Whether you’re setting up a personal profile or using Instagram for your business, seeing zero followers can be a major downer.
I mean, seeing a couple thousand followers instantly on your profile looks great, right? People will be impressed. You’ll get loads of engagement. Just imagine the comments and saves! Nope. Sorry. It just won’t happen that way.
For the price of your favourite coffee, you can purchase say, 1,000 followers. Easy, isn’t it? If it’s that cheap and straight forward, why isn’t everyone doing it?
I’m going to tell you why.
Fake followers kill your brand
There, I said it. While buying Instagram followers may feel like you’re skipping a few steps in your social media strategy, you’re more than likely taking two steps backwards.
When you buy followers, you’re buying a bunch of bots. None of these accounts are interested in your brand. They have no connection or loyalty to you whatsoever. So why have them there?
When real followers come along – which they quickly will – they’ll spot the fakes a mile away. I mean, two posts and 4,000 followers. Something doesn’t sit right. The only way you can gain followers quickly is hard work.
Growing your Instagram followers.
Engage in hashtags.
Once you’ve done some hashtag research, go visit popular and recent posts within those hashtags. Leave thoughtful and genuine comments, like posts and share if relevant.
Follow other accounts.
While having your family members as followers is great, they aren’t going to result in sales. Go follow accounts that relate to your niche and pay attention to your target audience.
Post, post post.
You can’t expect to post once a month and gain traction from your Instagram. Post valuable content consistently every day, and keep an eye on the best time to post for your audience.
Engage with your fans.
Engage with those that follow you. Like their content, share it (if relevant) and don’t be afraid to speak to people in direct messages.
Master your hashtags.
Use quality hashtags that’ll allow your content to reach further. Don’t be tempted into using #love, you need to use a mixture of small, medium and large hashtags to have maximum impact.
You’ve spent the time building your brand, so why not take the time in building your social media following too? I highly recommend you spend some time building your following organically, promoting your new Instagram account via other platforms too. When you know your followers are the real deal, you can get to grips with your engagement rate far more easily.
Fake followers kill your engagement rate
If you’re paying any attention to your metrics at all, you’ll quickly notice that engagement means everything. When you climb into bed with fake Instagram followers, this metric will quickly head south.
Instagram accounts with less than 1,000 followers tend to have an average 8% engagement rate. If you’re unsure where your account falls, check out Ninjalitics – a great tool for spying on your competition too.
Have you ever noticed than when you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, you tend to see the same faces? That’s because although you may have 300 friends, you don’t engage with every single one of them daily. So, naturally, Facebook shows the accounts of those whose posts you like/comment on the most.
Instagram works in a very similar way. When you first start out and follow just a few accounts, your feed has few profiles to look for content from. When your ‘following’ number grows, you’ll begin to see a mixture of accounts you engage with more.
When you become enticed by fake Instagram followers, your engagement will take a huge hit. After all, they’re all bots. They aren’t going to like your content, share it, or comment.
Plus, if they did, their comment would most likely make no sense.
But wait, I heard you can buy active accounts?
Some companies do offer the option of purchasing accounts that have active users. The general premise is that these individuals allow their accounts to follow you in the idea that it will in turn grow their followship. Whilst they do produce their own content and are run by real people, it can still do more bad than good.
The real issue here is that they are generally not interested in your business and therefore are still unlikely to interact. At first, these accounts will show some engagement, but after a while, they will go dormant and become a huge drain on your account’s performance metrics.
Why does their engagement with your content really matter?
Engagement on your page is the most important part of developing a business’ Instagram account. While it accounts for all of your likes, comments, shares and views, it has a big input into how Instagram and other platforms run their sights.
If you have 10,000 followers and only 50 likes, the analysis taken from your performance metrics will see that only 0.5% of your followership have decided that your posts are somewhat interesting. This will actively keep your business off Explore and newsfeeds and hide most of your content.
What about strategic following services?
Some services do offer to follow other accounts on your behalf in return for a fee, whilst these accounts are still active and produce real content, the investment is risky at best.
In an ideal world, these accounts with similar interests would follow you back and join your network. Sadly, this is not the case. A big risk firstly lies in the probability of these accounts following you back in the first place, and even if they do, their loyalty is generally short-lived. Without having a genuine interest in what you do, they may remain pretty silent or most likely, unfollow.
Again this is going to impact your engagement and performance metrics.
Can it affect my real following?
Buying followers and having a clear imbalance in engagement can have a negative impact on real followers and customers who have interest in your services. It can easily take its toll on your credibility and with all things marketing, reputation matters.
Take the example we mentioned above. If your account has 10,000 followers, your first thought may be “Woah! This account is clearly popular.” However, once you post your latest masterpiece, this giant fan club is now a ghost town. Others may start to consider if your content is really worth it. No one else seems to like it, right? Or if they are social media savvy and sus-out the trick, it can seem like there is a lack of confidence in your brand!
Think of it this way. What if you were following an account with a product that you love – They have great posts and entertaining stories and seeing them pop up with a new idea or update was exciting! But then you find out that most of the people with whom you shared this community with weren’t actually real? You’re gonna be disappointed.
It is important that your followers (and potential customers) get the most out of your account. Growing an organic following is done by analysing your own content to see what works well, and why.
It’s about finding your target market, who interacts the most, and even at what time. Having a bunch of non-active robots simply makes this more difficult for yourself.
By taking time and investing in resources that can help you build up a genuine Instagram following, you will have followers who really feel like they have stumbled across a gold-mine. Plus, it’s called ‘Social’ for a reason, if one person enjoys the atmosphere of your account, comments and shares come rolling in, more people become interested and your content will be hitting the explore page in no time.
So, how can you increase your Instagram following?
Instagram has a simple way to get the right people to the top. By rewarding posts that have interaction beyond your follower count, they can clearly determine that it has mutual interest for all.
The first step to get to this point is not to rush it. Implementing good marketing practices and building authenticity on your page are the key to gaining business through social media. Good things come to those who wait, you know the drill.
But in the meantime, if you’re feeling stuck for content ideas, need design help or total Instagram management, get in touch. We’d love to chat it over (over coffee, of course).