Don‘t Buy Instagram Followers: A Guide for Small Businesses

As a boutique marketing consultant helping small businesses maximize their Instagram presence, I‘ve seen the temptation to take shortcuts for quick growth firsthand. Services boasting instant followers at cheap prices seem like simple solutions when you‘re struggling to get off the ground. However, most fail to mention the massive risks involved — not just to your account, but your whole brand.

In this beginner‘s guide to growing your Instagram following, I‘ll break down exactly why buying followers fails compared to earning followers organically over time. I‘ll also share tips to avoid shady growth services based on my own experiences in the space.

How Buying Instagram Followers Works (And Harms)

Let‘s start by getting into the process behind bought Instagram followers and engagement, since knowing what you actually pay for matters.

Services like Instalabs don‘t grow your followers through ads or influencers like they claim. Instead, they deploy bots and fake accounts to inflate your follower count rapidly. These accounts don‘t actually care about your brand — they just mindlessly favorite, comment, or follow thousands of random accounts a day based on settings rather than your content quality.

This directly harms organic reach and perception for real Instagram users. Firstly, an account with 50k botted followers but only 100 likes per post will seem odd and untrustworthy, deterring potential supporters. Secondly, bots violate Instagram‘s terms by simulating fake engagements, jeopardizing account standing. If discovered in an audit, your account faces disabling or banning.

Research by SocialPros shows the average fake follower has a horrible 0.2% engagement rate, compared to 1.5-4% for real humans. Clearly, numbers mean nothing without actual interest behind them.

Warning Signs of Shady Reseller Services

While Instagram growth services aren‘t all bad, shady resellers like Instalabs operate in ethically dubious territory. Watch for these red flags:

  • No HTTPS – Unsecured sites place your personal info at risk for hackers
  • Fake reviews – Sites use stock photos and names to fake credibility
  • Reused website copy – Shady sites steal layouts and text from competitors
  • Cheap tiers – Ultra-low pricing indicates reliance on bots and mass fakes
  • No customer support – Lack of contact beyond basic forms equals no accountability

Essentially, shady companies prioritize pumping up vanity metrics over protecting your account or brand interests. Don‘t take the risk.

Negative Impacts Beyond Just Followers

While dropping huge sums just to lose your account sounds bad enough, buying followers causes problems beyond the numbers themselves:

  • You train the Instagram algorithm your content doesn‘t resonate with audiences, tanking reach and discovery
  • Influencers see through artificial inflation and avoid partnership opportunities
  • You create distrust among real potential customers with fake engagements
  • Strikes against your account make complete banning or disabling more likely in the future

Essentially, you sabotage the authentic growth so critical for turning followers into shoppers and brand advocates. Stay far away from shortcuts and sketchy services — always.

Growing Your Instagram Account Organically

Here are my top 5 tips for organically growing your business Instagram the right way, from start to finish:

1. Define Your Niche, Buyer Persona & Content Pillars

Who exactly do you serve and what value do you provide them? Get specific down to demographics, interests, common objections, and desired content types.

2. Design An On-Brand Profile That Clearly Communicates Your Offering

Make sure your profile aesthetically aligns with your product/service and relays what you do clearly via branding and messaging in the bio and highlights.

3. Research Competitors, Influencers & Potential Partners Within Your Niche

See what content best connects with your target customers and ideate creative ways you can add value relative to competitors.

4. Create & Curate Valuable, Engaging Content Aligned To Pillars & Interests

Post content and stories regularly that grabs attention and spotlights your products in lifestyle context.

5. Interact Genuinely With Micro & Macro-Influencers In Your Niche

Comment on their posts, share their content, and collaborate on giveaways or creative projects to launch your brand.

While slow at first, these proven organic Instagram marketing strategies set you up for consistent, sustained growth month to month. And real followers drive real revenue through voluntary engagement over time.

Stay patient, stick to your unique voice, and avoid shortcuts like Instalabs. You‘ve got this!

Feel free to reach out if you have any other Instagram related questions for your small business!