I don’t know about you, but I love getting new followers on social media. There’s something thrilling about knowing that someone new found you. It’s easy to get addicted to that feeling of growth, forward momentum, and validation. Because it is validating. When we get more followers on social media, we’re receiving a subtle message that we’re doing the right thing, moving in the right direction, and people like what we’re doing. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with being proud of your social media platform, it’s important to remember that our value as individuals isn’t tied to our follower count.
We live in a world where “more” is often translated to “better”. More money, more likes, more followers. It can leave us searching for new and improved ways to get more faster. This is why buying followers on social media exists. It’s a quick way for people to get instant validation, but what may start as a legitimate attempt to grow your brand can actually cause more harm in the long-term.
So, why do people buy followers in the first place?
Believe it or not, buying followers isn’t always about the vanity metric. Yes, it can feel great to see that you’ve hit 10k, 50k, or more on social media. However, there’s actually a strategic value behind purchasing followers. Sometimes that involves access to things that only come when you have a higher number of followers (like getting the swipe up feature on Instagram). Other times, it’s simply about the social proof of having more followers.
Let’s compare two similar accounts. Imagine they post about the same topic with nearly identical content, both with high quality images, captions, and hashtags. They offer the same services, value, and more. Now, imagine that one account has 500 followers and the other has 50,000. Which would you be more likely to follow? Which would you be more likely to trust?
The downside of this natural instinct is that it can sway us in cases where the bigger account actually provides less value. We start to give legitimacy to people who simply have larger platforms, versus focusing on quality over quantity.
With this in mind, it can be tempting to buy followers. However, while it might seem that the benefits outweigh the negatives, there are few important things to keep in mind before you consider trying a service that gets you more followers on social media.
1. You can’t control who follows you.
While many services might claim to give you “genuine” high-quality followers, there’s actually no guarantee that you won’t be followed by a bunch of spam and fake accounts. Even if you end up gaining real followers, there’s also no way to control what kind of people are following you. This means that the people who end up following you aren’t likely to purchase your products, engage with your brand, or care about you and your content…at all.
If you’re an author, for example, even if you gain ten thousand real followers, there’s no way to guarantee that those people are interested in books, reading, or your genre. And, if they’re not, what’s the point? Your follower count simply becomes a vanity metric versus something that shows how many people are actually interested in your work.
2. It tanks your engagement rate.
Engagement is already down on most social media platforms. Organic reach (aka, unpaid) is super low on Facebook and Instagram, and buying followers can actually make that worse. When you flood your following with people — or fake accounts — that aren’t actually interested in your content, this means they’re not very likely to engage with what you’re posting.
Why does this matter? Because engagement creates engagement. The more people you have commenting, sharing, and liking your posts on social media, the more people those platforms will show your posts to over time. This means that — despite having more followers — Instagram could end up showing your posts to *less* people if your engagement rate is low. When that happens? Your engagement rate will inevitably tank even further.
3. People can (usually) tell if you’ve purchased followers.
It’s actually pretty easy to tell if someone has purchased followers on social media. If you scroll through someone’s followers list, you might see fake accounts, inappropriate accounts, and empty accounts that don’t actually have any content. Clicking through, it becomes evident very quickly that they bought followers.
Another quick method? Check out the number of likes and comments an account has versus their number of followers. When the numbers are dramatically different, it can be a sign that they’ve probably purchased followers.
Plus, buying followers tends to cause your numbers to fluctuate frequently. A quick glance at an account with fake followers might show that their numbers have spiked suddenly. If someone magically gained thousands of followers overnight, it’s likely that they bought their followers. Now that platforms like Instagram are cracking down on fake followers, you’ll also start to see those numbers drop quickly. I’ve seen accounts gain ten thousand followers in a single day, only to gradually lose three or four thousand over the next few weeks. Translation? They probably bought their followers.
4. It might hurt future opportunities.
Because it’s relatively obvious who has bought followers, this can cause major damage to your reputation online. Not only can genuine followers tell that you’re buying fake followers, but brands and potential partners can tell as well.
Brands are far less likely to work with you if you’ve purchased followers, and they can definitely tell. They want to work with people who have real, engaged followings. This means, you might actually lose potential business opportunities (aka money) when you buy followers.
5. It’s a waste of money.
Not only does buying followers hurt your brand, it can also hurt your bank account. What might seem like a sound investment ends up going south when those followers gradually disappear over time thanks to Instagram purges. Plus, when brands refuse to partner with you — that means you’re losing potential revenue.
As your account dwindles through these purges, it can lead to feeling like you need to buy followers again. Which, let’s be honest, can turn into an endless cycle that can destroy your brand in the long term.
With platforms like Instagram cracking down on this by identifying accounts that are using third-party services to boost their following and deleting their fake and inauthentic followers, it’s clear that the best way to get new followers on social media is the hard way.