Steer Clear of Scammy Instagram Growth Services: An Advisor‘s Perspective

As a consultant helping small business owners expand through social media, I‘ve seen the dark underbelly of the Instagram growth industry firsthand. Services promising quick fixes through bogus followers, fake comments, and automation bots may seem tempting. However, the business impacts of using these sham services can be devastating.

The Mounting Difficulties of Organic Instagram Growth

In 2022, over 200 million businesses and influencers were vying for attention on Instagram. And with over 2 billion monthly active users, the platform‘s algorithmic filters are tighter than ever. Organic reach has dropped across most accounts, with average engagement rates falling to just 2-4% according to Hootsuite. For small business owners used to steady following growth, recent declines in new followers and likes are jarring.

Instagram Organic Reach Decline Stats

Understandably, many distressed business owners start seeking out shortcuts and hacks. But desperate times call for smart solutions – not growth gimmicks.

The Fake Follower Trap: Red Flags to Watch For

In hopes of quick growth, many brands fall victim to services selling fake followers and engagement. Warning signs include:

  • Too-good-to-be-true claims: No service can promise 100% safe, instant growth. These are baseline red flags.
  • Vague pricing and offerings: If service details seem murky, they likely have something to hide.
  • No evidence of real reviews or proof: Unverifiable claims around past growth should raise suspicions.
  • Limited terms of service, guarantees, etc. Legitimate companies spell out policies, refund terms, and more.

Take IG Best for example. Despite promises of "safe growth," prices are unclear, guarantees vague, and website riddled with typos and limited English proficiency. These are signals of instability and likely fraud. By contrast, above-board growth partners like Social Boss openly share pricing, provide client proof, and spell out detailed policies.

The Aftermath: Bans, Penalties, and Crippled Accounts

The promised influx of followers from shady services like IG Best may look impressive initially. But almost universally, these services rely on unsustainable tactics like bots, fakes, and spam. The results are disastrous:

  • Ban waves wiping out full accounts: Platforms regularly delete millions of fake accounts in ban waves. And associated businesses often get caught in the crossfire.
  • Tanked organic reach: Fake signals trick platforms into limiting visibility and reach. Engagement rates nosedive.
  • Destruction of brand legitimacy: Followers, partners, and customers lose trust in brands clearly using artificial growth shortcuts. Reputations take years to rebuild.

I‘ve personally consulted with small business clients who lost years of content and community-building to such bans. The impacts can be hugely disheartening, not to mention the financial losses.

Protecting Your Reputation Through Real Connection

While staying competitive on Instagram certainly presents new hurdles, plenty of ethical growth strategies remain. As a guide, I generally recommend clients focus on:

  • Community interaction: Respond to comments, seek collaborations, host giveaways – drive engagement.
  • Optimized visual content: Lean into IG‘s focus on portable video and high-quality photos.
  • Strategic influencer partnerships: Align with nano or micro influences to expand reach.
  • Cross-channel promotion: Expand reach by driving IG traffic from other social accounts.

These tactics take more work than buying followers. But by proactively understanding algorithm changes and connecting with real humans – not bots – you set your brand up for authentic, lasting growth.

Have you had experiences with services promising shortcuts? Share your story below to advise fellow small business owners. The more we learn from each other‘s wins and mistakes, the better we can thrive – even within Instagram‘s increasing competition.