Growing your audience is hard work, and it takes time. Some content creators may be tempted to purchase fake followers to give their accounts a boost. But there are strong reasons why you shouldn’t give into the temptation.

In this article, we’ll explain how fake followers can harm your account and share 20 ways you can grow your following organically!

The consequences of buying fake followers

Your engagement rate will drop

When you buy fake followers, your engagement rate will be suspiciously low, and this is easy for us, and brands, to spot. We can detect abnormal engagement rates comparing them to benchmarks we’ve created form analyzing over 2,000 collaborations. The benchmarks below can be used to determine how creators’ engagement rates compare to their follower size.

With these benchmarks, we can easily identify creators who have engagement rates that vary widely from what they’re expected to have. For instance, if you have 200k followers, but only 500 of them are legitimate and engage with your posts, your engagement rate will only be 0.3%, much lower than the benchmarked 1.6%. This would likely raise some red flags. Additionally, there are other warnings signs we use to spot fraudulent activities. You can find them here.

You risk losing your Instagram account

Instagram wants their users to have genuine interactions on their platform, so they’ve recently announced that they’re taking a stand against inauthentic activity. They’ve built machine learning tools to spot accounts that use third party apps to generate fake likes, comments, and follows. Instagram purges accounts of fake followers regularly, so even if you don’t think you’ve paid much to grow your account, you’ll lose out in the end when your follower count drops. On top of that, by purchasing fake followers, you’ll be in violation of Instagram’s Community Guidelines and Terms of Use, and you’ll risk suspension.

You’ll damage your reputation

When you take shortcuts and purchase fake followers, rather than growing your following organically, you risk damaging your reputation as a creator. If the brands you collaborate with or your followers spot unusual activities on your account, they’ll investigate. If they figure out you’ve been buying followers, you’ll lose all credibility, and it’ll be impossible to gain their trust back. Remember, the trust between you and your followers is essential for influencer marketing to succeed.

Growing your Instagram account organically

Rather than buying fake followers, it’s important that you grow your Instagram account organically. Here are 20 tactics you can use to gain more followers:

Content

1. Include yourself in your photos. Your followers want to see the people behind the accounts they follow.

2. Share great, high-quality content. People will engage with great content, and it’ll help you get new followers. So be sure to consider the lighting and focus of your photos.

3. Post consistently. Your followers will expect to see content from you, so try to post once a day. It’ll help you gain more likes and follows.

4. Quality over quantity. It’s better to share a quality photo every other day than share a mediocre one. If your followers don’t like what they see, it’s easy for them to unfollow you.

5. Create a visually appealing feed. Use the same filter or similar colors in your photos, so your overall Instagram feed will look consistent and stunning.

6. Decide on a theme (ie: Food, fashion, etc.) to differentiate yourself from others. When people visit your profile, they should get an idea of what type of posts you publish with scrolling too much. If they like what they see, they’ll give you a follow.

7. Stick to the theme you’ve selected. Don’t switch up your category once you’ve chosen one. Your followers expect to see similar posts to the ones they’ve already seen when they chose to follow you.

8. Create a great Instagram bio, so potential followers will get an idea of who you are and what you post about. It may be the first thing they see when they visit your profile —  make it catchy!

9. Curate your best stories on Highlights. By showcasing stellar stories, you’ll be able to entice potential followers to tap Follow.

Engagement

10. Interact with your followers. Like and reply to your followers’ comments. Your conversations with them will help form the relationships between you and your followers.

11. Go beyond Instagram photos. Experiment with other media types, such as Stories or IGTV. Videos are a great way to engage your followers and show off your personality, which can’t often be captured in a still photo.

12. Concentrate on your captions. Ask questions, tell a story, and be genuine — it’s a great way to initiate conversation and develop relationships with your followers.

13. Upgrade to a Business account so you’ll have Instagram Insights. Use Insights to check which posts have gotten the most impressions and engagement. If a certain type of post has gotten more than others, try posting more of that content.

14. Determine who your target audience is. This way, you’ll be able to produce content that appeals to them, so they’ll interact with you and your posts.

Exposure

15. Use quality hashtags. By using the right hashtags, you’ll boost the visibility of your content and attract more followers. Remember, your hashtags should be relevant to the posts you publish!

16. Tag your location. This will also help you expose your content to a wider audience, making it easier to get followers.

17. Post content at optimal times during the day. People browse Instagram throughout the day, but by researching the regions and time zones your audience is in, you’ll be able to post during the best hours.

18. Share the link to your Instagram profile on other channels. Your fans, subscribers, or followers on Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter may not necessarily know you have an Instagram account, so you can bring more attention to your Instagram.

19. Follow other creators in your niche. Like and leave an authentic comment on their photos, so you’ll expose your profile to your ideal audience.

20. Collaborate with other well-known creators. Try asking other creators in your category if you could do guests posts or stories on their account, so you can reach a new, relevant audience.

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