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What Happens When You Buy Instagram Followers

Why do people buy Instagram followers? Is it worth it? What are the risks? We ran an experiment to find out.

Michelle Cyca April 14, 2022
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The Instagram fake follower industry is built on a pretty tempting proposition: spend a little money, and get a lot of followers. Overnight, you can go from a few hundred followers to 10,000 or more. With that boost, profits and partnerships are sure to follow?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but no. Even though buying Instagram followers is cheap and easy, the hidden costs can be steep. You can ruin your reputation, alienate your real followers, and even lose your account if Instagram notices your deception. If you’re trying to become Instagram famous or build your business, buying followers won’t help you do it.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the fake follower industry and show you what happens when you buy Instagram followers. Instead of scamming your way to success, we’ll also show you how to get more Instagram followers using tried and true tactics.

Or you can watch the video of our most recent experiment where we tried to buy the most expensive followers we could:

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a fitness influencer used to grow from 0 to 600,000+ followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

How to buy Instagram followers

First things first: let’s take a step-by-step look at how to buy Instagram followers. After that, we’ll tell you why you should save your money and your dignity.

1. Choose your provider

There are a lot of companies selling fake Instagram followers, so you have plenty of choices here. Google “buy Instagram followers” and you’ll discover a brave new world of businesses with very questionable ethics.

These businesses operate a little differently than they did a few years ago. Back in 2018, Instagram shut down its public API so that third-party apps could no longer post.

This had huge impacts for all kinds of businesses, including the ones selling Instagram followers and likes. A ton of bot accounts disappeared overnight, and third-party services that liked and followed accounts stopped working. When the fake follower industry recovered, a few things had changed: services stopped requiring your login credentials, and started emphasizing that all followers were “real” and “authentic,” not bots.

We’ve rounded up a selection of some of the more well-known retailers below, but we can’t guarantee that any of them should be trusted with your credit card information or your account details. You’re on your own here!

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2. Pick your plan

As you explore the fake follower frontier, you’ll notice that there’s more than one option available to you. Some companies offer a choice between your regular and “premium” followers, and others offer “managed growth.” All of these plans rely on the use of click farms, which exploit poorly-paid laborers who are often working in sweatshop-like conditions. That’s just one more reason to avoid them.


The most basic options are also the most obvious fakes: they don’t have profile photos or posts on their feed, but they exist — for now, anyway. They’re the cheapest tier, though they’ll be described with the kind of superlatives you see at the farmer’s market: high-quality, all-natural, free-range… actually, that last one might just be for eggs. Since these fakes are so obvious, they tend to get deleted by Instagram pretty quickly. While they last, they won’t like or comment on any of your posts.

Premium or active followers

Next, you have “premium” or “active” followers. These accounts tend to look slightly more legitimate, with profile photos and posts on their feed. Companies will promise that they are “100% real people!!” but we would take that with a Mt. Everest-sized grain of salt. And like the basic followers, they’re not going to engage with your content in any way.

Managed growth

Lastly, we have “managed growth.” This is the most expensive fake follower service, which may be offered as a one-time fee or an ongoing monthly subscription. Managed growth services offer to essentially operate your engagement strategy, by reaching out to other Instagram accounts to grow your following.

Managed growth services require you to hand over your account details (extra sketchy!) and provide detailed information to a “growth agent” around the audiences and hashtags you want to target. The agent (or their automated software) will then like, follow and comment on your behalf. In theory, this will result in better followers. In practice, it’s just a more expensive way to clutter up your feed and decrease your overall engagement rate.

3. Choose your number of followers

Still interested? Uh, okay! Next, you can choose the number of followers you want to buy.

This is going to depend on your budget, and the plan you choose. The basic fake followers are pretty cheap, so you might be tempted to buy 5,000 or 10,000 at once. Why not? Well, because a huge overnight spike in followers is likely to raise some red flags with Instagram.

For this reason, most companies offer “instant or gradual” delivery options. A more gradual delivery is less suspicious, in theory. But the ratio of fake-to-real followers matters, so think twice before buying a huge number.

4. Throw in some likes or views

Many of these companies pride themselves on being one-stop shops for all kinds of sham interactions. As a result, you can also purchase likes on your posts or views on your Instagram Stories.

In theory, this adds credibility by balancing out the fake followers with fake engagement. In practice, it’s unlikely to fool anyone.

5. Take the plunge

You’ve browsed the options and decided, against your better judgment, to proceed to checkout. Time to hand over your Instagram handle, email address, and credit card information.

Some companies might prompt you to create an account, or they might skip right to the good stuff: payment info. If you’re squeamish about providing your credit card details, you might be able to pay with PayPal or cryptocurrency.

An important note: unless you’re opting for managed growth, you will not be asked to hand over your Instagram password.

6. Bide your time

Most companies promise that you’ll see new followers within 24-72 hours, once the charge on your credit card clears.

The more expensive growth services take longer, because they’re promising to grow your account gradually through targeted engagement or automation. What does that mean for you? That it might take longer to realize that you’ve wasted your money.

Where to buy Instagram followers

There are a lot of companies selling Instagram followers. And while you could simply stare into the abyss yourself and see what stares back, we’ve curated a few of the options for you.

As in any illicit industry, retailers are prone to changing their names and URLs to try and cover up bad reviews or customer complaints. You’ll also notice that every company’s website looks pretty similar in terms of layout, language and pricing tiers. It makes it hard to tell the difference between them, honestly. But we tried:

Buzzoid: Buzzoid promises the “fastest delivery,” guaranteeing new followers within hours of payment. They also have an “automatic likes” subscription service: for a monthly fee, you can get likes and video views from “real users” on every new post automatically. Getting hundreds of instant likes on a post sounds like a great way to alert Instagram to your shady activities.

Twicsy: Like many of its competitors, Twicsy promises “Real Users, Real Accounts, Quick Delivery!” Twicsy doesn’t offer managed growth, just a choice between “real” and “premium” followers. Though they prominently feature their Trustpilot ratings, there are many reviews from users complaining about overcharging, zero customer support, poor results, and getting banned from Instagram. One review is a modern-day retelling of the fable of King Midas, if instead of a golden touch you were burdened with too many fake follower:

Twicsy review scam

Famoid. We used Famoid for our last fake follower experiment (watch our video below for a more detailed review). But in summary, Famoid promises “all real & active” followers, though in our experience they were pretty obvious fakes.

Kicksta: This tool is a little different. They promise 100% all-natural organic growth through the magic of artificial intelligence. You provide Kicksta with a list of accounts who have followers you would want (such as competitors or influencers), and they will like posts by those followers. The idea is that after receiving a notification that you liked their post, those users are more likely to follow you.

While this sounds better than summoning an undead army of bots, it’s still not ideal. For one thing, you still have to do quite a bit of work to guide Kicksta’s strategy, which is time you could use to… get more followers! For another, you’re trusting your account and its activities to a third party, which is risky: if their tactics annoy the users you’re hoping to impress, it can work against you.

Learn more about why automation is one of the black hat social media techniques we think you should avoid.

GetInsta: One thing I enjoy about GetInsta is that, like The Gap, they’re always running a sale.

GetInsta Buy Instagram Followers homepage

Their other tactic is offering a choice between “instant followers”, who appear all at once, and “daily followers.” The latter involve signing up for a subscription plan, with the promise of a certain number of followers daily. It’s nice to see creativity in the fake follower business.

GetInsta also has an Instagram caption generator, which promises to “make your Instagram go viral.” I was pleasantly surprised by the moody caption it generated for me, though I doubt it’s likely to propel me to social media fame:

GetInsta Instagram Captions Generator

Mr. Insta: Of all the fake follower sites we reviewed, this one had the largest menu of offerings. Itw as the Cheesecake Factory of shady services. It’s also much more expensive than its competitors. In exchange for the big bucks, Mr. Insta promises to “provide the highest and most realistic-looking followers.” This was also the only service that gives customers the option to pay using Dollar General or CVS gift cards.

Social Boost: This service offers only growth management, with a heftier price tag than the competitors and the Etsy-worthy adjectives to match (“handmade growth!”). Unlike most of the other sites, Social Boost doesn’t promise any specific number of followers. Instead, they promise to target and engage with Instagram users to grow your account over time.

We were curious if buying the most expensive followers available would yield better results, so we tried it. You can read about our underwhelming experience below!

QuickFix is an interactive installation by Belgian artist Dries Depoorter, which sells Instagram followers and likes for a few Euros. Pros: your purchase is logged by the installation, which allows you to become part of the art! Cons: There are only two QuickFix machines in existence, so you can only access this service if you happen to be in the right European gallery.

How much does it cost to buy Instagram followers?

This varies, depending on the service. Most offer a volume discount, so that getting 10,000 followers looks like a better deal than buying a few hundred.

Overall, buying Instagram followers is cheap when you purchase instant follows. Most of the services we reviewed charge around $15 USD for 1,000 followers. Some were more expensive, in the $25-40 USD range.

Growth management services, which use automation or manual engagement to generate followers, will cost more. These services can range from $50-250 USD per month.

Not included in those costs is the long-term damage to your professional reputation and account. More on that below!

Does buying Instagram followers work?

Short answer: no, absolutely not.

Longer answer: it’s true that these services will boost your account with Instagram followers of questionable quality. But like the increase to your height when you convert from Imperial to Metric, it’s an illusion. Even the number of real followers that you have is a vanity metric, one that doesn’t represent a meaningful return on your investment. But if those genuine followers actually enjoy your content, then they’re likely to turn into customers. As our experiments reveal, even the most “high quality” fake followers tend to be random accounts that have nothing to do with your business or niche. They’ll never engage with your posts, become real customers, or spread positive word of mouth about your company.

So, if your only goal is to have a higher number of followers, then these services will help you accomplish that. At least temporarily, until Instagram notices the spammy activity on your account and locks it down.

But if you want to build a successful business, connect with customers, and generate a return on investment from your social media strategy, then there are better ways to spend your time and money.

You don’t need to take our word for it! We bought followers from Social Boost to find out what would happen (watch our video in the intro to see results).

What happens when you buy expensive Instagram followers?

We’ve run a few tests to find out what happens when you buy Instagram followers. In 2021, we purchased cheap instant followers from Famoid. This year, we paid more for a premium growth management service in the name of science. There were a few differences:

The premium service was more work for us

Because the goal of these services is to get “organic” engagement through liking and following other accounts on your behalf, you need to do your homework for them. Our growth agent required us to provide details on influencers, demographics, and hashtags that would help them identify who we wanted to target.

You might wonder: if you’re coming up with this information, couldn’t you use it to like and follow relevant accounts yourself? Why yes, you can! And you should — because you’ll do a better job of it than a click farm worker.

The growth agent also advised us to post Instagram Stories daily, and two or three posts in the feed each week. This is actually good advice! But it’s a reminder that you can’t simply sit back and watch the followers roll in. You still need to put in the work.

We got security alerts from Instagram

These premium fake follower services require your account credentials, so they can log in on your behalf. Because click farms are based all over the world, agents use a VPN to make it appear as though they’re logging in from your regular location.

But, like every other aspect of this experience, they over-promised and under-delivered. We got security alerts from Instagram when they noticed logins and account activity in strange locations, which is a reminder that you’re never going to fool Instagram. They’re bound to notice if something sketchy is going on with your account.

We got security alerts from our bank, too

While trying to pay for our growth service, our credit card was declined and our bank called us repeatedly because they were concerned about fraud. We convinced them to unlock our card, and the first payment went through.

Then… we waited. And despite the fact that a payment showed up on our credit card, our growth service told us that it hadn’t come through. So we paid again, against the advice of our bank, who warned us that we were definitely being scammed. (Don’t try this at home!!)

Because the service wouldn’t start working on our behalf until the payments cleared, we were out $500 USD before they even got started. Finally, the money went through.

The results were not great

Nineteen days after trying to make our first payment, we finally start seeing the promised followers! Drumroll please…

After 19 days, we had 37 new followers. That’s about two followers per day, the kind of growth you could see yourself with just a little bit of effort and no alarming international transactions.

By the time we pulled the plug on this experiment, we’d gotten a few more followers. By week four, we had 335 followers. That’s about $1.50 USD per follower. For that price, you would expect them to be pretty great! But they were inactive, extremely fake-looking, and totally unrelated to our account.

We received some weird DMs

As a self-help book might say, the energy you put out into the world tends to come back to you. And when you engage in shady practices, you attract shady people. Our DMs during this experiment were pretty colorful, including two offers of psychic readings and one invitation to join the Illuminati.

It’s just another reminder that buying fake followers comes with unintended consequences. Bizarre DMs are harmless fun, unless they’re clogging up your inbox and making it hard to find and connect with real followers.

4 reasons NOT to buy Instagram followers

Instagram can tell.

As with the great bot crackdown of 2018, Instagram is always working to keep the platform secure and authentic. That means they regularly purge fake accounts, and crack down on users who purchase them. If they notice suspicious account activity, they could suspend your account or even delete it permanently.

Brands will avoid working with you.

Fake followers are no secret, and legitimate brands want to ensure they’re not partnering with companies or influencers who use them. Free tools like HypeAuditor make it easy to find out who is artificially inflating their follower count.

If you’re caught buying fake followers, you’ll ruin your credibility and damage your reputation. Those negative impacts will last a lot longer than your fake followers’ accounts.

Real users won’t follow you.

Even regular Instagram users will notice if your account is mostly followed by fake-looking accounts. Have you ever looked at an Instagram post where the only comments are from obvious spam accounts? It ruins the vibe.

Influencers and companies often buy followers to boost their credibility, thinking that users are more likely to follow an account with 20,000 followers than 200. But you’re not fooling anyone, and the users you are hoping to attract will run the other way.

You’ll mess up your analytics.

If you have a lot of purchased followers, your follower count might be high — but your engagement is going to be really low, because those fake followers don’t interact with your content.

This is off-putting to brands and partners, who care more about high engagement rates than high follower counts. A good engagement rate is typically between 1% and 5% per post. The more fake followers you have, the more those engagement rates are diluted.

This will also make it harder for you to figure out what’s working and improve your social media strategy. If all your followers are genuine, it’s easy to see what content they’re responding to by seeing what posts and Stories get more engagement.

What to do instead of buying Instagram followers

If you want to increase your Instagram following, there are a lot of legitimate ways to do so! It won’t happen overnight, but the followers you earn count for a lot more than the ones you buy.

Make great content

There’s no shortcut here, unfortunately! Audiences are discerning, as are brands. That means you need to post engaging videos and high-quality photos, accompanied by well-written captions.

You also want to ensure your content is discoverable. Tagging relevant accounts and using hashtags will boost your visibility. Getting on the Explore page is the golden ticket, which is more likely to happen if you post regularly and have an active following. Instagram prioritizes posts that are performing well, so check out our guide for getting more likes on your Instagram content.

Promote your Instagram account

You should make it easy for people to find you on Instagram! If possible, ensure your username is consistent across all social media platforms. That way, someone who follows you on TikTok will know how to find you on Instagram too.

You can also cross-post your best Instagram content to your other social media platforms, to encourage your audiences to follow you to Instagram.

Think beyond social media, too. Your Instagram account should be included on your website, in your email signature, on your business cards, and on any other promotional materials for your business.

Run a contest

If you’re seeking a quick fix, Instagram contests can boost your following fast. Getting users to follow your account, tag friends, and share your content to their own accounts in order to participate will attract new followers and amplify your reach.

Focus on relationships

Followers don’t just want you to talk at them— they want you to talk to them. Responding to comments, hosting Q&As on your Stories, and sharing user-generated content on your feed are just a few ways to show your followers that you’re listening, too.

Want more suggestions for starting conversations and building relationships? We’ve got a content idea cheat sheet with 29 creative ideas.

Buy ads, not followers

If you want to amplify your reach, advertising on Instagram is a legitimate (and effective) way to do it. Paid advertising on Instagram reaches up to 1.48 billion people, which means you’ll definitely pick up some new followers.

Stay on trend

To stay on top of Instagram, you have to change with the times. Users’ tastes and preferences are constantly evolving, which means your content needs to evolve too. Here’s what users want to see in 2022.

Looking for more ways to boost your following without bots? We have 35 tips for getting more Instagram followers right here.

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By Michelle Cyca

Michelle Cyca is a writer, editor, and digital content strategist. Offline, she likes hefty magazines, public libraries, all-day breakfasts, and bike rides.

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