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Why You Shouldn’t Buy Instagram Followers (& What Experts Say to Do Instead)

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Why You Shouldn't Buy Instagram Followers (& What Experts Say to Do Instead)


You might know your Instagram content is good, but imagine how much better it will seem if it looks like 10,000 people agree.

Whether you’re trying to become a social media celebrity or simply looking to spread brand awareness on Instagram, it can be tempting to take shortcuts wherever you can in order to expand your audience, including ‘buying’ Instagram followers.

Here, we’re covering all the questions you have about buying Instagram followers. We’ve also explored the pros and cons, so you can decide for yourself if it’s a good move for your brand.

Can you buy Instagram followers?

How to buy Instagram followers?

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers

1,000 followers seem like a good deal for the price of a small Starbucks latte. But of course, if it really was that cheap and easy, everyone would be doing it. So what’s the catch? Is buying Instagram followers legal and safe for your business? Is it a worthwhile investment? And how much do these fake followers cost anyway?

How much do Instagram followers cost?

The cost for Instagram followers can range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars depending on how many you plan to purchase. However, keep in mind that buying followers is against Instagram’s terms of service, so the price you pay could be more than monetary. Buying followers could cost you your Instagram account, at worst, and a decrease in engagement and reach, at best.

How to Buy Instagram Followers

The vast majority of purchasable followers are either bots or inactive accounts. Here’s how it works:

The Fake Follower Vendors

Buying fake followers on Instagram is much harder now than it was a few years ago. Why? Instagram has been cracking down on accounts that violate their terms of service. What used to be fairly above-board is now an enigma. In order to buy Instagram followers these days, you’ll need to know someone who can put you in contact with a vendor who will actually deliver the bots — I mean followers — they say they will (you’ll also want to choose someone that you trust with your credit card information).

But what happens once you’ve paid for your followers? Assuming the vendor is legitimate (as legitimate as can be for this type of service) you’ll wait anywhere from a few minutes to a few days for your followers to trickle in. The sellers roll out your followers over time so as not to alert Instagram that something fishy is going on. Once you have your brand new automated followers, don’t expect much. These followers won’t do anything for your engagement metrics.

When you buy Instagram followers, you’re paying for a number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed.

When you buy Instagram followers, you’re paying for a number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed, or even likely.

When you buy Instagram followers, you’re paying for a number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed, or even likely.

Instagram Bots

Instagram bots are everywhere — you’ve likely come across several of them today alone. There are companies out there that have automated the process of creating bots so well that they can then sell them as followers. In some cases, the bots may even assume the identity of a real person, using stolen images and names.

Depending on the service, these dummy accounts may even seem organic, running on automation to share and like content. Some can even be programmed to produce content. However, because they’re not real people, they will not have an organic-looking following-to-follower ratio. As a result, the engagement they do produce will have little impact.

Without real followers to engage with your content, your posts are essentially hidden from everyone except your inauthentic audience. Plus, your bot followers won’t discuss your brand in real life with friends or family, because, well … they don’t exist in real life (no offense, bots).

Inactive Accounts

However, not all fake followers are bots. Some companies sell followers with genuine accounts.

In this situation, the accounts are created either because they’re managed by users whose only goal is to get followed in return. And while these followers might show early engagement, they’ll ultimately become a drain on your Instagram account’s performance metrics when their accounts go dormant.

After all, if their account was created for the sole purpose of fulfilling sponsorship requests, the real person behind the account has little reason to dwell on the newsfeed, interact with content, or purchase the goods and services being advertised.

Without that interaction, your follower numbers are inflated with none of the value that organic followers would bring.

Demographic Accounts

In addition to buying followers directly, you can also pay services to strategically follow other accounts on your behalf based on your preferences (location, hashtag usage, account type, and gender). Ideally, those followed accounts will then follow you back.

With this option, your followers are more likely to be real people, but engagement is still unlikely. Since you can’t even guarantee these accounts will follow you back, it’s a risky investment. Most accounts won’t follow you back, and even if they do, they probably aren’t going to be long-term, loyal, or active followers.

Simply put — you’ll get early engagement that tapers off over time.

Purchased Instagram followers also provide no long-term value to your profile’s content. The followers you buy might give you views, likes, and comments early into acquiring them as a follower, but the attention they throw you now won’t be there later — when you start reporting on how your Instagram account is performing.

And how helpful are 10,000 followers that don’t engage with you? Engagement is key to how Instagram’s algorithm displays posts to users. Without likes or comments, your post probably won’t show up on your audience’s newsfeeds, and it also won’t show up on any Explore Pages.

Fake followers could hurt your credibility.

Having a lot of followers could convince users to follow you organically, but it’s not a guarantee.

Remember the risks: these followers will probably never like or comment on a post, and if you’re caught with a ton of fake followers, that could ruin your credibility with your real audience.

Users might notice you don’t have a ton of engagement on your posts, which could deter them from following you. If you have 10,000 followers but only four likes per post, it won’t take people long to realize something is up.

Think of it this way: would you keep following an account if you saw that most of its “loyal audience” was made up of inactive accounts or bots? I’m guessing not. It could seem deceitful, and lead you to believe the brand couldn’t get authentic followers through good content alone.

Purchased Instagram followers can distort your performance metrics.

It’s practically impossible to measure how well your target audience is connecting with your brand if a high percentage of that audience isn’t real. How will you measure posts that do well with your real audience if those bots and inactive accounts skew the ratio?

If you don’t know how well your posts are doing or what your real audience thinks, you’ll never convert your Instagram followers into real customers. And isn’t that the point?

Ultimately, if you pay for Instagram followers, you aren’t paying for quality, real-life followers. You’re paying for a blank number. And since Instagram’s algorithm is largely tied to engagement, not followers, buying followers isn’t a long-term solution. In fact, it isn’t a solution at all.

Take the time, energy, and money that you would’ve dedicated to buying followers, and focus instead on building genuine relationships with a real audience. If your content is engaging and authentic, your loyal followers will spread the word and engage with your brand without needing any bribes.

Instagram identifies and purges fake followers.

Recently, Instagram has updated its terms of use to identify and remove inauthentic accounts from its platform. Instagram is also removing likes, follows, or comments from third-party apps that are designed to artificially grow accounts’ audiences. By buying followers, you violate Instagram’s community guidelines and it may trigger a reaction from Instagram’s moderators.

Instagram is looking to maintain genuine interactions on its site, protecting real accounts and experiences. Fake activity infringes upon this mission and might result in consequences, so it’s better to grow your audience organically.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers

Instagram’s new algorithm rewards engagement more than follower count, displaying content similar to posts users engaged with in the past. To drive engagement, there are many different actions you can try on the platform to get in front of your ideal audience.

By using good Instagram marketing practices — whether you are building your personal brand or a company account — you can better reach the nearly 800 million monthly Instagram users and build an authentic audience.

1. Make your account public.

First, make your account public so that users can see your profile and content. This way, you can grow your audience organically when your content pops up on users’ explore pages, attracting and delighting your target viewership.

You can easily make your account public by unchecking the Private Account Box in your Privacy and Security settings.

2. Give users a reason to follow you by publishing quality content.

Next, publish a variety of posts to your feed: you can post images, GIFs, Reels, videos, Boomerangs, quizzes on your story, how-tos, user-generated content, and so much more. Build trust and excitement among your followers by using high-quality photos, writing catchy captions, posting consistently, and keeping up a unique style overall to differentiate yourself from other accounts. Do your research on which hashtags generate a lot of buzz and which are aligned with your brand — hashtags can be a great way to reach new audiences if done correctly.

Depending on your brand personality, it can help to be funny or witty in your content. Having an awareness of how your brand is perceived and the trends going around Instagram will serve you when choosing content to post and how to interact with your Instagram community.

Quality Content in Action

HeytonyTV became an overnight viral sensation during the pandemic when he released skits where he plays the role of a school administrator. In a short period of time, he amassed hundreds of thousands of followers who couldn’t get enough of his creativity and wholesome, nostalgic humor.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers: Creating Quality Content Featuring HeyTonyTV

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You don’t have to be a comedian to gain followers, though. Being relatable and providing value to your audience is the number one goal.

3. Try Instagram Reels.

Instagram Reels has been known to increase the reach of a post beyond the audience that is following the account. This presents an opportunity for your content to attract people who are already engaging with posts similar to yours.

Start by recording a simple video using Instagram Reels. Include a few hashtags to the caption and choose a popular sound that people enjoy listening to. Even if you don’t see an immediate bump in followers, stay consistent and keep an eye on how many views your Reel gets. This will indicate how many people are watching your content.

Reels in Action

Hickory Lane Home uses Reels to show her followers more relatable content that draws the viewer in. As a result, the comments are flooded with relatable responses and amusement that you just can’t get from purchased followers.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers: Using Instagram Reels featuring Hickory Lane Home

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4. Use Hashtags.

Hashtags are like goldmines for finding new audiences. Users follow hashtags for updates about specific topics that interest them. If you use them intentionally in your captions, you have a great chance of showing up on the newsfeeds of people who’ve never seen your content before.

But don’t start adding random hashtags to all your content. You’ll need a hashtag strategy to ensure you’re targeting the right people. Moreover, the sweet spot for Instagram hashtags is 30. That might seem like a lot, but if you have a strategy for how you’ll use them, you’ll likely find more than 30 that would work for you. The key for hashtags is to be intentional with them. The reward will be well worth the effort.

Hashtags in Action

Take a look at the hashtag #dogsofinstagram for example. With over a quarter of a million posts, this hashtag has the potential to reach a wide audience.Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers: Using HashtagsHowever, it’s a great idea to pair that hashtag with a smaller, niche one like #ridgebackpuppy to reach people who love your particular breed of dog.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers: Using Niche Hashtags

5. Engage with other Instagram users.

A good rule of thumb on Instagram is to engage with other users. Whether you like, comment, save or share their posts, every interaction counts for you and them. Instagram’s algorithm favors engagement which means the more you interact (and the more people interact with you) the more likely it will be that your content appears on more and more news feeds. That means more visibility and growth for your page.

Engagement in Action

GoSimplified does a great job of responding to comments on its posts. This example shows that the comments don’t have to be detailed or long, but a simple acknowledgment goes a long way for engagement.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers: Engaging with comments featuring GoSimplified

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Pro Tip: Before you go overboard, remember that Instagram does have a limit to this “rule.” There have been cases where the social media platform blocked users from engaging with content if they liked and commented on more than a few hundred posts in an hour.

6. Use Instagram stories.

The audience for Instagram stories is simply waiting and watching for the next viral video or meme to slide across their screens. What makes stories arguably even better for growth than the traditional Instagram feed is the ability for users to interact with the content in a story.

Polls, quizzes, and questions are engagement magnets — the more people interact with those elements, the more people Instagram will share your story with.

Stories in Action

RMW.Home uses a series of stories to gauge her audience’s taste in home decor. Not only does this help her understand her audience better, but the polls are also helping expand the reach of her story and her profile to potential followers.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers: Using Instagram Stories featuring RMW.Home

7. Conduct market research.

Each of the alternatives we mentioned above is native to the Instagram app. However, a solid Instagram strategy begins with comprehensive market research, and there’s no shortcut to hearing directly from your audience about what content they want to see.

Market Research in Action

Stephanie Morgan, Founder and CEO at Social Lock stands by market research as an alternative to buying followers and says, “The alternative to buying followers is doing market research on what your ideal customer will resonate with, then posting that content in order to naturally accumulate [a] large following.”

Check out her methods for conducting market research on Instagram in the image below.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers: Market Research by Stephanie from Social Lock

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There’s a Better Way to Grow on Instagram

Instagram has been one of the fastest-growing social media platforms for several years and it’s showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. The pressure to keep up and with the growth can make buying followers tempting, but don’t succumb to that pressure. Between repercussions from the platform itself, lower engagement metrics, and the risk of spamming well-meaning users with bot comments, buying Instagram followers is simply not worth the trouble. The alternatives in this article can help you navigate a path toward organic follower growth that will be worth more than 10,000 fake followers could ever be.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow

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MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.


Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 


Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.


Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.


Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/MarketingOps.com, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 


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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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Is a Marketing Degree Worth it in 2023?

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Is a Marketing Degree Worth it in 2023?

If you’re thinking about getting a degree at any age, it makes sense to think about the value of that degree. Is the qualification needed for the career you want? Are there alternative paths to that career? Can you develop better skills by gaining experience in work? 

All of these are perfectly valid questions. After all, getting a degree requires a pretty large investment of both time and money. You want to know that you’ll get enough return on that investment to make it worthwhile.

Why marketing?

When it comes to marketing, a lot of entry-level jobs list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement. That doesn’t mean there aren’t alternate ways to get into marketing but having a relevant degree certainly makes your resume more competitive. 

Growth industry

Marketing skills are in demand in the current jobs market. According to a recent report from LinkedIn, marketing job posts grew 63% in just six months last year. Half of those jobs were in the digital and media sectors, meaning digital and content marketing skills are highly valued

Personal Development & Career Path

The reason for this increased demand for marketers is tied to the rise in digital marketing. New methods of marketing have continued to develop out of the digital sector. This means that marketers capable of creating engaging content or managing social media accounts are needed.

This leaves a lot of room for personal development. Young graduates who are well-versed in social media and community management can hit the ground running in digital marketing. Getting on this path early can lead to content strategist and marketing management positions.    

What are the Types of Marketing Degrees?

When we say marketing degree, the term is a bit too general. There are a lot of degree paths that focus on marketing in major or minor ways. The level of degree available will depend on your current education history, but the specific course will be down to your personal choice. 

Associate, Bachelor’s, or Master’s?

Recent statistics suggest that 74% of US marketing professionals hold a bachelor’s degree. 9% have an associate degree and 8% have a master’s degree. Here’s a quick overview of the differences. 

Associate degrees – 2-year courses that cover marketing and business in a more basic way than bachelor’s qualifications. They’re designed to give students the basic skills needed to apply for entry-level marketing jobs.   

Bachelor’s degrees – 3/4-year courses that cover business and economics. There is a range of bachelor’s courses with marketing at their core, but you’ll also cover wider business topics like management, communication, and administration. 

Master’s degrees – 2-year courses, usually only available if you’ve already completed a bachelor’s degree. MA or MBA courses are designed to develop a deep understanding of complex business topics. They are highly specific, covering areas like strategic marketing or marketing analytics. 

Free to use image from Pixabay

Marketing Specific or Business General? 

This is down to personal choice. There are general business degrees that will cover marketing as a module as well as marketing-specific degrees. There are also multiple universities and colleges, both offline and online, offering different course platforms

If you’re looking at a specific job role or career path, then research which type of degree is most relevant. Remember that you will need to add to your marketing skills if you intend to progress to management roles in the future. 

Check the Modules & Curriculum

This is important, and not only because it lets you see which courses align with your career goals. Marketing has changed significantly over the last decade, even more so if you go back to before the digital age. Many business courses are still behind on current marketing trends. 

What Jobs Look for a Marketing Degree?

Once you’ve got your marketing qualification, what jobs should you be looking for? Here are some job titles and areas you should watch out for, and what qualifications you’ll need for them.

Entry level

If you’re starting with a degree and no experience, or work experience but no degree, take a look at these roles. 

  • Sales/customer service roles – These are adjacent roles to marketing where most companies do not ask for prior qualifications. If you don’t have a degree, this is a good place to start.
  • Marketing or public relations intern – Another possibility if you don’t have a degree, or you’re still in education. 
  • Digital/content marketing associate – These roles will almost always require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. A good grasp of new digital and social marketing techniques will be required to succeed. 
  • Copywriter/Bid writer – This is a good route into marketing for those with journalism or literature qualifications. These roles combine aspects of marketing, creative writing, and persuasive writing. 
  • SEO specialist – A more focused form of marketing centered on SEO content optimization. If you know how to optimize a blog post for search engine rankings, this role is for you. Bachelor’s or associate qualifications will be a minimum requirement. 
  • Social media/community manager – Since these are relatively new roles, we tend to see a mix of degree-qualified marketers and people who’ve had success fostering communities or online brands but don’t have on-paper credentials.  

Free to use image from Unsplash

Career Progression

If you have an MA or MBA, or significant experience in one of the above roles, then you can look at these more advanced roles for your career progression.

  • Digital Marketing Manager – A role for experienced marketers that involves running campaigns and coordinating marketing associates. 
  • Senior Marketing Coordinator – A department management level role. Responsible for overall marketing strategy and departmental performance.  
  • Content Strategist – A specialist role that focuses on content strategy. Designing content plans based on demographic and keyword research are a core aspect of this role. 
  • Marketing Analyst – This role involves analyzing customer behaviors and market trends. If you want to move into analysis from a more direct marketing role, you’ll likely need specific data analysis qualifications. 
  • Public Relations Specialist – The public voice of a large organization’s PR team. Managing a brand’s public perception and setting brand-level communication policies like tone of voice.   
  • Experiential Marketing Specialist – This area of marketing is focused on optimizing the customer experience. Experiential specialists have a deep understanding of customer psychology and behaviors. 
  • Corporate Communications Manager – Communications managers are responsible for company-wide communications policies. This is an executive-level role that a marketing coordinator or public relations manager might move up to. 

Average marketing salaries

Across all the roles we’ve discussed above, salaries vary widely. For those entry-level roles, you could be looking at anything from $25 – $40K depending on the role and your experience. 

When it comes to median earnings for marketers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, we can get a bit more specific. Recent statistics from Zippia show us that $69,993 p/a is the average for bachelor’s degree holders and $80,365 p/a for master’s degree marketers. 

Image sourced from Zippia.com

Marketing Degree Pros and Cons

So, the question we asked above was “Is a marketing degree worth it?” Yet, in truth, it’s not a simple yes or no answer. The question you need to ask is “Is a marketing degree right for me?” Here’s a summary of the pros and cons that might give you some answers.  

Pros

  • Degree holders have better job prospects and higher earnings potential in marketing
  • You can study highly specific skills with the right courses
  • Gain soft skills like communication and collaboration

Cons

  • High time and money investment required 
  • Diminishing salary returns at higher levels
  • Can be a restrictive environment for self-starters and entrepreneurs

What are Marketing Degree Alternatives?

If you want to stick with education but don’t want to invest four years into a degree, then accredited online courses can provide an alternative. This can be your best choice if you wish to upskill in a specific area like running conference calls from Canada

If higher education really isn’t your thing, the other option is gaining experience. Some businesses prefer internships and training programs for entry-level roles. This allows them to train marketers “their way” rather than re-training someone with more experience.  

Free to use image from Unsplash

How to Decide if a Marketing Degree is Right for You

Ultimately, choosing to do a marketing degree depends on your goals, your preferences, and your talents. Consider all three factors before making your choice. 

Career Goals

Do you want a management position that needs marketing knowledge? What areas of marketing interest you? What skills do you already possess? Answering these three questions will help you define your career path. That will narrow down your course choices. 

If you want to get better at selling small business phone systems in Vancouver, you don’t need a four-year course for that. If you want to develop into high-level marketing roles, then you want that degree. 

Personality

You don’t need a specific personality type to work in marketing. Your personality and interests might determine what area of marketing would suit you best though. For example, if you’re outgoing and creative then public relations or social media management might be for you.    

Investment & Return

Money isn’t everything. But, if you’re going to put the resources into getting a degree, you want to know that you’ll get some return on your investment. From the figures we quoted above, it seems the “optimal” qualification in terms of salary return vs. time and money investment is a bachelor’s degree. 

Average earnings for marketers with a master’s qualification were only $10k higher. This suggests that you’re not really getting a significant financial return for the additional investment. Of course, if that master’s leads to your dream job, you might see it differently.  

Final Thoughts: Forge Your Own Path

Is a marketing degree worth it in 2023? The short answer is yes. Whether that means a marketing degree is right for you, we can’t tell you. Hopefully, though, this guide has given you the information you need to make that choice. 



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