The business of buying Instagram followers is like a dirty patch of rug under the carpet of popularity. Almost every major Insta sensation is onto it, and it is almost imperative if you want to go make an earning from the medium. In a recent estimate made by a leading entertainment portal, it was revealed that you can buy around 1,000 followers for $90, and sites like Buzzoid charge you $3 for 100 followers, and that might seem like a terrific bargain. There are services which are solely dedicated to aide this arrangement. Bloggers, Vloggers and Insta stars have admitted to buying followers at the start of their career as a human vision board. Nobody is denying that it works – but how ethical is it? And most importantly, should you be doing it?
1) Buying Instagram Followers is Super Simple
If you want to earn through Instagram, you must know how competitive and how simple things are. Instagram is a hugely visual medium with a very simple rule – more engagement equals to more profits. You obviously get more visibility with more followers, and you can get paid for your posts. According to Huffington Post, some leading retail brands pay around $5 to $10 per thousand followers, while others pay in free merch. There are several other ways Instagram can earn you money, and buying followers is only the most common strategy – so why the scepticism around it?
2) Organic Followers Build Legitimacy
“There’s an immense pressure to get as many followers as possible, have your photos look perfect. I think I went back and forth until I looked at the original bloggers who’ve been doing this for years like Cupcakes and Cashmere or Atlantic Pacific, and you know they are honest and legit. There’s respect that comes with that, with letting your blog get big on its own, the organic way. If people would ever find out, you would lose all credibility and that is not worth it,” said LA fashion blogger Dale Janee.
3) All the Big Brands Are Buying Instagram Followers
Brands like Pepsi, Mercedez-Benz, and several other icons were charged with buying Instagram followers in the recent past, and while even two years ago, this was a big deal, now it is almost part of the deal. Like using filters or photoshop – yes, you shouldn’t do it, it says nothing about your cred, but it is only going to help you. “Instagram is such a huge part of how popular a fashion blogger is perceived to be,” said blogger forum GOMI founder Alice Wright. More followers spell out more engagement – but a paid following doesn’t always engage, and that is becoming a steady problem in the Insta world.
There are ways to build an organic following on other platforms like Twitter or Facebook, but Instagram seems to be plagued with the problem of “bought” likes.
4) Engagement is the Important Metric Nowadays, not Number of Followers
Interestingly, brands are now keeping tabs on engagement and comment frequency and not followers, which makes things a lot more complex. “I’ve seen both sides of this, as a blogger and as someone who owns a company. When I reach out to bloggers, of course I’m going to look at social media numbers. Yes, you’re sceptical about fakes, but that’s not on your mind,” said Dale Janee.
5) It’s Viewed as a Crutch in the Instagram Ecosystem
If you’re trying to build a brand around your Instagram following, it becomes immediately obvious when your followers are bought. Engagement rates are lower, the followers’ interests are scattered, and some are just plain old obvious bot accounts.
“It’s like plagiarizing, but in a different form. Brands pay bloggers and that money partnership is purely based on the likes and following performances. It’s completely unethical,” she added. Buying followers still remains an unethical practice, much like Photoshop is for a food blogger or a model. It’s all a filter – if you’re okay with going through you list of followers to find several bots, or can work around the fact that most of your success is not legit – go for it.