You could grow your Instagram following the honest way—crafting a thoughtful strategy, setting smart goals, sharing great content, and engaging your audience. Or you could take the quick and easy path and join the dark side of Instagram marketing.
You could buy Instagram followers.
We created a dummy account to test that tactic to find out whether or not it’s worth it (spoiler alert: it totally is if you want an audience of spambots peddling softcore porn). Jump ahead to the results of our experiment or continue reading to learn about the “why” and “how” of buying Instagram followers.
Why buy Instagram followers?
Brands, celebrities, influencers, and even politicians have been known to pad their social media stats by adding fake followers.
Why do they do it?
It’s about perception. The number of followers is something that many people look at when sizing up an account to follow and it’s a common metric that brands use to measure their own Instagram efforts.
If you’re thinking about buying Instagram followers, it might be because you’re looking for a quick thousand followers to get the ball rolling, hoping that will encourage real people to check out your brand. Quality over quantity is a nice sentiment, but the reality is, many people judge an Instagram account by it’s numbers.
Also, buying Instagram followers is cheap and easy to do, as you’re about to learn.
How buying Instagram followers works
First, it’s important to note the distinction we’re making here between the explicit act of buying followers and the more loosely defined practice of Instagram automation.
Instagram automation can refer to the act of allowing a bot to like and comment on your behalf. If you’d like to learn more about that ill-advised shortcut, check out our post I Tried Instagram Automation (So You Don’t Have To).
Buying followers on Instagram, on the other hand, is exactly that. You link your account to a service, make payment, and watch your audience grow.
It can be quite cheap, with many services charging around $3 USD for every 100 followers. But you get what you pay for. In most cases that’s bots and zombie accounts (inactive accounts that have been taken over by bots).
There are also more expensive options that charge upwards of $1,000 for 10,000 followers. Those services maintain active accounts that will interact with your own.
Some tools will follow users on your behalf in the hopes that they return the favor. You’ll be asked what kind of accounts you want to follow based on things such as location, hashtag usage, similar accounts, and gender. Then after a predetermined time the bot unfollows anyone that didn’t follow you back.
The Instagram follower tool we experimented with didn’t do any of that. In fact, our dummy account has never followed anyone—bot or real user.
What happened when we decided to buy Instagram followers
We opted for a tool that promised 1,000 “quality” followers for $9.95 USD.
To link the account we simply had to input our username, @fruitless.strategy, and made payment using a prepaid Visa (no one in the office was willing to give up their own banking details for this nefarious purpose).
We hit the “Get Followers Now” button at 11:41 a.m. on a Tuesday and opened the Instagram app to track the results.
Almost immediately our audience grew from zero to 12 followers, and every time we refreshed the app after that we had a few more.
Two hours into the experiment we had 412 new fans. At this point we decided to post a photo to see how engaged our followers were.
The results matched our expectations—which were zero. We didn’t get one Like or comment.
We surpassed 1,000 followers by noon the next day, but our post still had no kind of engagement whatsoever. Even months later, not a single follower has given us a double-tap.