If you're someone who's addicted to Instagram – or just someone who uses it daily – then you've probably at least once or twice crept your friends' accounts and compared follower/following numbers.
If you haven't, congrats! You're not shallow like I am! But you have to admit, it's hard not to put such an importance on your follower/following number when it's the first thing you see on someone's profile. Even when a person's profile is private, you still see their follower and following count.
Whether Instagram admits it or not, this is kind of a quick way to weed out who you may want to follow: "Yeah, sure their posts are alright, but why are they following 21,000 people and only have 450 followers? That's kind of weird…"
Again, if you're not someone who cares about this, congratulations! But besides my own personal account (and ego), keeping track of the number of people you follow and the number of people who follow you back is something big companies and businesses have done since the beginning of time– er, Instagram.
Having a large following means that you have more clout and influence online; you have more people tagging your products to get a shout out, you have more people commenting on your posts as they're more likely to appear on the featured page, and you have essentially a chunk of FREE ad space that has the potential to attract millions upon millions of followers.
Take the makeup brand Colorpop, which, 3 years ago, was unheard of – until it it popped up on Instagram:
The brand runs its advertisements almost entirely through its posts on its Instagram account, and in less than 2 years has garnished a cult following and 4.7 million loyal shoppers — all thanks to the power of Instagram.
So having some bulk on Insta is clearly beneficial, but how do you get big numbers quickly? Make quality, well-thought out posts? Use clever hashtags and try to figure out Instagram's stupid algorithm? Engage, socialize, and interact with the followers you have already?
… Or, y'know, just buy some.
What are 'bought' followers?
When you buy Instagram followers, essentially you're paying for a bunch of accounts to follow you that exist for the sole purpose of being bought.
Some may look super spammy and have a bunch of numbers in the name with one or two posts with things like "BUY FOLLOWERS 2DAY!!!!!" while others look just like regular accounts, have a couple of photos, and even have followers and comments.
There are also things like click farms, which are popular in China, and they provide hundreds of profiles to people who are looking to buy some clout online.
Step 1: Picking a site
I decided to go with Buzzoid, as it was one of the first ones I clicked on and everything looked prim and proper on the site; however, in hindsight, I wish I would have found IG Reviews before I made my decision. I also read quite a few reviews on Buzzoid, all which were pretty mixed across the board.
At the end of the day, buying Instagram followers is always going to be a wee bit shady, as Instagram has made a habit of cleaning up the spam accounts that you pay to follow you, which is kind of like them saying it's not really allowed. But is it illegal like some people try to claim it is? Nope.
Step 2: Choosing your number of followers
One thing that's pretty consistent across all of these sites are follower "packages" for different price points. With Buzzoid, you can get:
- 100 followers for $2.97
- 500 followers for $6.99
- 2,500 followers for $29.99
- 5,000 followers for $39.99
I decided to go for the least expensive/smallest package with 100 followers for $2.97. Then when I was checking out, it gave me the option to add 50 more followers for a reduced price of $1.11, so I thought "YOLO" and just went for it.
Step 3: Wait for followers
After you enter in your account information and your email address and pay for your followers (I was comfortable doing this through my PayPal account), you get to sit back and watch them flood to your profile.
My 150 followers took around 20 minutes or so to follow me. I'll be honest, it was kind of exhilarating watching your number count get higher and higher, but when you go and actually look at the profiles that are following you, that feeling of euphoria gets a little bit sour.
Sure, you're getting a bunch of new followers and it looks like you're blowing up/getting popular online, but it's all superficial. However, if quantity means more to you than quality, you're going to have a big smile on your face every time you get that follower notification.
Around 20 minutes after I was done with bulking up my Instagram followers, I got a notification from my InsTrack app (an app used to monitor followers and engagement on Instagram) that someone had unfollowed me.
20 minutes later, I got another notification that someone had unfollowed me. I checked their profiles and realized they were the followers I had just paid for.
Another 20 minutes, another lost follower. This continued on for a while before I decided to hit up PayPal and see what they could do to remedy the situation: I paid for a product and didn't receive what I was promised, after all.
So… Is buying Instagram followers a scam?
It is, and it isn't.
If you're a business that's looking to grow its brand online and wants a jumpstart on its Insta to seem a bit more legit, then buying Instagram followers is absolutely the way to go.
If you're someone who uses Instagram as a personal account and want to look like you're popular and have a ton of loyal followers, then sure, that's totally cool too.
But the most important thing to remember when buying Instagram followers is do your research and pick the right site to use or you could be seriously wasting your money.
What do you think?
Do you think you'd ever buy Instagram followers? Why or why not? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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Cella writes for iMore on social and photography. She's a true crime enthusiast, bestselling horror author, lipstick collector, buzzkill, and Sicilian. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @hellorousseau