Like any other social network, Instagram often revolves around the number of followers an account has. It is often used to define whether an account is successful. If users encounter a new account, they will often determine whether or not to follow the account on basis of the amount of followers. In this sense, Instagram users trust the assessment of other users: if a high number of users are following the account, it must be a good one. Additionally, the number of followers is important for the account owner himself: the more people follow your account, the more people you can reach with your content. That is why the number of followers is an important indicator for many accounts.

„There are two kinds of people on social networks: those who want more followers and those who are lying.“

                                                                       – Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley Marketing Executive

Since the amount of followers an account has, has been of quite a high significance to many, “fake followers” have started to appear on Instagram. A simple query will lead you to multiple pages where one can buy followers. It is possible to buy up to 10.000 followers for only $50. The catch is that these followers are not real people. Instead, these fake accounts are operated by bots. One can also generate fake followers right on Instagram, as different accounts want to provide you with fake followers “just with one click”.

Instagram has been dealing with fake profiles of any kind harshly. In December of 2014, millions of accounts were deleted by the fotosharing app. What was crucial about this was the fact that many highly popular accounts lost large amounts of followers, such as singer Justin Bieber. As the trend has continued after the first wave of deletions, Instagram has been doing this on a regular basis. This has led to the loss of followers on different popular accounts, some of which were important influencers and bloggers.

From a professional point of view, the reliance on fake-followers is pointless. The success of an Instagram account should not be measured by the number of followers alone. It can be relatively “easy” to gain followers who will only follow your account but will not interact with it in any way. Therefore, the amount of followers an account has will not be of relevance for the account’s quality.

The following factors should be of higher importance when it comes to quality:
  • How many users interact with your account on a regular basis?
  • How much traffic is your website generating through social media appearances?
  • How many conversions have you been able to generate through your Instagram account?
  • How many of your own favored accounts are following you?

All these are important indicators to evaluate your company’s appearance on Instagram. At the end of the day, only an interactive community which shows real interest in your account and content will lead to the anticipated goals. Surely, a large amount of followers is a nice side-effect as it will increase the amount of users you can reach. Still, this should not be the main goal for your account.

Just like any other social media platform, the content you create for Instagram should always follow the motto “quality over quantity”. Always keep in mind that the content you produce and publish should be of value for your (potential) customers: tell a story, spread important information and animate your customers to become part of your brand’s community. When you only start out on Instagram this can be quite a hard task, as an engaging and interactive community can only be build over time. This is where you need to be patient and persistent. But bear in mind that this will pay off once your Instagram account is authentic and produces animating content.

Other social networks have been fighting fake accounts as well. Twitter and Facebook have admitted to investors that around 5% of their users are not real people but simply bots. The problem seems to be spreading. Our advice for you: create authentic, appealing content that is customized to your target group and you will gain real followers in no time!


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