As Instagram has become prime marketing and advertising real estate, more brands have been tempted to buy Instagram likes (and Views, Follows, Comments, Regrams. You name it; they’re all for sale) to compete with rivals who have large followings.
But artificially inflating your engagement numbers is not only a waste of time and money; it can also harm your business.
How? Gaming the system can actually decrease your engagement and destroy your reputation by creating a spammy presence that makes a bad impression of would-be followers and potential customers.
If you plan to buy Instagram likes to fool your audience as part of your Instagram strategy, it’s time to rethink that approach.
In this post, we’ll show you why you should NEVER BUY Instagram likes, and we suggest a few tried-and-true tactics to build your brand the authentic way, so you will NOT be tempted to BUY Instagram likes!
Why Brands Buy Instagram Likes
The reason brands buy Instagram likes is simple: engagement is the most important metric for making sure your Instagram post is seen.
Instagram uses engagement to determine what posts go at the top of users’ feeds. Popular posts are also more likely to end up in Instagram’s ‘Explore’ tab.
The Explore tab, which can be found by clicking the magnifying glass symbol on the bottom navigation menu, is a compilation of posts on different topics that you’ve liked — and posts liked by accounts you regularly interact with.
Since Explore shows users the posts that their followers like in each topic channel, and since more than 50% of Instagram accounts use Explore regularly, it’s an effective way for businesses to reach a new audience.
Long story short: if your post gets more likes, it will be seen by more people. So, many brands seeking to have their posts seen by a larger audience are buying Instagram likes to get a quick boost in engagement.
Just type “Buy Instagram likes” into Google and you’ll see dozens of services promising “real and genuine’ like” for as little as $0.01 each (usually in packages ranging from 50 to 10,000 likes or more).
When you buy Instagram likes from these services, your posts are automatically liked by the (often fake) Instagram accounts managed by the service.
They split the purchased likes across different posts so you don’t end up with one picture that has a crazy number of likes.
It can seem like the ideal solution for those short on time and marketing expertise, but the truth is buying Instagram likes is more likely to hurt your brand than help it.
Why You Should Never Buy Instagram Likes
We get it. On the surface, having a ton of likes (even if they’re bought) seems to be valuable, but it only actually works if you’ve earned them through organic tactics.
That’s because although the appearance of more engagement and popularity in the form of likes may have some short-term benefits — like impressing real users and getting some of them to follow you — fake likes could undermine future organic or paid campaigns.
Here’s how :
Reason #1 – Your Competitors (and Instagram) Can Tell When You Buy Instagram Likes
There are a few dead giveaways that your likes aren’t all real:
- If your likes-to-follower or likes-to-comments ratios are too high, it can be a sign that you buy Instagram likes, since buying likes is cheaper than buying followers or comments. The rate of engagement drops off steeply as accounts gain more followers, but even at their highest engagement rates are usually under 11%.
- If the accounts that liked your posts have profiles that show little activity in the form of posts, have few followers of their own, are missing a profile photo or haven’t been updated in ages, they may be accounts specifically created for brands who buy Instagram likes.
- If any like-buying services follow your account, it’s a dead giveaway that you buy Instagram likes, because these operations openly and widely advertise the fact that they sell likes (even right in their Instagram profile).
On top of all the negative consequences of buying Instagram likes, there’s the fact that likes may not matter as much going forward.
Instagram is rolling out an update that hides how many likes a post has. If no one can even see how many likes your post has, there’s certainly no advantage to buying fake likes!
Reason # 2 – Instagram Will Punish You
Following in the footsteps of similar crackdowns on Facebook and Twitter that purged tens of millions of fake accounts, Instagram in 2018 started removing “inauthentic” likes, followers, and comments from accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity.
If you’re a repeat offender, you could have your Instagram account shadowbanned, which is when Instagram partially blocks your content so only users who follow you can see it. You might even be banned outright. An outright ban will also permanently block your username, meaning you won’t be able to recreate your account. In the most serious cases, Instagram could restrict your IP address from accessing the Instagram app and website.
Reason #3 – Fake Likes Do Not Equal Real Business
No matter how many likes your posts show, paid engagement never results in real business. Unlike real people, likes from fake followers (bots or lines of programming code) can never lead to purchases or create brand loyalty. At best, they do little more than making your brand appear to be more popular than it actually is.
The negatives of buying Instagram likes far outweigh the positives. Your best bet is to grow your engagement organically, and we have a few tips you can follow to get more Instagram likes—the right way.
Don’t Buy Instagram Likes. Do These Things Instead.
Instead of relying on a cheap gimmick to increase your Instagram engagement, create a long-term Instagram strategy to organically build your brand in an authentic way.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Create Content with a Purpose
If you want people to stop scrolling through their Instagram feed and like your post, you need to create content they care about.
Users need to quickly see what they’re going to get out of your posts if they’re going to take the time to read it. Make the value of your post clear by tying it to a specific purpose. Is it informational? Educational? Entertaining?
Here are a few suggestions for types of posts and what they might include:
- Informational: Content that tells your audience about something they didn’t know.
- News – The latest local, national or international happenings in your field, industry or sector
- Research & Analysis – Research in a specialty field that explores a particular subject or area
- Shared Content – Interesting articles, stories other relevant content from around the Web
- Educational: Content that teaches your audience how to do something specific.
- How-to Guides – Step-by-step manuals on how to accomplish something
- Tutorials – Teaching materials in the form of a series of photos or instructional videos
- Reviews – Overviews of products or services to help with purchase decisions
- Inspirational: Content that urges and uplifts your audience, filling them with emotional spirit.
- Inspiring Imagery – Fashion, food, homes, gardens and travel photos/videos
- Personal Stories – Anecdotes about someone’s life to create feelings of empathy
- Opinions – Strong, thought-provoking perspectives on a particular topic
- Entertaining: Content that allows your audience to pass its time in an emotionally fulfilling way.
- Entertainment News – Celebrity-focused photos, stories, gossip and other content
- Mental Tests – Quizzes, trivia, and brain-teasers
- Humor – Breaking up the monotony with things that are funny
If you want users to like your posts on Instagram, you have to create content that catches their eye and appeals to their interests.
Create purposeful content so users know at a glance that they will get something out of your posts.
And if users enjoy your content, they can share it with their friends so they can ‘like’ it, too.
2. Tag People and Places
When you use the @ mentions feature to tag another user, they get a notification, which draws their attention to your post. If they engage with the post, suddenly you’ve expanded your reach (and potential for likes) to all of their followers as well as your own! This tactic is especially effective if you can tag an influencer, since they tend to have a larger following and more engagement than other types of users.
In this post, Allbirds featured and tagged user gregoryvelvet. When he commented, suddenly the post reach expanded to include his 151k followers.
This is a pretty common practice. In fact, nearly 60% of posts on Instagram tag another user.
You can also tag your location, showing other users exactly where the picture is located or where you are posting from.
Posts with location tags see 79% higher engagementthan posts without a tag.
3. Strategically Use Hashtags
Hashtags are among the best tools for organically increasing visibility and driving engagement of your Instagram posts. Use them liberally but wisely.
Although each Instagram post allows up to 30 hashtags, fewer may be better since overusing hashtags can confuse readers or appear spammy.
Rather than using general hashtags with high competition (like #travel or #MondayMotivation), it’s better to opt for more specific hashtags (think #NYCtravels or #YogaQuotesoftheDay).
Narrower hashtags have fewer posts to compete with, which means your post is more likely to be seen. Narrower hashtags are also going to reach users specifically interested in your post (they’re searching for similar content, after all).
Higher interest levels mean you have a better possibility of getting likes on your post.
Macy’s uses a good mix of extremely popular and more narrow hashtags. #activewear, for example, has over 3,570,000 posts. On the other hand, #workoutinstyle has around 82,000 posts.
Using a more focused hashtag can ensure that your content doesn’t get lost in a sea of posts, and that users seeing your post are interested in the content.
Interested users equal more likes!
4. Engage Users Daily
Remember, one of the basic rules of social media is that engagement fuels engagement.
Translation: The more you interact with other Instagram users, the more you increase your exposure and visibility.
That means you should take some time every day to engage with users.
Start by responding to every comment left on your posts.
Lego is very responsive on Instagram and it pays off, as you can see with this post. Lego’s reply got 214 likes—which is 214 likes that wouldn’t have happened if Lego didn’t engage its users!
You don’t have to wait for users to comment on your posts to engage. Go to competitors’ profiles and tap “followers” to find accounts to engage with.
Like and comment on their posts (in a genuine, meaningful way, of course), and some will start following you and engaging with your content.
The more active and responsive you are on Instagram, the more engaged users will be with your posts.
5. Share User-Generated Content (UGC)
Users love to see their content featured on your Instagram. It increases your brand authenticity and adds to social proof.
When you feature user-generated content (UGC) (with the creator’s permission, of course) you’re showing users how real people like and interact with your brand.
Real users lead to real engagement—the opposite of what happens when you buy Instagram likes.
Wayfair has a special hashtag to encourage UGC: #Wayfairathome
When users post with the hashtag, Wayfair can find their posts and feature them on the Wayfair Instagram.
Wayfair uses UGC to feature their products in real homes. With every user-generated post, the company reaches the followers of the original creator, increasing the exposure of the post and the probability for more likes.
6. Include a Call-To-Action (CTA) with Every Post
Your goal in buying likes is to increase your engagement metrics and get your post seen by more people. Why buy Instagram likes when you can just ask users to engage instead?
Invite engagement by asking or promoting your followers and target audience to take action and interact with you.
Some examples of engagement-focused CTAs include:
- Like if you agree/if this happens to you!
- Like if you tried X product, and let us know what you thought in the comments!
- Tag someone who loves _____ .
- Would you rather _____ or _____ ?
- What is your favorite _____ ?
Lush asked users to give their opinion on a new product.
Whenever someone comments because of the CTA, the post can be seen by a whole new set of users, which opens up even more potential for likes and engagement.
If your goal is having likes, of course, tailor your CTA and ask users to like your post if they tried the product, rather than only asking them to comment.
7. Host an Instagram Giveaway or Contest
As an occasional, short-term strategy, you can give away your products or services through an Instagram contest.
Giveaways are a great way to get likes, gain followers, increase comments, and maybe even attract new customers. Design the rules of the giveaway around the engagement you want (and read this post for many more Instagram Giveaway Tips&Tricks).
For example, each like on the post could be an entry, and you could offer extra entries for tagging friends or sharing the post.
To supercharge your efforts, partner with a related brand or influencer.
Find an influencer in your field and see if they will host your giveaway on their page. This will allow you to promote your Instagram giveaway to both audiences, extending its reach.
Necessaire worked with influencer gothamista on their giveaway.
To enter, users had to follow both accounts. They could get an entry for every person they tagged, and another for reposting on their page. Now the followers of both accounts will see and interact with the posts. On top of that, every time users tag each other or share the post to get entries, the reach of the post (and the potential for engagement) expands.
Include liking your page as one of the requirements for entering the giveaway and you can increase your engagement organically—without having to buy Instagram likes!
8. Incorporate Emojis
Adding emojis is a fun way to encourage likes on your post. By now, everyone is familiar with emojis. 57% of profiles use emojis, and now that users can use emojis as hashtags, emoji popularity is only going to increase.
Emojis add personality to your post and can break up long blocks of text to make it more readable. On top of that, emojis have been shown to increase engagement rates.
Lego uses the eye emojis to add a little humor to the sentence ‘take a closer look.’ Users responded well—the post quickly gained thousands of likes, and many users followed Lego’s lead and left comments using emojis.
Increase Your Instagram Engagement…No Purchase Necessary
With so many ways to grow engagement organically, there’s no reason to buy Instagram likes and risk hurting your brand.
While it may sound tempting on the surface, the truth is that if you buy Instagram likes you can cost yourself valuable business and partnerships and violate Instagram’s Terms of Service, placing you at risk of having your Instagram account shut down.
Doing things the right way requires more effort and doesn’t provide instant gratification. Not only you will see your legitimate following grow, but you will also build trust in the process.
Instead of trying to pay your way into popularity, follow the practical tips we gave you in this post and these other tested and proven Instagram marketing and advertising strategies.
For more insight into why it’s not a good idea to buy likes and followers on Instagram (and for those of you that only trust numbers), check out the experiment we ran to get at the truth behind the practice.
What do you think? Did you give in to the temptation of buying Instagram likes? How was your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below!