Follower scam on Instagram
Instagram is quickly becoming the go-to platform to sell, purchase, and market various products and services. As of January 2020, Instagram has almost 1 billion active users and it ranks just behind Facebook, making it the second most visited social networking platform on the web. Thus, to attract more customers, many businesses are opting for Instagram for their marketing purposes. But marketing on Instagram is easier said than done. Most of the businesses are struggling to gain followers, create engagement, and are generally having bad performance metrics. Thus, to overcome this, many businesses are falling into the trap of buying Instagram followers.
Instagram followers are sold at cheap prices and can be bought from a number of websites and third-party apps. Having a shortcut like this might seem hard to resist but here’s why buying Instagram followers is a bad idea for your business.
The Instagram Followers That You Will Buy Are Bot Accounts
There are currently 150 million bot accounts on Instagram and chances are that most of the Instagram followers that you would buy are bots as well. Bot accounts are created to automatically perform tasks such as liking, commenting, and following. They are run by users whose only goal is to get a follow back in return or they are sponsored by companies who sell followers. Buying bot accounts does not give you an organic following and most certainly does not increase your brand awareness. Unlike a real person, bot accounts do not understand the sensitivity of your content and are designed to comment based on what kind of hashtags you have used which can negatively affect your engagements.
You are likely to receive very little to no real engagement
One cannot automate meaningful engagements and since most of the Instagram followers that you will buy are fake accounts, your engagements will also be fake. Your followers won't share your content and your profile won't show up in other people’s Instagram feed. You are likely to receive feedback that doesn’t represent your content at all and will ultimately push your business off in the wrong direction. Also, the initial engagement that you receive will wear off after some time and for it to increase, you need to pay for engagements as well. Without engagements, a business with a huge number of followers will be perceived very poorly and can portray the business in a bad light in the eyes of the public. People will refrain from following you and the chance of followers converting into customers will decrease as well.
Performance metric will most likely get distorted
Since the purpose of buying followers is to grow your following and then convert these followers into prospective customers, having a huge percentage of fake followers in your Instagram account distort the performance metric and make it impossible to find out how many real followers your brand is actually attracting. Not knowing this can actually make it difficult to get insights into how your target customers are perceiving your product. Calculating ROI itself is a difficult task but having fake followers certainly makes it even more difficult to calculate. You would like to get a clear view of how each of your posts is actually performing among your audience but since most of the engagement you receive will be fake you cannot measure the performance of your posts. Thus, every information you get will be unreliable and your marketing data will mostly be inaccurate. With this information, you will not be able to make informed decisions about your future marketing practices and it will severely damage the marketing strategies of your brand.
It tarnishes your brand’s reputation and credibility
The morality and the ethics of a brand are sacrificed at the exact moment when they decide to purchase fake Instagram followers. If a business wants to have a positive influence over its followers, fake followers are not the route that they should opt for. Having a huge number of fake followers will put your brand’s credibility at risk and will severely damage your brand’s reputation. People follow businesses that have organically increased their following by providing them quality content in return. Businesses that partake in the ill-practice of buying followers will likely receive very little following since ‘trust’ which is a very important factor between a brand and its customer, will get destroyed. Also, businesses with fake followers are going to miss out on various brand deals and paid sponsorship, since no one wants to promote their product amongst people that are mostly fake.
It Violates Instagram’s Terms Of Service & Can Get Your Account Permanently Banned
Instagram wants to develop a culture on its platform, where genuine interactions take place, protecting real accounts and experiences. Buying fake followers, fake likes, fake comments will violate Instagram’s terms of services and they are constantly removing engagements that are being bought. They are monitoring their content heavily and are removing all the bot accounts that are being purchased or are commenting on anyone’s Instagram page. Instagram is also severely punishing those businesses that are increasing their following by frequently purchasing fake followers and engagements. They are banning their Instagram account altogether and hence curtailing their Instagram’s marketing aspirations. Thus, businesses should absolutely avoid growing their audiences artificially and should think of legal ways to increase their organic reach and thereby their following.