Why Buying Fake Instagram ‘Likes’ And Followers Is A Bad Idea For Bloggers

mobile taking picture

Not long ago, I investigated how some brands were using fake followers on Twitter to “boost” their social media clout (or at least to untrained eye, seem like it). But what about the other forms of social media? And what about bloggers also using these techniques?

While it's no secret that these “fake following” tactics are easily available (you can buy hundreds of inactive, active, and “real” active Instagram followers all for under $100, or 1,000 Instagram ‘likes' for $25 ), it's still been a relatively hush-hush topic among bloggers.

It may seem enticing to simply buy a following rather than letting it organically grow over time, the reality is, it may actually hurt your social media in the long run.

The “Formula” For Getting On The Popular Page:

Instagram's Popular page is an element of it's “discovery” aspect — it's reserved for photos that have had a significant amount of recognition from the community, usually deciphered by the number of ‘likes' the photo has received by fellow users.

The formula for getting on the Popular page has been a much discussed one, but Instagram has been quiet about what exactly you need to get there. The general consensus, however, is an algorithm that has something to do with the number of ‘likes' you get within a certain amount of time (it's been estimated between 10 and 20 minutes), divided by the amount of followers you have. Therefore, some people may only need 50 ‘likes' to be on the Popular page, and others may need thousands.

Being on the Popular page is beneficial for one purpose: getting more organic followers from those browsing the Popular page.

How Is The Popular Page System Cheated?

One way is by buying more ‘likes' in a mass amount right after uploading a photo, but not buying more followers. That way photo ends up on the Popular page, which in turn usually means gaining organic followers due to the free advertisement.

While you may be able to boast that your photo made it to the Popular page, this system isn't sustainable unless you are buy more “likes” every time you upload.

If a brand were to take a deeper look into your social media reach, this might be what they would see:

instagram followers comments

With the two accounts above, both of which have been on the Popular page and belong to fashion bloggers, it seems as though both have been using spamming to get a boost in their accounts.

The second example shows how another fashion blogger's account is completely littered with spam comments.

If a brand was educated in the issue of manipulating a fake Instagram reach, they would probably find these clues a bit curious.

So, Why Is Buying Followers And ‘Likes' A Bad Idea?

1. According to a recent article on ReadWrite, “One of Instagram's most frequently-cited shortcomings also turns out to be helpful in curtailing spam. The service's lack of a Web app, combined with the fact that links left in comment threads don't work, mean that flooding Instagram with URLs – the heart of every spammy SEO campaign in history – is useless.”

2. Besides the fact that a smart brand might dig a little deeper into your account and find some discrepancies, you may not be able to deliver what you promise to them if your following is fake. Say, for example, a brand wants you to get 50 people to sign up for a contest you advertise on your Instagram. If you claim you have 20,000 followers, this seems very doable. But if you're following is mostly fake, you may not have people sign up, and therefore disappoint the brand.

3. It's not exactly cheap to buy all these followers, you may even end up losing money, especially since you it's likely have to repeatedly buy more over and over.

4. Original organic followers might take notice to your influx of spammers, and may even become disgruntled by your “unethical” practices.

5. Instagram, so far, has been slightly better at self-policing spammers (compared to other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook). However it seems like lately many more spam accounts are popping up even on small, organically created accounts. “We have a team that works really hard to identify spam through community flags, and we stop it as soon as it starts,” Instagram's Community Evangelist Jessica Zollman said in a thread on Quora — which means Instagram is paying attention. Furthermore, new features on recent updated versions of the app, such as flagging individual comments as spam, help the community as a whole fight spam. It wouldn't be surprising if some day there will be something similar to the “Fake Follower Check” that already exists for Twitter.

Furthermore, all of the above also applies to brands. Before signing on to do a project (especially if the project isn't paid) it may be to your benefit to do a once over of their social media growth to see who you are really reaching.


If you do get spam comments, but are building an authentic following, you may want to delete the spam so it doesn't look like there's any funny business going on. And if you're looking for tips to grow your Instagram organically, see all of our Instagram-related posts.

Have you noticed bloggers or brands using ‘fake likes' or ‘fake followers' to boost their accounts? How do you feel about it?

Related Posts

About The Author

Ana is a Travel Blogger and Blogging Coach at The City Sidewalks. With her expertise in online marketing, she's able to help other bloggers, creatives, and entrepreneurs grow their businesses so that they can achieve financial freedom to travel the world on their own terms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

69 Responses

    • Bill Nelson

      I work for a company that once paid for 50,000 Instagram Followers from InstagramFollowers.co with essentially no negative repercussions. The followers we got were all real people (I don’t know where this idea of “smoke and mirros), they were all targeted toward our niche, and they were a great stepping stone for us to achieve the 525,000+ followers we now have 8 months later. Just do your research, and don’t use the followers for the sole purpose of show-off you should be fine.

      • ritta

        nice write up. i never have problem with the site i use.. i you get instagram followers from a trusted company. i use http://fansdrive.com/instagram

    • Fabian VU-Z

      Well I did, and you know what? I lost them all after the Instagram Spam Purge in Dec 2014. That’s why I don’t recommend to buy followers, if you seriously want to grow your Instagram following.

      Cheers, Fabian

    • Susana

      What do you think of websites like http://igboost.net/ that sell followers and likes ? I have been thinking about purchasing but after reading your post i will try to be more careful.

      • John Craven

        I think if you want to promote, you should not ignore any communication channel.

  1. Pemberley Jones

    I take a lot of pride in my IG feed and I’ve never understood why anyone would do this? What fun is having fake followers?! I love engaging with people on Instagram and have met many interesting people on the platform. Sadly, I have noticed the rise in spammy comments and fake followers in everyone’s feed, my own included. It makes my skin crawl, but now I know it’s worth figuring out how to delete them!

  2. Linda

    I don’t think that either of your examples proves anything.

    Look at any popular account, like Lady Gaga for example, and it’s littered with spam comments because spammers flock to popular accounts where their comments are more likely to be seen. Do you really think that anyone would pay to get “make money online” spam comments? That would not benefit them in any way.

    • Brie Shantel

      The difference between Gaga and some unknown blogger is that Gaga has a cult following, she has real or “organic” followers. Whereas this person who is paying for it does not, she isn’t paying for the spam.

      • Tali

        Noone pays for spam. Spam is free in this world (I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or not)

  3. Neysela

    This is such a timely article for me. I don’t have many followers on Instagram and have recently noticed a lot of spam on my account and quite a few are obviously fake. Thanks for the tip on highlighting them, I was choosing to ignore them.

  4. Janice

    if brands think consumers don’t notice then they are wrong. the faker link shows @wanderlustandco has 11% real followers and @botica %30 like @mittromney only 20% etc, there followers profiles are all spam! it’s completely inethical but of course

  5. Rachel

    This is so interesting! I’ve heard all about buying followers and never knew anything, seems like a bad idea to me!

  6. Jahaira

    I did not even know this was possible. Buying Twitter and Instagram following seems so dishonest. I’ve been blogging for three years now and my followers number is quite low but you know what, i’m proud of it. It means its genuine.

    Thanks for such an informative post.

  7. Samantha

    I’ve been curious about this since you’ve been writing more and more about fake followers – I don’t know how the “buying” process works, so I’m looking forward to some insight – how feasible would it be for a company/blogger to buy fake followers “for” another company/blogger in order to tarnish a competitor’s credibility? It seems like this issue is one that’s just coming to light, so we may not see it yet (and hopefully we won’t), but is this a legitimate concern as readers start becoming more and more aware of the practice?

    • Henry Instagram Followers

      Hi Samantha, we tried out a company to buy Instagram followers cheap and we ended up on http://socialmediacombo.net and we have not been disppointed at all.. We started our campaign with merely 43 followers, we purchased 2000 to start off with and a month later we have over 5600+ followers on our feed.. If you substract the 2000 “fake” we bought we still keep 3600 that would perhaps take us months to accomplish..

      People here and there talk a lot and they all say they won’t buy but when they see their competitors numbers its another story.. And yes, If I find a bunch of bots that I can buy for a competitor and smash his credibility we’ll do it.. This is BUSINESS BABY.. When have you seen business and moral go out on date?

  8. Ais

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with Linda on this one. I’ve gotten a lot of spam on my blog (I love comment moderation–I’d have double the comments if I let them all through) and I haven’t asked any of them to follow, register, comment, like, or anything else. They just want to get as many links as possible out into the world because that’s what spammers do. So, while someone could be buying fake followers/likes, there’s also a good chance that it might just be that people want to jump on the bandwagon and get as much exposure as *they* can.

  9. Marissa

    Wow, until I read this I never knew that you could buy followers. I can see where the temptation lies but it isn’t something that I would ever do. I want people to follow me in an honest way and because they like what I have to day, not because I paid for them.

  10. Tali

    I do have all kinds of weird “get more likes” accounts following me, and I cannot do anything about it.
    I find it really weird that you talk about spam comments as if the blogger is to blame for receiving spam comments. Noone can control spammers, and even the hugest instagram accounts that belong to famous bloggers (like garrypeppervintage) get spammed. So are they buying followers?? I don’t think so. Spammer are just spammers, they spam wherever they think it’s right to spam. I get my photos spammed too, so I delete these comments and forget about it. But what would you do if you get more than 100 comments per photo? Go through all of them and delete spam?

  11. Sabina

    Sad how these fake, sold accounts keep popping up. I recently participated in an online contest with a community (Facebook) vote and was approached by someone offering to sell me hundreds of votes through his fake accounts. (I declined.) I didn’t realize people were buying and selling fake Instagram likes too. Where does it end?

  12. Catherine

    great article! I agree the biggest miss on instagram is their failure to address/curtail spam. I hate my photo’s get spammed because it discourages my actual followers to participate. I thin it is a larger issue they need to address.

  13. Evelin Urena

    I have seen a lot of those comments on people’s pictures. Now it all makes sense. How ridiculous!

    I just opened up an Instagram account for my followers to keep up with my new blog posts/photos. I made sure to keep the account unblocked so that I could get more followers. I got a girl comment on one of my photos and she put a hash tag on her comment. Then minutes later I was getting all these notifications on new followers who had private profiles, the ones who weren’t private seemed to be displaying nude photos and ‘need a date’ on their profile description. Now these people are following me and I don’t even know how they heard about me. I think it was that hash tag. Is this something I need to worry about?

  14. Arianna

    Interesting article, but I think you’re unfairly tarring everyone with the same brush, Chelsea. Spammers spam everywhere, no one pays for it! Believe me, it finds you. Mostly because you’re a larger target.

    I have a well maintained IG account with 16,000+ real followers that I have gotten by posting quality content, interacting with other users, and a few media mentions (Mashable etc.)

    Having said that, my reach is actually lower than it used to be because I don’t make it to the popular page as much anymore because I have a high amount of followers. Many of them are probably inactive, as is natural in any social media format, though they’re certainly not bogus. The algorithm for making the popular page essentially means that you need an exceptionally high engagement rate immediately as soon as you post a photo in order to make the popular page, meaning that my photos rarely make it there anymore despite having a large genuine follower base. I think my recent photos are better than some of the older ones that were popular, so it’s unlikely to be a massive decline in photo quality.

    Anyway, I get inundated with fake/spam comments and it’s pretty unreasonable to say that ‘brands see discrepancies’ when ‘investigating further’ or that having photos with vastly different numbers of likes indicates foul play. Some photos of mine made the pop page and had in excess of 1,000 likes — and others don’t, and have an average of 150 – 250.

  15. Carrie Doe

    Oops, I heard about those tricks, and find them utterly disgusting, full of “despair”. If you wanna remain true to yourself, you would never consider any fake promotion… IMHO!

  16. Matt Morgan

    Buying followers. What’s the point? Fake followers aren’t going to convert to sales. Plus, the fake followers would have to be retweeting your content in order to show any sort of boost in search engine rankings from social influence. Your time and money is better spent creating something awesome and shareable.

  17. Dan V

    I recently ranted about this on my very own blog. My Instagram account is drawing attention for some reason and I suddenly got ten likes in two seconds for a random nonsensical photo so it made me wonder.

    Since social media in general is driven by human ego and interaction, having fake followers will destroy that whole concept. Brands and companies will not trust it if they think it is populated with automations. Automations don’t buy products. Humans do.


  18. Happy Camper

    Well there is an alternative side to it as there is with everything. You usually need to have something to get something. If you have a base of followers, people are more likely to pay more attention to what you’re posting. After purchasing followers it’s also recommended to make consistent and quality posts to gain organic followers. Anything in excess can be damaging… but with a bit of moderation, doing some research to buy “quality” followers, and a bit of common sense, buying followers can be quite advantageous.

  19. David Jones

    I know the answer why people have fake instagram followers. its simple…they just want cheap popularity 🙂 because I’ve seen there are many boys have fake followers who are girls & like to show their profile to friend circle 🙂 isn’t it?

    • Frances

      I absolutely concur. I have an Instagram account myself, and I follow this specific person and I SWEAR he gains fifty followers an hour! So what I did was I went to one of his pictures (which had 166 likes) and I decided to look who liked it (not in a stalking way) and I came to find out that HALF of the people who liked his pictures weren’t even real. They were fake accounts with only 1-5 follower and following 1,758 people! This is stupid and pointless. I just made my a new account and I have 99 followers -_- and this girl made a new one as well and by the end of the week she had 450 followers. What is this sorcery ?!

  20. Kalyca Romeo

    I did notice spammers leaving comments and following my acct for weeks. Each one I deleted immediately after noticing which worked because they’ve stopped attacking my account. Yea at first glance the amount of followers looks great, but it means nothing if you can’t get feedback from them.

  21. Kim B.

    What if that person who’s IG you posted got that many likes BECAUSE they were on the popular page? Like, they ended up there because they met the algorithm and subsequently received said absurd amount of likes? Now we’re accusing them of buying likes? How do we know top tier bloggers don’t just have the funds to buy the followers and likes on a reoccurring basis?
    Also, I think it’s ridiculous that you linked to these sites that sell such things. Are you getting affiliate commissions for that too?

  22. MArk Johnson

    yeah I’ve even seem dodgy websites who make you pay to be on the popular page, so now I know how they do it, thanks to your article!

  23. Sussie Soltreri

    I disagree.. I bought a few followers from http://socialmediacombo.com and them guys supplied followers which look real and boosted my account with real followers as well but for some reason I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do..

    For entrepreneurs its good to have a good number of social followers. it increases credibility at the same time it also adds a good confidence for their blog or business website. Tt will definitely help as a short term goal, and you have an ample time to build your real followers. you can buy Instagram followers cheap here – Social Media Combo.com

  24. Junior

    The likes have to come from the users that follow you in order to make the popular page. it cant just be by random people. So even if you buy likes right after posting a picture you still wont make the popular page

  25. Sechy

    I wonder why ifb and anyone else reading this hasn’t noticed the spammers in the comment column yet. Seriously, I bought all the members in this forum were screened?

    Anyhow, buying likes gives bloggers a bad name. If you are a crap blogger, having lots of followers isn’t going to help you. People who buy followers have no respect from me and just look like try hard and losers. It’s like buying a fake bag and trying to pass it off as real.

  26. HitGram

    Here is my advice;

    -Get followers from http://HitGram.com
    -Add tags to your stuff. That way when people search tags, they will see your posts.

    I’ve gained about 5000 followers in the last few hours. I take my own advice

  27. Anthony E. Robins

    I don’t think that buying Instagram likes and followers is a kind of cheap idea.Each and every social marketing based company prefer cheap Instagram followers and like to grab the web traffic in there site to promote and its showing good results in business too.

  28. buyinstagramfollowersbc

    This stuff is down t earth, hats off buds out there.

  29. Karen Dessault

    My colleagues have been using http://www.famecrowd.com to buy facebook fans and instagram followers for the past few months and they are very happy with the results.
    Their system uses the power of the crowd to generate more buzz and thus increasing social media following.

  30. Shah

    It’s disgusting and I find these people sad. This tshirt brand @thetshirtswag had only 5000 followers on There account and now they have 16k+ I checked there followers mostly are fake account with 1 or 2 posts I wish I could report them for buying fake followers

  31. felicia

    I will never do it because I have a fear I will get my account taken over and made into a spam account. But I see tons of teenagers doing it so they can have more followers than following. You can also tell that they doing that because they also have very few likes with tons of followers. It’s cheap and easy to get

  32. tanvi

    your information is very best information.I really impressed to read all this great information.I really appreciated this great information.thanks for sharing all this great information.

  33. Sabrina

    I’ve seen people buying followers for their blogs before.
    I find it generally suspicious if blogs with a lot of followers get very little comments on their posts.

  34. Christina`

    I’m new to the blogging world and Instagram. I’m trying to organically build a following and stay away from fake followers/spammers. The goal is to get readers/followers to engage and come back. I’ve seen several bloggers buy followers and I do believe it well hurt them in the long run.

    You should never sacrifice your dignity to accomplish your goals/dreams.

  35. Channi

    First of all please STOP it….
    I have only been on IG for a little over a yr and I have a large amount of organic followers and even though I’ve never engaged in any “funny business” Some of my photos got close to 1000 likes and some only a hundred and fifty..
    That be said, people will “like” what they like and its nothing people can do about it. Also, when people see u have a large following they WILL spam u and it doesn’t mean u have purchased followers or WHATEVER, it means people are spamming your account. I can’t stand BS blogs like this that mislead people into thinking something is wrong just because some pics have a significant amount of likes and other don’t. Please spare us with these pointless OPINIONS and come correct with actual facts! Unless u are zeroing in on each follower account to determine it’s authenticity, save it.

  36. realfollowers

    You can invest more of a chance choosing what energizing offers you are going to present to your recently extended fan base.this generally transposes into more income and salary for you. One is basically reports that the organizations began however don’t really overhaul or article from. As fast as they recognize that a particular advancement gadget is expanding the colossal number of center that twitter is making right now click

  37. sonia

    I was following a fashion blogger , troprouge and suddently saw her likes going up a thousand a day for several weeks and now it’s 107000 as of now. Wrote on her instag asking why was she doing it and she denied that she’s god’s child and was mad and blocked me from leaving any comments . I finally unfollowed her as she was fake and rude only wants to hear good comments and nothing negative about her

  38. Philip

    I’m disagree with your title Chelsea!!!
    You can buy real Instagram likes or followers on my web. I promise they are real likes/followers or comments. I told you that because I pay them for they send likes, followers, etc. You can check it on my webPage. If you aren’t happy I refund your money.


  39. french

    I think that some of the info on here is good and some bad. For instance I normally get about 180 likes per photo. I have 7500 organic followers and that number seems so low to me (the likes that is). Although I had one photo reach over 1000 likes and sometimes others get 400. I don’t buy my likes so I think it really just depends on your followers.

  40. hultza

    It may seem enticing to simply buy a following rather than letting it organically grow over time, the reality is, it may actually hurt your social media in the long run.

  41. James

    Instagram is a good idea for promotion, really. Because, I tried promoting my appstore app using instagram, just buying instagram followers, likes etc from smmadmin (this is also my testimonial) and they did it pretty well. I got few hundreds of download in my app. I choose them for all the social media marketing. this is the service link I brought:http://goo.gl/96eW4y & http://goo.gl/SzQqqo

  42. lala girl

    I have only done kt once but i IMMEDIATELY felt so stupid and fake so i deleted that photo and i started again. Sometimes it makes random men like your photos which is not good.

  43. Sarah

    I know I’m commenting on an old post but I haven’t found very much info on fake followers for Instagram. Seems most ppl are only talking about twitter. We just got 800 followers in about 15 hours of what looks like fake accounts. They all have strange names, one to two pics and mostly 0 followers. We went from 400 real followers to 1200. I don’t want to look like I paid for them well one because I didn’t and two for the reasons stated above. Anyone else have this happen to them and how did they fix it? It happened so fast and going through each one and blocking will take me weeks.

  44. Stephen Clark

    In some cases, your company (either big or small) requires quick marketing strategy for promotional purpose. Instead of waiting for more people to become your account’s followers, you may want to buy cheap Instagram followers. It is a legit business, and it does offer plenty of advantages as briefly outlined below.

  45. Max

    I remember buying instagram followers from I don’t reccomend buying your followers. They all look real, don’t get me wrong, but you look like kind of a noob when you have 4000 followers and only get 20 likes per photo lol

  46. sass

    What about when it looks like someone else is buying fake followers for your account.
    How can I find out who is doing that?

    I have been blitzed a few times by an increase of hundreds of followers in a matter of seconds – then about 50% disappear a few days later. So, my follower numbers go up an down like a yo-yo. Hardly the consistency one wants for a brand!

    Is there any way one block one’s account from people buying followers for it?

  47. James

    I remember buying instagram followers. I don’t reccomend buying your followers. They all look real, don’t get me wrong, but you look like kind of a noob when you have 4000 followers and only get 20 likes per photo lol

  48. Kevin Shepard

    Buying followers is stupid, can’t argue with this, but now it’s past, no one’s buying this crap anymore. Latest trend now is much more efficient and less shameful: services like zengram.net do get you followers, but they do it via sophisticated search algorithms. Then the app interacts with user by liking their pics, leaving meaningful comments, then probably following them. That’s pretty much the same things you would normally do, except you don’t need to do all this manually. Won’t you agree that you’d better take a couple pictures to post later than to tap mindlessly for hours?

  49. Nasir Ahmed

    I am really happy to get your content and I do believe that users or companies with low brand awareness can benefit from using more hashtags in start-up phases. I’m going to have to agree with Linda on this one. I’ve heard all about buying followers and never knew anything, seems like a bad idea to me! Thanks for sharing this content with us.

  50. Jalisa Cottman

    I never really used money the buy likes and followers it just too much and even if I had the chance it would be for self worth which is not good self-esteem. I’m shy so if I’m popular people would think something is up because its not normal for a loner like me to have 10k or millions but I worked to get 1120 followers and that’s good for an average person.(normal life much) hahaha???

  51. Monica

    Totally agree. I even use this app https://spamguardapp.com to delete and block all ghost and fake followers among my audience. I need only real followers to build healthy and strong community that matters. I don’t need huge numbers. I want to share.

  52. Laur Trueman

    NOT TRUE!!!! Buying likes and followers has made a great career 4 my previous LILLEE JEAN. I recon try it!