your engagement rate. If your followers aren’t engaging with you, they aren’t going to see you as a strong influencer.

There is a certain level of engagement that genuine accounts receive determined by the number of followers they have. For example, if you have 1,000 to 10,000 followers and only a two percent engagement rate, then your account is not going to look authentic.

If you are buying likes and comments then your engagement rate might be too high for what is considered normal engagement for your following size. The only way to not look suspicious is to grow your following authentically.

You’ll Receive Bot and Spam Comments on Posts

Speaking of those comments, they aren’t the comments you want. Do you want a comment that says, “nice posts” on everything you post? You may make a post about being sick and receive a “good one” comment.

Even worse you may receive inappropriate comments on your posts or links to other websites. You may even find yourself spreading spam. These accounts can’t be trusted, and they may just spam your content. This looks horrible for anybody considering following you. Once they get a whiff of bot and spam behavior, they are out of there.

You Risk Being Shadowbanned

Buying followers is against Instagram’s Terms of Use. If you are buying followers, then best case scenario, Instagram warns you to stop. Worst-case scenario, it will suspend your account.

Sometimes Instagram won’t warn you and just shadowban your Instagram profile. Your attempt to increase your engagement just took a really bad turn. This means your content won’t be showing up on explore pages. You’ll now have to work twice as hard to be seen. It’s best to stay on the Instagram algorithm’s good side.

Fake Accounts Ruin Your Reputation

Someone who is buying followers is not a genuine influencer. The goal of an influencer is to influence people. You will not be influencing any of the people behind those accounts — there aren’t people behind those accounts.

Taking shortcuts instead of taking the time to grow a quality Instagram account will take away any credibility you had as an influencer. For the reasons above, we know that fake followers easily stand out on your page.

You would rather be a small influencer with the potential to grow than an influencer with fake accounts messing with your page. The future you will thank you for staying authentic and real. Buying followers quickly turns into an uphill battle.

You Won’t Make Money

The fake accounts you added to your followers list are not going to buy your products or recommend you to anybody. They will not become a community that promotes your brand.

Instagram also purges fake accounts. These followers that you bought will slowly disappear. Work for that one follower that will stick around and engage rather than wasting your time looking for fake accounts.

How to Grow Your Following Organically

Instead of buying followers, create content that attracts followers. Focus on your content and what it can do for people. If you’re posting quality content in a niche that has an audience, they will find you.

Instagram Ads

If you’re looking to spend money to grow your account, you can consider buying Instagram ads. This will increase your reach and bring you new followers, if your content is worthwhile. This is a way to spend money and attract people who actually want to see your content. Your ads will appeal to those who would enjoy your account.

Bring Value

Make sure that you’re bringing value to your audience’s day and not simply talking about yourself or your business. Keep your content about the audience. Is your content educational? Entertaining? Inspiring? Think about why someone wants to follow you and stay consistent.

Use Specific Hashtags

Hashtags are one way to show up on a users’ search or explore pages. Don’t waste your time with broad hashtags, use very specific tags so that if you’re seen it will be by people interested in your content. Using irrelevant hashtags will only get you seen by people who won’t stick around.

Interact With the Community

Interact with the followers you do have. Respond to every comment and make your account look human.

Engage with other accounts. Comment on your followers’ posts. Network with other brands in your niche. Supporting others brings support to your page. Collaborating with other influencers and brands helps you reach new people.

If you’re looking for a high-quality influencer for brand awareness, make sure you’re checking their Instagram profile for fake accounts.

Nobody wants to work with fake accounts. Authentic connection only comes from human interaction. All other interactions will only turn people away. For long-term success, grow your account authentically from the start. You are building a brand and a reputation. Don’t risk that for any false hopes of taking shortcuts.