Should You Buy Real Instagram Followers? Breaking Down the Options

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It's a tough time to be an Instagram influencer. With Instagram's algorithm seemingly locking down your ability to grow follower count, it's no wonder people are turning to strange and often shady services and apps to buy followers. 

Today I'm going to break down the issue from a few angles, with no judgement. After all, everybody has the same goal in mind: Become an Instagram influencer.

To pay or not to pay for Instagram followers, that is the question...

Buy Instagram Followers

It's a catch 22. Brands know that influencers are buying followers to grow their appeal and engagement, but they also know that they can't live without social media influencers. If you're curious about the mind of a modern marketer, check out our confessions series covering anonymous admissions from brands about working with social media influencers.

We all know why people buy Instagram followers. They want better Instagram stats on paper and land bigger contracts from brands. And as a previous analysis PodSquad conducted shows, it pays to have more Instagram followers.

So we know it's lucrative to be an influencer on the 'gram. But what we don't know is the long term repercussions of buying those Instagram followers in the first place. Maybe it doesn't matter to you because you're looking to get off the ground. More established influencers might question what's happening in the world of social media and how it will impact them.

We surveyed the PodSquad team and asked them what they think about buying Instagram followers. Here's the key points summarized:

You should never buy Instagram followers from shady services or apps.

If an app promises to provide you with followers right away, it's probably not a great idea. These apps are designed to cheaply and quickly provide bot-generated followers to the masses. While it's fine in the short term, Instagram is catching on and quickly banning these fake accounts.

In addition, Instagram is aggressively pursing apps that violate its terms of use, and getting them shut down in the App store. So you don't even know if your purchase will pay off or if the shady business will be... well... out of business.

So it's not really the best strategy to go out and buy cheap, bot type followers. It's probably not going to hurt your account if you avoid doing it too much, but for long term growth and getting brands truly interested you need something more. That's why PodSquad was developed, to help get around restrictive algorithms and get your content seen.

Granted, I'm a little biased because I work at PodSquad. So I want to explore and share the rationale behind our business model, and why tapping into Pods for Instagram follower growth and link building and earning guaranteed press mentions makes a ton of sense.

Instagram pods aren't going away any time soon. Here's why.

Instagram pods are like-minded groups of Instagrammers that have joined forces to promote each others' messages. At PodSquad, we work with pods that range from 100 members to over 100,000. These pods are organized using a combination of software and social networks like WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Groups.

Pods are essential to the way Instagram works. When posts are liked, shared, and commented on by other members in similar niches, it's a signal to Instagram that the post - and the account that made it - are important. Get enough of this going and you'll be growing your following in no time.

The secret here is tapping the power of pods plays into the way Instagram works, and it won't be changing any time soon. Without social interaction there can be no social network, so if you want to get more Instagram followers all you really have to do is make sure you are getting the follows, likes, and comments that you need. We offer a number of ways to do this, but you can start by tapping into a smaller network to achieve at least 1,000 new followers.

At PodSquad, we approach these groups every day and invite them to become a part of our network. In exchange, the groups get access to fresh opportunities with brands and influencers. Once in our network, we are able to submit Instagram profiles and posts for follows, likes, and comments. Some of these pods were even created by our team members!

There are many ways to get more Instagram followers, but almost none of them happen over night.

What other approaches are out there to getting more Instagram followers? We've already covered paying for Instagram followers and using private Instagram pods. But here are a few more you may not have thought about:

Paying an Instagram influencer to mention your account

Just like a brand that has clothing or jewelry to offer an Instagram influencer, you can offer to pay for one of your posts to be mentioned. If you create some content that appeals to an influencer's following, there's a good chance more of her followers will try you out, too.

People are always looking for fresh Instagram inspiration, so make sure before you engage in this tactic that you have a great plan for the post you are going to promote and the next few posts to keep your new followers around. A warning: This isn't a cheap tactic. Brands have been paying influencers a ton of money in recent years, and it's only getting more expensive.

You can try offering in kind trade if you have skills like photography or videography to bring to the table. Graphic and web design are also two opportunities to collaborate with influencers on a less cash-intensive basis.

Boosting your best performing Instagram posts with paid media

We've all seen sponsored content appear in our Instagram feed. This is content brands pay to promote to a specific target in hopes you'll buy. The challenge here is that if you have nothing to sell, it may be expensive to acquire new followers. Typically users expect to see products promoted, not people.

But, if you have a particularly interesting piece of content that you know people will want to see, boosting your own posts can get the likes and comments you need to start building a following. Keep in mind, the same rules as above apply. If you boost one post, be sure to follow up with future content that lives up to your brand, or risk followers dropping off quickly.

Hosting local events for Instagrammers in your niche

Most people imagine that online is the best way to earn more Instagram followers. While that's probably true overall, don't forget you can also take things offline too. If you love fashion for example, host a fashion meetup or event in your local area. Invite other Instagrammers you find through search to join.

Focus your event around a specific topic or event, such as a runway viewing party during NYFW or a presentation from a local designer. Get things started out and work the room, making sure you create connections along the way. It's not the easiest thing to do, but it can be effective in kicking off a bigger brand ambassador or influencer career. 

Attending conferences and events in your niche and networking

Conferences and events are happening all the time. In some cases, there may not be anything in your local area, but somewhere in the world Instagrammers are gathering and getting to know one another.

Search for conferences and events, and then plan to attend if you can afford the trip. Make a pre-conference plan so that you know what your goals are, who you want to meet, and what you want to tell them to get them to follow you. Try live 'gramming from the event to help your followers learn more about what you are trying to do. 

Guerrilla marketing tactics in your local area

While we don't advocate any type of illegal activity such as graffiti or illegal postering, some Instagrammers have come up with ingenious ways to get their brand out there.

Sidewalk chalk can be a fun, safe, and legal way to promote your brand. With some creative ingenuity you can get people to follow a literal path to your account, promote an event you are hosting, or just get your name out there.

Search around the web for examples of guerrilla marketing for Instagram, and work out a plan that makes sense for your area. Check your local city ordinances to avoid doing anything that's against the law. After all, it's going to be your Instagram account out there!


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