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Should You Buy Followers on Instagram?
Julia Cohen
Julia Cohen
Posted Wed Aug 21 2019
In Instagram Marketing

More and more, it seems that the people who want to grow their Instagram accounts are asking the question – should I buy Instagram followers? Growing an Instagram can be understandably tough and sometimes frustrating, which makes trying out something like automation even more appealing.

Sure, Instagram automation tools do take out a lot of hard work, and can help you gain followers fast, but it can really harm your account in the long run. More importantly, the followers that you will rack up are likely to have little to no interest in the content you post. This means there’s a high chance they could unfollow, or fail to interact with your posts at all, which would prove to be a waste of your hard-earned cash.

We’re going to walk you through the different types of automation on Instagram, and how they can potentially harm your account, as well as some alternative options that will both grow your account, and attract an authentic audience that is responsive to your content.

What is Instagram automation? 🤔

Let’s talk about it. Automation, when it comes to Instagram appears in many forms. It can range from simple tools that allow you to purchase followers, to bots that will like, comment and DM others from your account, at mass, in a short space of time. Effectively, these tools are designed (and normally promise) to boost your Instagram page quickly or even increase your engagement rate, so that you appear to have a profitable page and audience.

To put the effects of accounts built on automation into context:

“buying followers or hiring click farms to like and comment on posts will cost advertisers $1.3 billion this year.”

Crazy, right?

So, if you are umming and ahhing about whether or not you should use automation tools to boost your own account, first take a look at why it might be detrimental to the health of your account, and what alternative options you might not yet have considered.

What rules are being broken by using automated services? 🙅‍♀️

The way bots use Instagram’s API is definitely outside of what’s permitted. Here are some of Instagram’s API general terms automation tools violate:

  • Don’t store or cache Instagram login credentials.
  • Don’t use the Instagram API to simply display User Content, import or backup content, or manage Instagram relationships, without our prior permission.
  • Ensure your comments are uniquely tailored for each person. Don’t post unauthorized commercial communication or spam on Instagram.
  • Don’t participate in any “like”, “share”, “comment” or “follower” exchange programs.
  • Don’t enable a business to take more than one action on Instagram at a time.
  • Don’t use an unreasonable amount of bandwidth, or adversely impact the stability of Instagram.com servers or the behavior of other apps using the Instagram APIs.

Buying Instagram Actions 💸

Currently, buying actions on Instagram is one of the most ‘popular’ methods of automation, and Instagram have been taking action to shut down platforms that allow this. You can set up bots that will perform different actions from your account – like liking and commenting on photos. However, you run the risk of breaking one of Instagram’s golden rules, as the comments posted by bots can be super generic or irrelevant which is an obvious sign to others, that you are using an automation tool. Also, these tools don’t really have any boundaries, and may end up getting you into some sticky situations by liking photos on your behalf that you might of erm, not otherwise liked…

Furthermore, Instagram shadow-bans accounts that perform actions like liking or following too quickly, as it tells them that you are using automation tools. This might mean that your content will stop appearing in suggested feeds, or that you may not be allowed to like or comment on posts for a specific time period. This flags your account to Instagram, and can actually make it a lot harder to grow!

What’s the alternative to buying actions on Instagram?💡

Hard work that pays off. This solution takes a lot of dedication but will help you build a truly organic Instagram account. Research your niche, and accounts that you take inspiration from. From there, organically interact with the followers of these accounts or hashtags you want to appear in. Comment and like on their posts, because it then allows them to discover your profile, once you’ve brought your account to their attention. This will also help you reach the audience you want, and they will be more likely to engage with you, as you’ve already engaged with them!

If you aren’t sure where to start, consider first the way you are engaging with other accounts. Pay attention to what they are posting, and make specific comments that are tailored to that content. This will allow you to form a connection with the user, but will also show them that you really appreciate their content, and genuinely mean it! If you see a makeup look you like, don’t just say ‘great look!’, talk about what details the look features, that makes it so great!

Buying Instagram Followers 

The most common reason that people use automation tools or bots on Instagram, is to boost their follower count. Whilst this works in the short term, there are a plethora of problems associated with the types of accounts that you’ll start to see in your notifications. Let’s take a look at them:

Bot Accounts 🤖

Some automation tools give you the option to effectively ‘buy Instagram followers’ – but where do they come from? The answer is, a lot of these accounts aren’t actually real – they’re known as bot accounts. They can perform automated activities and can follow your account, but there is no one physically behind the screen when it comes to these types of profiles – this means, they will never, or will very rarely engage with your account. This makes it more obvious that they are fake accounts to your followers, but also to Instagram.

Real Accounts 👋

In some instances, the accounts that will follow you when you ‘buy Instagram followers’ will be real accounts. Great, in theory? In reality, not so much. Here’s why…

When you do gain real followers as a result of automation, you have to remember, they are somehow being compensated to follow you. They aren’t following you because they share the same interests as you, or really love your content. This means they don’t really have any attachment to you or your account.

The problem with this, is that if you have a bunch of users that follow you, who aren’t interested in your profile, your engagement-to-follower ratio will suffer because they won’t be driven to like, comment or interact with your content. This low ratio will also communicate to Instagram that your account is of low quality, making your posts unlikely to feature as suggested content on feeds – losing you the opportunity to gain followers that might actually love your account! Furthermore, they can easily hit that unfollow button after some time, which in the long-run can mean that the money you originally spent on buying these Instagram followers, is wasted.

What’s more, is that Instagram periodically purges fake accounts on their platform, so if any bot accounts might be following you as a result of buying Instagram followers, you could see a huge dip in your follower numbers during one of these culls. This can also impact the integrity of your personal or brand image, as it is relatively easy to check profile stats. Big spikes in follower growth over the space of a short period of time, suggest to future prospective partners that you may have bought your followersand when it comes to securing partnerships, the one thing you need is trust.

What’s the alternative to buying Instagram followers?💡

If you want to achieve organic growth, and attract followers that will enjoy and engage with your content, a great way to do this is through optimizing your hashtags. Hashtags are like categories, and by picking the right ones, that describe your content well, you can reach audiences that are interested in your posts. 

If you were an emerging makeup artist with 1,000 followers and 200 average likes on your posts, you might feature beauty-related hashtags, that contain posts that perform at a similar level to you. This means your content is more likely to be seen and perform well, but also means you will reach an audience interested in what your Instagram has to offer, upping your follower count and your engagement rate.

Flick can help you find out which hashtags you will perform the best on, and see the most growth with, here.

Buying Instagram Engagement👍

Another type of automation you might be considering is buying comments and likes for your photos. This is a way to mimic engagement, in the hopes that more partners will see your account as profitable to work with.

However, this too is pretty detectable as Instagram (and prospective partners!) are clueing in on how to spot accounts that have used this type of automation. Firstly, users can look into who is liking your photos – if they are bot accounts, with few posts, similar names and often no followers, that would be strike one.

buy instagram followers

Secondly, the comments that would be posted on your page are extremely generic, and not tailored to the type of content you put out. So, let’s say you post a cute picture of your newborn and a comment pops up saying “wow you look amazing here” – it’s not really relevant is it? This makes it easy to spot fake comments on posts, especially if you are a brand, as they will be generic, and not organic. Instagram is also cracking down on these automation suppliers, and are starting to penalize accounts that utilize them, so users have to be careful.

What’s the alternative to buying Instagram engagement?💡

One of the best ways to create engagement on your platform is by creating or joining communities on Instagram. Find people who have a similar niche and follower count to you, and give them some love. You can form relationships and private groups on the platform where you support each other’s content, which can allow their audience to discover you, and vice versa! Also, make sure your captions are engaging and encourage a response. Ask your followers questions, tell them something they don’t know and show them that their opinion matters to you. This will up your engagement and could also potentially give you tips on how you can improve your account.

If you have unique, quality content and reach the people within your niche, you are likely to gain followers quickly, just by doing a little intel and outreach.

Is Instagram automation wrong?

Now, we’re certainly not here to judge – a lot of people have used automation when it comes to growing their accounts, but it has an impact on their profiles in the long run. By taking the easy way out, you end up potentially creating more work for yourself as your engagement might suffer, your account might be flagged, or prospective partners will suss you out, and choose not to work with you. It also takes away from the hard work others might put into their account growth, and no one wants their account labeled as ‘fake’.

Let’s recap on why Instagram automation tools might not be right for you:

  • It breaks some of Instagram’s key rules and can put your account at risk of being penalized by the platform.
  • It can load your account with fake followers, who will never, or will very rarely interact with your account – damaging your engagement rates.
  • Instagram can shadowban your account, if your automation tool is working too quickly, meaning you won’t be able to like or comment for an extended period of time.
  • The comments posted on your behalf, or the photos automation bots might like could be irrelevant to your account or too generic.
  • Even though you might pay for followers, you can easily lose them too, as they may not be interested in the content you generate, since they are being compensated to follow you.
  • People, namely Instagram, can tell. This puts you at risk of having your account flagged or taken down, and might mean you miss out on partnership opportunities or being suggested to your target audience.

Are some types of automation allowed on Instagram?💁‍♀️

Yes, some types of automation are Instagram-safe and don’t run the risk of breaking any rules or having your account penalized. An example of this is through Instagram scheduling – a feature coming to Flick in the near future. However, it’s important to remember that when you do schedule Instagram posts, you shouldn’t allow your tool to automatically publish to your feed (unless it is an official beta tester of Instagram’s scheduling API).

On Flick, we will let you upload your image, write out your caption, and then schedule your post so that it is sent to your phone. This will allow you to publish it manually with all the bells and whistles, including the hashtags you’ve picked out!

Want to learn more about how to boost your Instagram account using hashtags?
instagram content ideas