As you already know, in the majority of cases, success cannot be bought. And yet, cheating our way towards success is part of human nature. Success in the Instagram world is typically – incorrectly – defined by your followers' volume, the number of likes your posts receive, and/or the number of views your videos have. In my previous Instagram-related post, I explained that volume does not mean much in most cases if it comes with a low engagement rate. Unless you already have a ton of followers, even with a low engagement rate, you catch many people's attention. This association with volume is what leads people to buy Instagram followers. Or to buy Instagram likes and even views. But there is a reason why these are called fake followers, fake likes, and fake views.
There is probably some risk in me naming all the services that allow you to make such purchases. But I'm pretty sure you can figure it out. Or contact me privately. Now let's get to the point. People who buy Instagram followers and likes or views regret it, one way or another.
Why you should never buy Instagram followers
Let's say you have an account with 1000 followers. On average, you receive 100 likes, comments, shares, and saves combined for your posts. That leads to an above-average engagement rate of 10% for an account of that size (the average is 5-6%). That's great; your reach keeps increasing steadily but not fast enough. So why not buy 10,000 followers and speed up your growth? After all, at 10,000 followers, you can also add links to your stories, and that's a great feature for a creator or a business.
And then you go ahead and buy those 10,000 followers. Let's assume that up until that point, you were gaining 50 followers per day (that's way too generous, but it will do). So the day you buy those 10,000 followers, your follower gain will increase to at least 500-fold or even 10000-fold. For a single post, of course, depending on how fast your choice's service delivers followers. The next day you go back to 50 followers. As you already know, Instagram tracks all these events. So this is a crimson red flag for your account right there. You may or may not end up getting a ban just from this artificially created bump in your follower gain.
Let's assume, though, that you avoid a ban. These services market the followers they sell as “active” followers. Notice that they don't call them “actively engaging” followers. This is word manipulation at its best. When they say “active,” they mean that, for instance, if you buy 10,000 followers, you will be “actively” getting this number of followers forever. Meaning that even if some of them get banned, they will be replenished.
Follower quality again and again
Now let's see what kind of Instagram followers you buy. In essence, you buy inactive follower accounts created by bots, without even a profile picture. Or you buy inactive follower accounts created by real users. The keyword here is “inactive.”
The next day you make a post, and you receive 110 likes, comments, shares, and saves in total. But now you have 11,000 followers. Your post's coarse-grained engagement rate will be around… 1%! As this trend continues, Instagram will interpret it as follows: Ok, this account has had a significant drop in content quality, and their followers stopped caring. No front page, explore, or hashtag features for them.
In other words, when you are a store owner, you don't care how many people pass by your storefront. What matters is the number of people coming in and buying something. The fake followers you buy don't even pass by your street. So don't buy Instagram followers. You will either get banned or end up with an engagement rate that is detrimental to your account's success. And you will have to remove those followers manually or with a third-party app at a slower pace, let's say 100 followers per day, to get your account back in shape. See you in 100 days!
Why you should NEVER buy Instagram likes and views
“Ok, so if I buy 10,000 followers and 1,000 likes per post, I will be fine, right?” No, in fact, this increases the chance of getting a ban to virtually 100%. Have you noticed that services like Later, Hootsuite, Iconosquare, Flick, and many others state that they are perfectly safe to use with Instagram? First off, that is true. But let's see why.
Access to the Instagram Graph API
Every web, desktop, or mobile app that requires access to the Instagram Graph API needs to pass an approval process to get access to the Instagram Graph API. This pretty much means that the application will need to guarantee a certain extent of user security and privacy. When an application receives that access, it can use the full Instagram public Graph API. And that's where the problems start. Instagram analytics tools and planners use parts of the API that are not susceptible to spammy behavior and bots. These parts expose Instagram insights and statistics, post or story creation, direct messages, and even comments on your comment. But they don't include likes, views, shares, saves, or anything of that sort. Now, if you are a developer, you must have figured this out already.
What happens when you buy Instagram likes or views
Something nasty. The part of the API associated with viewing content and liking content is pretty much restricted to the official Instagram apps, web, desktop, or mobile. So let's call this the Unsafe Instagram API. Organic social media growth companies like Upleap, Kicksta, Socialgrowth, and many others do not overuse the Unsafe Instagram API so that your account won't be flagged. Although there are some gray areas with those services, let's leave this discussion for another post.
Services that sell Instagram likes and views overuse the Unsafe Instagram API. When you buy 1000 likes per post, 1000 bots send 1000 HTTP requests directly to your post id to like your post. These requests come externally, not from any official Instagram app. Not only that, but these bots don't view your content; they send the like request. At the same time, keep in mind that Instagram tracks who views what; that's how to post “impressions” to calculate post reach and impressions. So these 1,000 bots will provide 1,000 likes with 0 impressions in a matter of minutes. As a matter of fact, if you view the analytics of your posts on external analytics tools, you will notice that these bought Instagram likes are not even taken into account.
Bottom line: Instagram knows what you are doing. Whether you will get banned or how soon it will happen depends on their tolerance. But your account now has a black flag on it. My experimental account received a permanent ban after less than 10 posts, for which I had bought 250 Instagram likes per post. Buying Instagram views works in the same way, they won't be counted, and they won't increase your engagement rate and reach. These purchases are just ticking bombs for your account.
What all this means for the Instagram follower, like or view buyer
As you can see in the above image, I contacted Buzzoid's support about all this. Buzzoid was the service I used to buy Instagram followers and likes. I could not get a refund for buying Instagram followers, and that's because they did not promise anything that they did not deliver. I got 1,500 “active” followers, actively doing nothing. And I had to remove them manually. Unfortunately, I was impatient, I removed too many followers too soon using a third-party app, and I ended up losing my main account too. Deservingly so.
So, when you buy Instagram followers, you only buy a number. That's fine, but they market it in such a disgustingly shady and misleading way. On the other hand, when you buy Instagram likes — and the same is true for when you buy Instagram views — they straight out scam you, which pretty much renders the whole transaction illegal. Am I right? Keep in mind that in all three cases, your account may end up in the rubbish bin, whether the service scams you or not. These actions are all violations of Instagram's ToS, and as I explained, very easily trackable.
One more thing. These services never allow you to buy Instagram followers and likes together in one package. Let's say 10,000 followers who will all like your posts in the same time frame. The reason is that both parties will be hurt. You will lose your account, but they will lose many of their follower accounts as Instagram will mark them as bots. Remember that in some cases, this large number of accounts was created and populated by humans. Humans in a third-world country, probably… Instead, they use disposable bot accounts for likes. And you lose these likes when Instagram eventually marks and disables those accounts.
What you should do if you bought fake followers, likes or views
- If you bought fake Instagram followers, you would have to remove them manually. You can ask for a refund, but you probably won't get it as they have no way of removing those bot followers. They didn't bother to write that part of bot code.
- If you bought Instagram likes or views, fake of course, you must ask for a refund. These people play games with your money, and these services should be shut down. But well, almost everything is allowed on the Internet.
- Also, I encourage you to share this post or similar posts to inform people who fall victim to such services. And to help me make my content more popular, of course, if you think it's of value.
- Finally, subscribe to my blog; I have more bad news for you. Always with proof, of course.
Never buy Instagram followers and likes/views, period
Never buy Instagram followers and likes or views. Consider yourself warned and focus on genuine organic social media growth instead. Everybody is allowed to make mistakes, but such actions only harm the social media presence of your business. Finally, if you are interested in the full conversation with Buzzoid about my bought followers and likes feel free to leave a comment and I will either update this post or make a new one.