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 Do Influencers Buy Instagram Followers? (+4 Ways to Check) — Horizontal
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Do Influencers Buy Instagram Followers? (+4 Ways to Check)


Updated on September 8, 2023
4 minute read

Looks can be deceiving. 🔍

Published September 8, 2023
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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.

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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). 

FYI: Later is an official Instagram partner, meaning using our app has Instagram’s stamp of approval. Start planning and scheduling your content with our tools — sign up today.

Why Buying Instagram Followers Is a Bad Idea

Spoiler: Instagram followers ≠ Instagram success.

For aspiring and established influencers, buying Instagram followers can:

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: 

  1. Low Engagement Rate

  2. Solely Spam-like Comments

  3. Inactive or Empty Follower Profiles

  4. Inconsistent Follower Demographics & Niches

  5. 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.  

FYI: Later Influence™ is an influencer marketing platform trusted by enterprise brands to grow and manage their partnerships — accessing verified creators. Click to learn more.

#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.

Spam comments on Instagram.

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.

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