Approximately 49% of Instagram influencers purchased followers in 2021.
Yup, you read that right.
While a large following can attract brands seeking influencer marketing partnerships, it might not guarantee success or credibility — especially if the numbers are inflated.
So, we're sharing everything you need to know about buying followers on Instagram — including four red flags brands should watch out for.
Table of Contents
Can You Buy Instagram Followers?
Yes, you can buy Instagram followers… but that doesn’t mean you should.
Why? Buying Instagram followers means paying for a number, which means most of your "followers" will be bots or inactive accounts who'll either spam (or never engage with) your posts.
Plus, they can cause more harm than good (keep reading).
Why Buying Instagram Followers Is a Bad Idea
Spoiler: Instagram followers ≠ Instagram success.
For aspiring and established influencers, buying Instagram followers can:
Ruin their integrity
Stunt their growth
Result in mismatched engagement and spammy, bot-like followers
Risk getting their account banned in violation of Instagram's community guidelines
On the flip side, brands who collaborate with these accounts risk partnerships with no payoff and wasted resources.
TIP: Check out this Later blog for legit Instagram follower growth tactics (and green flags): 18 Ways to Get More Followers on Instagram in 2023.
4 Signs An Influencer Might've Bought Instagram Followers
Think you’ve come across an influencer who buys their Instagram followers? Here are four ways to spot the fakes:
Low Engagement Rate
Solely Spam-like Comments
Inactive or Empty Follower Profiles
Inconsistent Follower Demographics & Niches
Bonus: Free Instagram Followers Checklist
#1: Low Engagement Rate
When it comes to vetting potential influencer marketing partners, engagement is everything.
And while a low engagement rate doesn’t necessarily mean an influencer buys their Instagram followers (engagement isn’t like it was in the early 2010s), it does warrant some investigation.
Check the influencer’s likes, comments, and shares. How much does their engagement vary? How does it compare to other accounts of their size?
According to a recent report, engagement rates range from 0.95% for accounts with over 100K followers to 4.21% for accounts with fewer than 5K followers.
Use this as a loose benchmark. If their engagement is much lower, scurry over to tip #2.
#2: Solely Spam-like Comments
One of the easiest ways to tell if an influencer buys Instagram followers? Check the comments!
Comment sections filled with solely generic, irrelevant, or spammy comments like emoji strings are a major red flag.
However, if you’re still on the fence, we recommend taking a peek at the commenters’ profiles (more on that, below).
CREATOR TIP: Get rid of bots and fake followers by auditing your following list and blocking accounts that post spam in your comments.
#3: Inactive or Empty Follower Profile
If you click on the profiles of those following a particular influencer and the majority are "ghost" profiles, it's a flag that they're fake.
Look for no posts, very few followers, and little to no activity.
Not much going on? Congrats, you’ve cracked the code.
#4: Inconsistent Follower Demographics & Niches
Some fake Instagram followers can look convincing — so it’s a good idea to dig a little deeper if you’re suspicious.
Our advice? Take a look at the bios and content (if any) of these profiles.
If a chunk of them indicate they’re from unrelated locations or have conflicting demographics (or niches), bought followers isn’t out of the question.
Bonus: Free Instagram Followers Checklist
Real talk: Screening an influencer for bought Instagram followers can be a lot on top of a busy to-do list.
A massive way to ease the process?
A free Instagram followers checklist to weed out the fakes again and again.
With Later’s free Instagram followers checklist, you can:
Effortlessly spot influencers who buy Instagram followers
Avoid ineffective (and potentially harmful) collabs
Form the ultimate, results-driven influencer marketing partnerships 🤝
In conclusion: Genuine engagement and active follower profiles are must-haves for a successful influencer marketing partnership.
So, the next time you’re wow’d by an influencer’s follower count, remember the age old saying: all that glitters is not gold. ✨
The perfect collab is right around the corner! Download our free ready-to-use checklist to weed out the fakes, today.